Author Archives: Harold Davis

On Beauty and Art

Liz writes the Exploring Colour Blog from New Zealand. She used my image of the Blue Danube in a story on the color Indigo. Next, Liz was stimulated to start a series of guest pieces on What and Where is Beauty. She asked me to write the first blog on the topic, which I titled On Art and Beauty. I have been meditating a great deal about the role of beauty in contemporary art and photography, so the words just came tumbling out.

Salutation to the Sun © Harold Davis

What is beauty? What is the place of beauty in art? Surprisingly, these are contentious and difficult questions that involve some very slippery concepts. In the past couple of centuries, since the end of representational art as the ultimate goal of the artist, the role of beauty in art has become increasingly vexatious.

This is particularly troublesome in the context of photography, which necessarily has some representational components, and the rise of the hegemony of conceptual art.

Read more…

Posted in Writing

Please join me at the opening of my photography exhibition November 9, 2017

Please join me at the opening of my photography exhibition Thursday November 9, 2017 at Shoh Gallery in Berkeley, California from 6-9PM. I look forward to celebrating my vernissage with you!

Posted in Photography

Pretty in Pink

The upper image shows Anemones and Alstromerias (“Peruvian lilies”) from my garden, both pink flowers, and if you look carefully, two butterflies as well. I used a slightly modified technique for Pretty in Pink when I photographed it the other day, compared to my orthodox Photographing Flowers for Transparency approach, because I photographed the composition in three separate batches (anemones, alstromerias, and butterflies) and then combined the sections in post-production—which is also the approach I took with Practicum Perluciditatem, shown at the bottom of this story, although the visual point of the image (made back in 2015) is quite different since it is really about translucency.

Pretty in Pink © Harold Davis


Practicum Perluciditatem © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Bay Bridge

This is an iPhone photo from Treasure Island over the Bay Bridge towards San Francisco, taken during my recent (very much fun) San Francisco in Black & White extended field workshop!

Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Monochrome, Photography, San Francisco Area

Flowers for Kwangsik

Kwangsik came from Korea to attend our San Francisco in Black & White workshop this past weekend. On Friday, by special arrangement, he spent some time with me going over my Photographing Flowers for Transparency technique. This is the composition I set up for him on the light box to use as an exposure and processing demonstration.

Flowers for Kwangsik © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Where be the nestling dragon?

Castle Corvin, located in the center of the drab Romanian provincial city of Hunedoara (and sometimes called Hunedoara Castle), is one of the finest castles I have ever seen. Do you like castle porn? This one combines scale, creepiness, turrets, and that wonderful bridge across the moat.

Hunedoara Castle © Harold Davis

This is a hard castle to beat, and I was lucky to be in position for this photo with my fisheye lens near sunset as a storm cleared. The only thing missing is the nestling dragon, snoring away on the top tower!

Hunedoara Castle in black and white © Harold Davis

The photo doesn’t quite show the oddness of the castle’s location. There’s a bit of serious touristic development going on around the castle (a restaurant or two in renovated spaces), but mostly this is still a decaying industrial area, wrapped in a midsize city of communist-era block architecture. 

I really do think that a dragon or two (and maybe the “Mother of Dragons”) would totally add to the coolness factor!

Related story and images: Romania; Bran Castle; Two Views of Corvin Castle.

Posted in Romania

Blue Danube

The Danube River meanders from central Europe down through Budapest, finally to end in a Black Sea delta in southeastern Romania. The photo below shows the Danube at blue-hour-into-night looking towards the Chain Bridge and Hungarian Houses of Parliament as the river curves through central Budapest, Hungary.

Blue Danube © Harold Davis

The next photo shows the Elizabeth Bridge, also across the Danube in central Budapest, as dusk has deepened. The solid lines are boats on the Danube. I was helped to find locations by ace night photographer and guide to Budapest Miklos Mayer, who also helped me get into location on the following evening for the fireworks display for Hungarian National Day. If you visit Budapest with your camera, and want to make some special images, Miklos is highly recommended.

Elizabeth Bridge, Budapest © Harold Davis

Finally, the photo below is a three-exposure monochromatic HDR blend of the central part of the parliament building from right across the Danube River.

Houses of Parliament © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night, Photography

Welcome Home Flowers

It’s great to come home to tulips and lobelias from the garden to photograph. Thank you Phyllis! Not to mention such a lovely, warm, and wonderful family.

I photographed the tulips and lobelias on a white light box, then added the virtual antique frame and panel effect in post-production.

Tulips and Lobelias © Harold Davis

Here are some other flower compositions I’ve done this year. In the press of travel excitements and engagements—Vietnam, France, Malta, Romania, and more so far—it has been hard to find the time to post them up until now. Please let me know which is your favorite and what you think of the treatments! Prints of these images are available by request, please let me know if you are interested.

Shrub Mallow © Harold Davis

Bouquet of Neighborhood Flowers © Harold Davis

Garland © Harold Davis

One quarter (un-rotated) of the Garland image is shown in Tulips and a Clematis Vine. Here’s the top image I made today on white without the virtual frame:

Tulips and Lobelias on White © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Budapest Jewish Quarter

This huge designer advertisement is applied to the wall of an apartment building that stands to the side of one of the entrances to the old Budapest, Hungary Jewish quarter. While there is a synagogue in the quarter, there are almost no Jewish residents to be found—and probably nobody much else who is local lives here, either.

This is where folks come on cheap flights from western Europe to drink and do the bachelor-party thing. The authorities pretty much leave it alone at night when the parties get raucous, and local residents have fled, or rent out their apartments on AirBnb. 

Budapest Apartments © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Perfect Dandelion

It’s great to be home again after my interesting photographic tour of Romania, with domestic quests on hand like finding the perfect dandelion core!

Nucleus 1 (on Black) © Harold Davis

Nucleus II (on White) © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome

Umbrellas over Bucharest

The Old Town of Bucharest, Romania seems like a really happening place. When the lights go down, the action comes out, and most likely, as Arlo Guthrie put it in the context of Alice’s restaurant, you can get anything you want (‘xceptin’ Alice). None of which explains why, turning down an unnamed alley and looking upwards towards the sky, I found these umbrellas. Mary Poppins en masse? An invasion of the umbrella body-snatchers? Neville Chamberlain rides again? If anyone knows, please enlighten me!

Umbrellas over Bucharest © Harold Davis

Posted in Romania

Bran Castle

Bran Castle was originally a kind of customs checkpoint guarding a mountain pass. Perhaps because of its rugged appearance it has become associated with the Bram Stoker Dracula story, although the place has nothing to do historically with either Stoker or Vlad Dracula. It’s more associated with the royal family of Romania, who were ousted following the communist takeover at the end of the second world war. The children and grandchildren of the last prince got the title to the place restored after a long legal fight, and now operate it as a major tourist attraction.

Bran Castle © Harold Davis

Related story: Castle Corvin.

Posted in Romania

Big Facial Hair

When a man reaches a certain age, and perhaps has become a bit of a family patriarch, he should be allowed to let his hair grow any way he wants. At least, that’s how the Roma feel about male facial hair. Hence you see long gray beards, massive mutton chops, and mustaches like the one sported by this cheerful fellow in the red shirt, all under the black felt hats of the Roma.

Roma Man in a Red Shirt © Harold Davis

Posted in Romania

Modeling a Wedding Skirt

This Roma girl is posing with her big sister’s wedding skirt, as if trying it on for size. Soon the younger sister will leave school. She will have had a year or two of schooling in total. Her family does not see the benefits of education, and they are fearful that she will get abducted and raped into a forced marriage if they don’t keep her close to home. Pretty soon it will be her turn to wear the white skirt in a marriage arranged by her family the traditional way.

Modeling a Wedding Skirt © Harold Davis

Posted in Romania

Dracul’s Birthplace

Above a bar in the Citadel of Sighisoara in remote Transylvania is a room where Count Dracula was born. Or, so it is claimed. For five Romanian lei (a little more than a dollar at current exchange rates) you can enter said chamber and inspect the dimly lit paintings that appear on red velvet walls surrounding an ersatz coffin. Not a mirror is in sight.

Did I hear you ask, “You mean he lived and died in the same room?” Yes, this thought flitted through my mind as well.

The image shown below is an iPhone composite of a ghoulish painting showing Vlad Dracula having dinner while doing his impalement thing, and a portrait of Dracula.

By the way, Vlad is a very common Romanian first name, and Dracula himself seems to be generally fairly well regarded around here: he fought for his country, and was no more brutal than his times. And where did Bram Stoker get off on writing about a country he had never even visited?

Dracul’s Birthplace © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Photography, Romania