Monthly Archives: June 2005

Urban Ore on the Berkeley Pier

Berkeley Pier

I’m headed up to the mountains for a few days backpacking, so I thought I’d put some pictures of civilization on the blog – to remind me there is gold in them here hills, too!

Gull Julian and I went down to the Berkeley Pier at sunset. The sea gulls were flying!
Julian wanted to know why some of the pier was washed away, why people “painted” on the pier, and how many ship wrecks there were below the waves. He wanted to know if I photographed a gull whether I would blog it. I said, “Yes!” Gull

Here’s Julian peeking around the graffiti:

Julian on the Pier

Here’s a photo of a sink used to clean fish, covered with lichen glowing in the afternoon light, with San Francisco in the background:

Berkeley Pier

Looking back towards the hills, the Berkeley Marina looks positively happy. There’s a sign on the gate to the pier, “Please don’t let our cats out.” People live in the marina, I think, and other people just park their boats and take them out to sail. Sounds like fun.

Berkeley Marina

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, San Francisco Area

Sexy Angel Face

This is an Angel Face rose from my garden. I think it is so sexy!

Here’s another photo of the same rose bud, sexy (but in a different way):

Angel Face

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Flowering Dogwood, Yosemite

I took this photo last month outside Camp Curry in Yosemite Valley. Click here for the Yosemite category on Photoblog 2.0, and here for Harold’s Yosemite set on Flickr.

When I say outside Camp Curry, I mean right hard by the front gate of the place. It’s amazing that you can stand there and look up at an incredible view like this while down below everyone scurries around in grubby Camp Curry.

Camp Curry may be grubby. Actually, it is grubby! But it was founded with noble ideals – making the grandeur of Yosemite affordable to the masses. And my son Julian loves the place. It is his idea of paradise, with warrens of rocks and paths to wander through, campfire talks at night – the perfect summer camp with Daddy.

Two schools of thought, really, about how to photograph in such a place: do you show Camp Curry in all its unclean washrooms, scurry around the pizza concession, human ant heap *or* do you edit the picture by framing to show the wonders of nature? Obviously, in this photo I took the second road (as I usually seem to do in nature or the wilderness).

I also post-processed this a bit in Photoshop, adjusting one set of color and contrast for highlight areas (the dogwood) and another for the shadows (the cliffs). I also dodged the cliffs to bring out the details.

Posted in Photography, Writing, Yosemite

Kids Today

Julian is almost eight. He like Star Wars, Legos, and shipwrecks. He’s proud of his abilities as an acrobat, and happy to have finished first grade. Summer vacation is great!

Nicky is three and a half. He loves his pre-school, and trains most of all (he calls himself the “Nicky Engine”). He is always testing to see what he can get away with. He’s a charming, wonderful little rascal. He introduces himself to strangers in the playground: “Hi! I’m Nicky. Come play with me.”

Mathew will be one year old soon. How the time flies! He’s a big, healthy, bouncing baby who loves his big brothers and has a great time exploring the world around him.

Photographing one’s kids is great fun, but not always as easy as it seems. Kids like being photographed, but they don’t understand posing, or holding still. So you have to be ready when the picture is right, and not assume it will come on your time.

Refresh your browser for a different selection of thumnails!

Posted in Kids, Photography

Judy Garland in My Garden

I was furiously finishing up a chapter yesterday when I heard that Judy Garland – that is, Judy Garland the rose – was blooming in my garden. I had to take a break and photograph this new bud.

For this kind of photography the essential accessory is a tripod. The camera may not matter so much: unless you have a macro lens, a digital SLR won’t do as good a job as a less expensive LCD camera. But you do need a tripod so you can set the camera in aperture-preferred mode, stop it down as far as it will go, and let the exposure be as long as it needs. The tripod means you won’t get shake from the long exposure.

It’s worth investing in a good tripod. The tripod needs to be strong, and it needs to have the ability to spread its legs in all kinds of variable ways. It’s particularly important that the tripod be able to get very close to the ground (without that ability I would not have been able to take this picture). More information about tripods.

Here are some more photos from my garden:

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Writing

Sunflower (Sunflowr?)

I took this picture in Blake Garden a couple of days ago (Wednesday). I like the touch of pink peeking through the petals on the top.

Also, I’m trying to get away from the eviscerating vowel thing, but it is really tempting to go…sunflowr!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Water Lilies

Water Lilies IV

Water Lilies V

Water Lilies VII

Water Lilies VI

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Flickr Flowr Badge

A Flickr Badge is a way Flickr lets you display groups of photos on your web pages. This is an HTML Flickr badge that displays random photos from my Flowers set on Flickr. (Click here for Blake Garden blog items, and here for the Flowers blog category.) If you refresh your browser, you will see different images in the badge.

Besides HTML badges, Flickr Badges come in a Flash variety. You can see one (actually, four) here. I haven’t got the Flash badges to work yet within WordPress because of some complications regarding JavaScript within WordPress’s PHP content pages, but when I do get the JavaScript/Flash to work in WordPress I will blog it for your edification.

Within Flickr, to create a badge, you start by choosing HTML or Flash. Next, you decide the source of the photos. The choices are: all your photos, all your photos with a specific tag, a public set of your photos, a group pool of photos, or everyone’s photos. If you are creating an HTML badge, you can decide to show most recent photos, or random photos. With the HTML badge, you choose the number of photos to display, the size, and the orientation (horizontal or vertical).

With either a Flash or an HTML badge, you choose the color scheme, and the code is generated for you. Copy and paste it into your web page (unless it is a Flash badge and WordPress), and you are done! Way cool.

Posted in Bemusements, Flickr, Flowers, Photography

Mallow Star

More close-ups from Blake Garden (here’s my first post about these photos).

I took a break from writing this afternoon. Phyllis, Julian, and I had a picnic in Blake Garden.

Here’s a photo of water lilies from today:

Water Lilies IV

And a the heart of an Icelandic poppy:

Heart of the Poppy I

Posted in Flowers, Photography

A Coy Koi at Blake Garden

A Coy Koi, photo by Harold Davis.

Is the koi coy? Or the coi coy? And does he flickr? I saw this wonderful koi in the pond at Blake Garden in Kensington, California and photographed him with the camera on my tripod while Julian jumped around. (I asked to be quiet to please not startle the fish, and then he was good.)

Mathew enjoyed exploring the world, one blade of grass on the lawn at Blake Garden:

Mathew Exploring

I enjoyed photographing the lilies in this wonderful garden, which is the official residence of the Vice Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley official. It is not far from where we live. The garden is open to the public week days. Here are some more photos from the set:

Posted in Flowers, Kids, Landscape, Photography

Shine On, Ersatz Moon

These rocks near the top of Mount Tamalpais seemed to call out for a moon, and I few entries ago I photographed a moon to paste (It’s Always Nice To Have a Moon). Actually, the scale is all wrong! The rocks are about three inches high – but don’t tell!

To paste the moon into the landscape:

  • Open both images in Photoshop at roughly the same level of definition. It’s best to work on something like this as a PSD file (Photoshop’s internal format) so you’ve got plenty of saved history in case you want to revert
  • In the moon image, use the Magic Wand tool to select the black night sky around the moon
  • Choose Select, then Invert Selection to just get the moon
  • Choose Select, then Modify – Contract to make the selected area smaller by 1 or 2 pixels. This will make sure the moon doesn’t have a black line around it.
  • Choose, Select, Feather, 2 pixels to make the moon edge still softer
  • Copy the selected moon
  • Paste it into the landscape with rocks
  • Move, resize, rotate to taste
  • In the Layers palette, with the moon on a layer, decrease opacity to about 80%
  • Save it as a JPEG (or whatever format you need)

That’s all you need to shine on big bright ersatz moon!

Posted in Bemusements, Landscape, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Wedding Rings

Our wedding rings – nestling. What better way on Father’s Day to say “Thank you” to my wife, the mother of my children, who makes it all possible. Phyllis, I love you!

Posted in Bemusements, Hearts, Photography

Morning Grace in Our Garden, Hearts of Flowers on Fire!

In our garden this morning day lilies were blooming in the gentle rain. There was no wind. Conditions were good for macro photography.

Balloon Flower

I photographed with controlled (or uncontrolled) chaos around me. The three kids trying to get my attention, racing cars, and putting traffic cones around the feet of my tripod.


After a while, I was waiting for that first cup of joe, and exulting with the fire within the flowers…

Amazing Grace

When we’ve been here ten thousand years…
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise…
then when we’ve first begun.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Yosemite Without People

This photograph is a view looking down on the top of Vernal Falls. I took the photo last month during the high water. Recently, I edited it in Photoshop to remove the people and fence from platform beside the top of Vernal Falls. So this is probably pretty much how it looked before there were people (at least European people).

With the people and fence in the picture, things look a little bit junkier – but it doesn’t really spoil the grandeur of the falls. But taking the people out has set me to musing about what Yosemite would be like without people – and also what appropriate stewardship of a unique place like Yosemite should be.

I think that actually the National Park Service does a pretty good job all things considered. From above, human footprint in the valley isn’t all that extensive, and there are some places you really can’t see it at all. The shuttle bus system is really a good way to get people to drive less in the valley, and still get them about conveniently. But I hate the feeling of constant construction and tourism in the summer months in the valley, and despair at what at times feel likes sacrilege towards one of the greatest temples of nature.

John Muir would probably have missed the serenity of the valley, although in his time there were other eco-scourges: for example, the sheep herds he called “hooved locusts.” (Muir originally came to the Yosemite on a summer job tending these very sheep.)

I’d like to think that there might be a better way to manage the valley without excluding anyone who really wants to see it, but I do realize this a big political problem.

But suppose there were another “almost-Yosemite” to start over with? I’m speaking of Hetchy-Hetchy, which is now filled with water as a reservoir for the Bay Area. Muir himself described Hetchy-Hetchy as another Yosemite. The defeat of the efforts to conserve Hetchy-Hetchy and the victory of pro-development water interests were a great early defeat for this country’s environmental movement.

The defeat at Hetchy-Hetchy helped fuel the rise of the Sierra Club, the National Park movement, and – following other defeats, notably Glen Canyon – a de facto moratorium on development in areas of scenic wonder.

There’s now talk of draining Hetchy-Hetchy and restoring it (for example, see the Yosemite Blog coverage). This may all be a dream, but it could happen. If it does, and if we can restore Hetchy-Hetchy, let’s make it a temple to the grandeur of nature, not (like Yosemite sometimes feels) a temple to tourism, autos, buses, and park concessionaires.

Posted in Hiking, Landscape, Photography, Photoshop Techniques, Writing, Yosemite

It’s Always Nice to Have a Moon

I saw this wonderful moon rising over the Berkeley hills out the porch on our top-floor bedroom. The longest telephoto I had around was an old manual Nikon 300mm lens, so I got it out, and put it on my D70 with a tripod of course.

Exposure was pretty much guessing. Try as you like with the moon, you tend to overexpose the moon area if you pay any attention to what a camera’s meter is saying (because the surrounding areas are so dark). A spot meter would help with this problem but I didn’t have mine handy.

The camera was in manual exposure mode, of course, with the old lens, and I had the aperture set at f/8.

I took about a dozen exposures, this was the best (and shortest) at 1/30 of a second.

In Photoshop I cropped in a bit more and added a little color using a separate layer with a radial gradient (with layer opacity set to 18% and the blending mode was set to color burn). This may be more than you wanted to know!

It’s always nice to have a moon around. The moon is romantic, and it can be trotted out when you are in the mood. A nice moon can also be saved for later, and used in photo compositions (which is what I will do with this one when the right occasion arises).

Posted in Bemusements, Landscape, Photography, Photoshop Techniques