Monthly Archives: November 2009

Creative Close-Ups

Creative Close-Ups

Creative Close-Ups, photo by Harold Davis.

In keeping with recent family tradition, Katie Rose is shown here photographed with Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques, which is now shipping. Earlier I showed Katie with Creative Night, Creative Composition, and The Photoshop Darkroom.

The three Creative titles are now shipping. Yeah!

Creative Composition: Digital Tips & Techniques
Creative Close-Ups: Digital Tips & Techniques Creative Night: Digital Tips & Techniques

It’s a little hard to sum up Creative Composition, but here’s my goal in writing the book (as stated in the introduction): “I hope this book helps you to see and think about what you photograph, and to better integrate your three-dimensional world into its ‘wrapper’: the two-dimensional photo.”

Creative Night explains night photography techniques and is an introduction to the colorful and exciting world of night photography.

Creative Close-Ups explores the world of macro and still life photography, both in the field and studio, with a particular emphasis on flower photography.

Note: If you are on the review copy list for my books, you should be receiving your copy shortly. Please let me know when it arrives, and I’d be interested in knowing about any review you do post. Thanks.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, Writing

Havana Panorama

Havana Panorama

Havana Panorama, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is a panoramic view of Havana and its harbor taken from the huge statue of Jesus that overlooks the city. I stitched together 18 captures using Photomerge in Photoshop CS4 to create this panorama. The level of detail that it shows is best appreciated in a larger size.

Related story: check out this panorama of San Francisco and the Golden Gate.

Posted in Cuba, Photography

Milk Scam

Milk Scam

Milk Scam, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Across the street from the Cuban capitolio nacional under a dark and crumbling arcade a mother and two daughters watched me. She asked me if I wanted to take their photo. I wasn’t very interested, but snapped a few frames to be polite. Then I offered her a little money.

“No, no,” she said. “Buy my girls some milk.” Before I knew it I was a milk scam victim.

The scam was well organized. The mother marched me into a nearby store, they produced one bag of powdered milk for each of the girls, I paid ten times the market cost of the milk, and girls and mother (if indeed she was their mom) swiftly disappeared with the milk. All this took place a breakneck speed before I could stop to think.

This occurred on my first day in Havana. I was hot, tired and disoriented. I probably would not have fallen for the ploy later in my trip. I also might have remembered that Cuban children seven and under are entitled to subsidized milk as part of their rations, and that inexpensive powdered milk is widely available for older kids.

It’s hard for me to turn down anything that involves kids—which is probably why I didn’t just say no. But I also think the story of this milk scam is interesting in terms of the social corruption it implies.

I’d suppose the store split the proceeds with the mom, with the store getting the lion’s share. But this occured in a store right across from the capitolio. There’s a pretty big police presence, and it is hard to imagine they don’t know what is going on. So there’s a chain of graft and corruption that goes up from my milk scam towards the top of Cuban society. Every Cuban has some kind of racket going on the side, because their salaries from the government in combination with rations are simply not enough to survive on.

I’d like to believe in the best ideals of socialismo, but this kind of thing makes it hard indeed. Very, very sad.

Posted in Cuba, Monochrome, Photography

Capitolio Nacional

Capitolio Nacional

Capitolio Nacional, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The dome of the capitolio nacional is a landmark that can be seen from many parts of Havana, Cuba. The building sits between Centro Habana and Habana Vieja (the partially restored old city).

The area immediately surrounding the capitolio nacional is a locus of tourist scam activities. Jinteras (female escorts) ply their trade. Boxes of counterfeit Cohiba cigars are sold as supposedly swiped from the factory in dark rooms across the street from the capitol. In all fairness, I was badgered by people whispering “Psst! Want to buy a cigar?” everywhere I went in Cuba—so it is not just the capitol area that is awash in these counterfeits.

The capitolio nacional was built by American-backed strongman Gerardo Machado in the late 1920s. In tribute to those who kept him in power, the exterior mimics the capitol building in Washington. Inside the building, you can wander the aisles of the senate and house of representives chambers. My sense is that there was never any serious attempt at bicameral representative democracy.

Today, the capitolio nacional is mostly an empty tourist attraction. You can see in my photo of the Salon de los Pasos Perdidos (Great Hall of the Lost Steps, so named because of its acoustic properties) that someone waxes the floor and keeps the place clean. A large diamond used to sit in the entrance hall to mark the zero point for all Cuban travel distances. The diamond has been replaced with a facsimile. Rumour has it that the real diamond sits in Fidel’s office.

Exposure data: Nikon D300, 10.5mm digital fisheye, two exposures (0.25 of a second and 0.6 of a second) combined in Photoshop using layers and masking, each exposure at f/13 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.

Posted in Cuba, Photography

Back Stair

Back Stair

Back Stair, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is a back staircase in the rundown Palacio Ferrer in Cienfuegos, Cuba. Built by sugar baron Jose Ferrer Sires, the Palacio housed one of the leading families of Cuba’s colonial sugar oligarchy in great style.

Today the dilapidated Palacio is a so-called cultural center, although the only evidence of culture I could see was a much worn piano, probably last tuned at about the time Fidel took power.

Exposure data: Nikon D300, 13mm, six exposures combined in Photoshop using masks and layers with exposure times between 20 seconds and 1/2 of a second, each exposure at f/22 andf ISO 100, tripod mounted.

Posted in Cuba, Photography

El Malecon

El Malecon

El Malecon, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Night comes to El Malecon, the boulevard that runs along the ocean. Old Havana glimmers in the distance. Soft light and surf spray in the air soften decrepitude. Lovers meet, music plays. You’d never know this isn’t the good life.

Exposure data: Nikon D300, 65mm, 30 seconds at f/11 and ISO 200, tripod mounted.

Posted in Cuba, Digital Night, Photography

Flower Macros

Echinacea Pink Double Delight

Echinacea Pink Double Delight, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Flower macros are a personal subject that I return to over and over again with great joy. The photo above is an Echinacea Pink Double Delight that I photographed just after a recent rainstorm.

The daffodil in the sunshine (below) is from early 2008. I found the RAW file recently when flipping through my archives, and decided to have some fun converting this simple, sunny image.


View this image larger.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Snoozing with Katie Rose


Snoozing, photo by Harold Davis.

It’s virtually impossible to keep awake with a sleeping baby on one’s chest—as you can see in this shot Phyllis took of me snoozing with Katie Rose.

I am glad to have this photo, because who photographs the photographer? I don’t often appear in family photos.

Posted in Katie Rose, Kids