Author Archives: Harold Davis

2022 PSA Progress Award

The Photographic Society of America (PSA) gives their Progress Award annually to recognize “a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the progress of photography or an allied subject. The recipient does not have to be a member of the Society.”

I’m proud and grateful to be the 2022 recipient of this award, specifically cited for “the development of a high key digital HDR workflow and set of techniques involving specific kinds of back lighting that make it possible to create luminous translucent imagery.”

Given annually since 1948, previous recipients of the Progress Award include Walt Disney, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Eliot Porter, Robert N. Noyce, John & Thomas Knoll, and Ken Burns. I’m excited to be part of this august company (as you can see in the iPhone photo below, snapped by Nicholas Davis)—and look forward to moving creatively onward from here!

Posted in Photography


It’s great to be home. The image shows a ceramic bowl I bought as a gift for Phyllis in Orvieto, with lemons from our tree.

Lemon Bowl © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Mirror Selfie

I took advantage of the mirrors in my dressing room in the hotel in Trieste to create a “recursive” image along the lines of the Droste effect (immediately below). This kind of image making has its own chapter in my book Composition & Photography.

Mirror Selfie © Harold Davis

Perhaps what brought the Droste effect to mind was an M.C.Escher exhibit I had just seen in Florence. In one fun, interactive feature, I was encouraged to snap an iPhone shot of myself (instead of Escher) in his famous lithograph of a reflective ball (below).

At the Escher Exhibit © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Monochrome, Photography

The Second Creepiest Hotel Room on My Visit to Italy

Well, the “first creepiest” room was definitely the one in Orvieto that had a large reproduction of a painting of Death playing chess with his dying victim hung right over the bed. I hung a bedspread over this grotesque art so I wouldn’t see Death peering at me at night from the mirror across the room.

Storm, Trieste © Harold Davis

This room in Trieste is also creepy, more for what is outside the room than the room itself. The room is over-large, tasteless, and grandiose—but on the whole these are venal not mortal sins, and could even be fun, depending on whom one might be sharing the room with.

But I am on the fifth floor (sixth by American reckoning), and it is a long way down to Trieste’s harbor. In the storm the other night, this magnificent old building groaned and rattled. The balconies out the doors provide only a low railing, almost no protection. While potentially dangerous to the lonely and suggestible traveler, this eyrie also provides an enticing perch for photography.

Posted in Italy, Photography

Sailing Yacht A

Sailing Yacht A (“Sy A”) is a super yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch that was seized by Italian authorities in Trieste harbor in March, 2022. Sy A remains anchored off Trieste; in the image below it is shown in yesterday’s storm, and in the bottom image today in better weather.

Ghost Ship © Harold Davis

Sailing Yacht A © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography

Florence Rainbow

A few days ago, my friend Julian and I walked up to the Michelangelo Piazza for a view above Florence. We were welcomed with a display of sun, clouds, rain—and a rainbow.

Some other rainbows: Strasbourg’s Petite France, Paris, Patriarch Grove, Prague, and the Alabama Hills (in the eastern Sierra). 

Rainbows always symbolize hope and beauty for me. I feel fortunate to have witnessed so many rainbows—photography is a great enabler of this.

I keep in mind the Ansel Adams dictum that if you don’t go out in the rain you’ll never witness the clearing storm. The same can be said of rainbows.

Rainbow over Florence © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography

Duomo in the Clearing Fog

The day dawned with a white-out fog blanketing the Umbrian hill town of Orvieto. I wandered through the maze of ancient, deserted streets and alleys with my camera on the tripod, making images in the evocative light. Rounding a corner onto the Piazza del Duomo, I saw for the first time the sun rising through the fog (my image is below).

Duomo in the Morning Fog © Harold Davis

Later in the morning, Julian and I climbed the many steps to the top of the Torre del Moro. We had this eyrie to ourselves in a world of whiteness, but decided to have patience, and settled in to wait. Over an hour later, after noon, the fog started to break, and when it moved, it moved quickly. I had only a moment or two to capture Duomo in the Clearing Fog (below).

Duomo in the Clearing Fog © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography

St Patrick’s Well

St Patrick’s Well, or Pozzo di San Patrizio, is located in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. There are 248 steps down (and up). The view in my image is looking up at the daylight at the top of the well. The whole thing is like a tower that goes down into the ground, rather than standing above it. The design uses a double spiral stair, with 70 windows from the stair into the shaft of the well. The point of this double spiral was to allow mules to go down and fill vessels and come back up the second spiral without any traffic jams. I sure felt like a mule going down and then up this structure with my friend Julian!

St Patrick’s Well © Harold Davis

St Patrick’s Well was built on orders from Pope Clement VII who had taken refuge at Orvieto during the sack of Rome in 1527 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The Pope wanted to make sure there would be enough water in event of a siege.

The rather odd name for the well was inspired by St Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland. This is a cave supposedly shown St Patrick by Christ that is said to go down all the way to purgatory (and, yes, climbing out of the well with my camera gear did indeed feel purgatorial!).

From a photographic viewpoint, I am interested in the feeling of light in my image, considering how dark it was down there at the bottom of the well (I had to use my headlamp to see what I was doing with the camera).

Posted in Italy

Dahlia X-Ray

This image is a pretty straightforward x-ray of a rather small Dahlia blossom. Julian and I made the exposure last week at his radiology practice near Heidelberg. In post-production, I converted to LAB color. Next, I used a series of curve adjustments to equalize the various densities in the image. Long live the Dahlia!

Dahlia X-Ray © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome, Photograms, Photography, X-Ray

The Curve at the End of the Country Lane

I photographed Country Lane (shown below) adjacent to a castle that is fairly close by. The overall lighting, mood, and feeling of the image reminds me of Road Less Traveled (shown at the bottom, and blogged here).

Country Lane © Harold Davis

While the feeling may be similar, there is a difference in the meta-story this pair of images convey. With Road Less Traveled, a choice is presented, presumably in the life of the viewer, or maybe—more autobiographically—in my life. The exhortation to myself was to choose a path less taken, and embark on the life of an artist, to pursue beauty, rather than to follow the easier direction of a more conventional career. The appeal to the viewer is to consider carefully what is really important, and to make choices that are commensurate with their best possible life.

In contrast, Country Lane presents no choices. It’s as if everything is preordained. The path has already been chosen. But if you squint hard, you can see there is a curve at the end of the road, where country lane meets the horizon and vanishing point, with a slight emphasis of brightness. 

What lies ahead, around the curve? That’s hard to say, and may be different for each of us. But my sense of the image is optimistic, as if it is saying that the best is yet to come.

Road Less Traveled by Harold Davis

Road Less Traveled © Harold Davis

Posted in Germany, Monochrome, Photography

Himbachel Viaduct

Today I photographed a marvelous train viaduct, built in the 1800s using the same engineering principles that the Romans used. The Himbachel Viaduct is still in use by trains today. Photographically, a structure this huge and out of scale with the landscape offers a real challenge in composition—figuring out how to be harmonious while still conveying the immensity of the site.

Himbachel Viaduct (Monochrome) © Harold Davis

Posted in Germany, Monochrome, Photography

Just Call Me Angel

Baden-Baden is a prosperous spa town at the edge of the Black Forest and near Germany’s border with France. A famous place to try to recuperate from tuberculosis in the nineteenth century, Dostoevsky lost his shirt at the casino in Baden-Baden. More recently, Baden-Baden has once again been favored by rich Russians.

Dark Angel from Baden-Baden © Harold Davis

Posted in Germany, Monochrome, Photography

The Three Castles

A short trail through the woods leads to the ruins of the Three Castles—more like three towers, really—that are perched on a ridge above Eguisheim, Alsace, France. The structures date to the 1200s, and they were “destroyed in 1466 in the ‘Six Deniers War'” [according to the signage]. Memo to self: look up the Six Deniers War, it sounds very Game of Thrones-like.

Ruins of the Three Castles © Harold Davis


Posted in France, Monochrome, Photography

Arriving in Strasbourg

I got some decent sleep on the long-haul flight over to Paris, and at the airport caught the train to Strasbourg. Strasbourg is the capital of Alsace, a region of France on the border with Germany. I had to change trains once. My hotel in Strasbourg is in an area known as La Petite France—notable for canals, picturesque and very old buildings, and the tourist trade.

La Petite France © Harold Davis

I wakened to thunder and lightening the first morning, in my room perched high above the old city. As the day slowly dawned, I watched the dark clouds scuttle across the sky. Very dramatic.

Stormy Morning in Strasbourg (Color Version) © Harold Davis

The tower of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Strasbourg was the highest building in Europe until the nineteenth century, and a marvelous Gothic spire it is! I climbed three hundred steps to the platform below the spire, where in olden times guards lived 24/7 to watch the city for fires, and the horizon for enemies.  Strasbourgians, if that is the right term, came up here for picnics on holidays. Today, it is a perfect location for photographing the rooftops of ancient Strasbourg from above.

Rooftop © Harold Davis

There’s plenty to see and photograph in Strasbourg without climbing towards the sky. Wandering the twisting streets a few blocks from my hotel I was intrigued by the optical pattern made by the wood design in an antique door.

Op Door © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Photography

Dreaming of Venice

I’m beyond excited about heading back to Europe in a few days for an extensive photography trip that will include one of my favorite cities, Venice. May the photographic stars, weather Gods, and assorted creative juices (all of which combine to be “the Force”) be with me!

Venice Canal © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography