Monthly Archives: March 2009

The Destination Recedes

The Destination Recedes

The Destination Recedes, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The tunnel of trees leading to the historical RCA Marconi wireless communication center is long enough. Make it even longer in Photoshop, using the technique I explain in World without End, and it seems like the destination truly recedes.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Came Both Mist and Stars

Came Both Mist and Stars

Came Both Mist and Stars, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: It was a wet, misty Yosemite night. The fog clouds that were almost snow only seemed to be getting denser. Facing south down the Merced River I was surprised to see stars. In post-processing, this twelve minute exposure looked more like something pictorialist or impressionist than a modern photo.

Related story: Yosemite at Night is looking the other direction from Swinging Bridge (with far less mist).

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Windswept Shore

Windswept Shore

Windswept Shore, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: On Drakes Beach a ferocious wind blew through the gap in the bluffs out to sea. In the wind, the sand scoured across the beach. I was a bit reluctant to take my camera out, but (surprisingly) the “sand storm” was all low lying—within a foot of the ground. So I could stand with the blowing sand swirling around my knees and photograph without risking my lens.

Other Drakes Bay wave photos: Patterns of Design; Surf; and Wave Tangent. Also check out Mountains on the Beach.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes


We spent a day with Katie Rose at the Whitney Clinic for developmental followup at six months gestationally corrected. This was a tiring day for Katie (and for us), but happy, because our little girl is doing so well.

Katie's Smile

Katie Rose saw a nurse practitioner, a pediatric neurologist, a physical therapist, and we saw a social worker. This clinic is a very friendly place, and very thorough in their follow up of at-risk babies. They are going to be helping to arrange for a physical therapist to come visit Katie and teach us some exercises for her.

Dr. Mednick, the pediatric neuroligist who is the medical director, told us that Katie Rose was not the baby he had expected to see based on her file. His body language made it clear that he was really pleased.

24-week preemies, like Katie Rose, have about a fifty-fifty chance of survival. Katie’s chances were a good deal worse than that because of the circumstances around her birth (the antibiotic-resistant infection) and how long she spent in resuscitation.

So to hear from Dr. Mednick that in all likelihood Katie would have a normal and productive life brings back memories of how tough things seemed when she was born, but mostly fills us with thankfulness and joy for the miracle of Katie Rose.

We look forward to bringing Katie back to the clinic next year, so they can see how she has progressed.

Background story & info:

Posted in Katie Rose, Kids

Flash Dance

Flash Dance

Flash Dance, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: The cloud above El Capitan was lit with the last light of the setting sun, but the winter trees below were stark, dark, and cold.

This is a composite of ten exposures ranging in exposure time from 1/10 of a second to 1/200 of a second. All the exposures were made at f/11 and ISO 100, using my Nikon D300, the 18-200mm VR Zoom lens at 18mm (27mm in 35mm terms) and a circular polarizer, with the camera mounted on a tripod.

I combined the ten exposures into a single HDR image using Photomatix, tone mapped the result, and tweaked it a bit in Photoshop (here are the details of how I’ve been post-processing these images shot for HDR).

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Photographing Kids, Family, and (other) Weird Things

I named this free, live, hour-long webcast presented by O’Reilly Digital Media with tongue in cheek, and also in homage to naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell (My Family and Other Animals). It’s scheduled for 10AM Pacific Time on Wednesday, March 18 at a computer desktop near you!

Fisheye Family Katie

The truth is that too many kids grow up traumatized by mandatory holiday photo sessions, and too many photos of the people and things we care most about are just plain boring. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Here’s the full description of the event:

Families, kids, holidays: we all want to capture them as fond memories, not stiff poses. During this not-to-be-missed presentation, Harold Davis will help us understand how to do so with more ease and fun in the process, demonstrating that “Cameras don’t take photos, people do!” covering topics such as:

  • Don’t gain the world at the expense of your soul: personally engage.
  • How to control light with a point-and shoot camera, avoiding “exposure modes from Hell”
  • Using pre-visualization as a key photographic skill.
  • Making the mundane fantastic – using composition to avoid boring family pictures.
  • Photographing children for the precious individuals they are
  • Leaving the shoe box behind…Displaying and preserving photos in the digital era.


Attendance is limited, so please register now. O’Reilly will send you a reminder before the webcast. And please feel free to share this invitation with others.

Pure Happiness

Date: Wednesday, March 18 at 10 am PT
Price: Free
Duration: Approximately 60 minutes
To register:
Questions? Please send email to

Caught in the Act

Posted in Photography

Slide Show

For quite a while art director and art agent types have been bugging me to publish an online portfolio. The complaint is that it is hard to find what I’m about as an image creator and photographer with all the stuff I’ve put on line. It’s true I have literally thousands of images on line and in the four years I’ve been blogging I have more than two thousand stories about photography. Yes, the material is tagged and searchable, organized with a taxonomy and human-readable site map, but even so it does not fit the concise and focused look of a top-of-the-line portfolio, which tends to be have relatively few images with some fancy (and flashy) user interface elements.

So last week I bit the bullet and decided to program my portfolio page and slide show in Flash. You can see the results on, which as also serves as a new entrance portal to this blog.

As an experienced software programmer, how hard could it be? Well, in fairness I need to say “ex programmer”—it’s been years since I’ve coded much of anything. And, at the possible expense of losing my über geek status, I’ll admit I found the Flash development environment a beast. Not so much the ActionScript programming language, which is a relatively clean implementation, but the whole construct of what goes where, with a stage and timeline in every application, and so on.

The heavy lifting in my application was done with a set of add-on Flash components from SlideShowPro, which are very elegant, but also complex, and with documentation that leaves a great deal to be desired.

I wanted something simple, elegant, and clean to best show my work. Sometimes simplicity is the hardest thing of all to achieve.

Well, it was a week lost to Flash development: but at least the beast is done, and I learned how to do it!

Posted in Software Reviews

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I got the boys occupied in throwing snow balls and trying to crush through the skim ice on Mirror Lake. Then I hunkered down to the ground and fired off a series of ten wide angle, high depth of field exposures. These were shot at 12mm (18mm in 35mm terms) and f/22, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/6 of a second to 1/125 of a second. In other words, a twenty times range to capture the full range of lights and darks in the scene I was seeing.

Back home, I used Photomatix to blend together the ten versions, adjusted using the Photomatix tone controls, and then hand corrected with another five layers in Photoshop. Here’s a more detailed explanation of my process.

For some more of my photos of this much-admired spot (in the late 1800s, Mirror Lake was a required subject for artists visiting Yosemite), check out Mirror Lake and Mirror Lake in Winter and Spring.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Yosemite

Yosemite at Night

Yosemite at Night

Yosemite at Night, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

With the boys tucked safely in bed I headed out into what proved an increasingly moist night. Wet fog enveloped most of Yosemite Valley, but there were odd pockets of open sky. From Swinging Bridge, I had a pretty straight shot at the stars over Yosemite Falls. The falls themselves were partially hidden by the darkness and fog, but the entire cliff face was illuminated by the light pollution from Yosemite Lodge.

This is a twelve minute exposure with my 10.5mm digital fisheye at f/4.5 and ISO 100.

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Yosemite



View this image larger

I finished my exposure stack as the first light of dawn hit the top of Yosemite Falls. Turning round, I saw the tree in this photo in silhouette. I snapped a four minute exposure against a sky that was turning blue, but with stars still visible.

Posted in Digital Night, Photography