Monthly Archives: December 2012

Workshops and Events Coming in 2013

Thank you for taking a look at my photography blog! It means a great deal to me, and I greatly appreciate it. Let me take this opportunity to wish you a happy and photographically spectacular 2013!

I also wanted to give you a heads-up regarding my workshops and events that I’ve scheduled so far in 2013. As you may know, most of my workshops fill-up quickly, so if you are interested please register without delay to avoid disappointment.

Negative Space by Harold Davis

Negative Space © Harold Davis

Harold Davis 2013 Workshops and Events

“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo. Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic. Nothing is more sublime.”—Victor Hugo

Ancient Music of the Stars by Harold Davis

Ancient Music of the Stars © Harold Davis

I am asking for feedback on a couple of points. Please drop me an email with your input.

(1) I’m hoping to be able to give one or two free photographic events in the Bay area in 2013—where would you most like to see me lead a free shoot?

(2) Regarding the second half of 2013, what workshop topics and/or destinations would you most like to see me offer?

Based on feedback from Photography with Harold Davis members I am seriously considering (a) Advanced Composition; (b) Taking Your Photography to the Next Level; (c) Flower transparency workshop with more than one day so folks can fully complete their work; (d) Online (website) presentation of photography.

(3) If you could go anywhere in the world with me, where would it be?

(4) What would your level of interest be in a photographic workshop in China?

Very best wishes in photography,

Harold Davis

Extreme Dandelion 2 by Harold Davis

Extreme Dandelion 2 © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Happy New Year!

My very best wishes for a happy and wonderful 2013! May you find peace, love, and magic—both in photography, and in life.

Red Pepper by Harold Davis

Red Pepper © Harold Davis

I’ve heard the saying that if you want to be a better photographer, place yourself in front of more interesting things. But art comes from within, and photographs are expressions of our artistic selves. So by all means seek the dramatic scene, but also look for the drama within the everyday—the kind of subject that if you don’t learn to look with eyes that see differently you may miss altogether. For example, a pepper from the supermarket, photographed above on a black velvet background.

May your muse take you from the mundane to the magnificent, and back again, and help you to see the drama, power and magic in both.

Golden Gate Sunset by Harold Davis

Golden Gate Sunset © Harold Davis


Posted in Photography

Bristlecone textures

I lead a night photography workshop in the Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains in eastern California every year. So of course I shoot night images while I am there. But it is worth bearing mind that there is so much more to shoot in the Patriarch Grove, like the textures of these ancient trees.

Bristlecone Study by Harold Davis

Bristlecone Study © Harold Davis

The White Mountains of California are themselves part of a fascinating landscape. In the rain shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains they verge on the great deserts of the American west. With White Mountain Peak topping out at over 14,000 feet it is a stark land of contrasts and alien majesty that is not very well known to the outside world.

White Mountain Peak by Harold Davis

White Mountain Peak © Harold Davis

Posted in Patterns, Photography

Patterns on my windows

Rainy season in Northern California can seem endless, and when it does rain for days the windows on the inside of my house steam up with myriad waterdrops. These droplets burn off quickly as soon as sunshine returns, but in the meanwhile they can create an interesting and exciting photographic opportunity—if, as I do, you like to see the magic in the mundane.

Steamy Window Glyph Study #1 by Harold Davis

Steamy Window Glyph Study #1 © Harold Davis

My first glyph image (above) shows the sky above and the earth below, both behind a steamy curtain of droplets, with vertical lines of clarity indicating the areas that are drying out first.

The second glyph (below) was shot closer in, of droplets on the glass in front of a screen window, with trees and foliage behind.

Steamy Window Glyph Study #2 by Harold Davis

Steamy Window Glyph Study #2 © Harold Davis


A final glyph shows the view in a different direction from another window, facing a driveway across the street. The driveway is surrounded by foliage and beginning to be lit by the morning sun.

Steamy Window Glyph Study #3 by Harold Davis

Steamy Window Glyph Study #3 © Harold Davis

It has been said that, if you want to be a better photographer, place yourself in front of more interesting things. But art comes from within, and photographs are expressions of our artistic selves. So by all means seek the dramatic scene, but also look for the drama within the everyday—the kind of subject that if you don’t learn to look with eyes that see differently you may miss altogether.

Posted in Abstractions, Patterns, Photography

On Duxbury Reef

A monster low tide occurred at the same time as the early winter sunset. Taking advantage of this conjunction, a friend and I wandered out on Duxbury Reef. Duxbury Reef, shown in the linked story from above, is one of the largest shale reefs in North America. It lies west of Bolinas in Marin County on California’s north central coast, and north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, within Point Reyes National Seashore.

On Duxbury Reef by Harold Davis

On Duxbury Reef © Harold Davis

Like Atlantis lost beneath the waves, the landscape you see in this image is usually far beneath the water. In fact, as sunset quickly turned to darkness we hurried off Duxbury Reef ahead of the massive oncoming tidal surge. Our route off the reef took us through arched tunnels normally hidden by the ocean, and past the feet of massive cliffs to the footpath at Agate Beach Park.

Exposure data: 35mm, four exposures at shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 2 minutes, each exposure at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted; exposures combined in Photoshop.

Comment: I used the 2 second exposure to capture the sunset colors, and the 2 minute exposure to capture the much darker foreground of the reef. The exposures were combined using layers, a layer mask, and a gradient. The longer exposure also allowed me to create the attractive fog-like effect, derived from the action of the water in motion.

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes

Seasons Greetings

Best wishes from Harold, Phyllis, and the Davis family for a happy holiday and a wonderful 2013!

Yosemite Dreams by Harold Davis

Yosemite Dreams © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Midwinter Print Fair

Come say hello to me at the Midwinter Print Fair hosted by PHOTO, Fine Art Photography in Oakland, California. I’ll be there Friday, January 4 and Saturday, January 5 along with many of my portfolios and prints that you won’t see elsewhere (hours and more information below).

January 4 is an Oakland First Friday Art Murmur, an energetic and authentic festival that the New York Times has called a “rambunctious art crawl and street bacchanal.” Saturday Stroll on January 5 is a related, but somewhat quieter, art-focused event for “art enthusiasts who prefer a lower profile scene.”

You are sure to enjoy your visit whichever day you decide to come. Proving that there is definitely a there there when it comes to art in Oakland.

White Irises by Harold Davis

White Irises © Harold Davis

Friday, January 4, 2013, 6 – 9pm
Saturday, January 5, 2013, 1 – 5pm

PHOTO, Fine Art Photography is hosting our first print fair. Please join us for an intimate look at six of our photographer’s portfolios. This is a unique opportunity to meet the artists and to buy and take home original prints.

Location: 473 25th Street, between Telegraph and Broadway, Oakland, California, 94612.

Check out the Midwinter Art Fair.

Posted in Photography

Avenue 6 1/2

Harry Potter has his platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross Station and New York City has its Avenue 6 1/2. As you might expect, Avenue 6 1/2 lies between 6th and 7th Avenues. It runs from 57th street south to 51rst street. The image shown here was taken in the atrium that forms the block between 51rst and 52nd streets on 6 1/2 Ave, and is one of the many places in New York City that my tripod and I managed to get ejected from.

Time Machine by Harold Davis

Time Machine © Harold Davis

How this image was made: I used my 10.5mm digital fisheye lens, and shot nine exposures from 4 seconds to 1/125 of a second. Each exposure was made at f/13 and ISO 200. As I’ve noted, I used a tripod to keep the image sequence aligned. The images were processing in Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop.

Want to learn to make this kind of image yourself? Check out my book Creating HDR Photos: The Complete Guide to High Dynamic Range Photography, and consider attending my HDR Bootcamp workshop.

Posted in New York

Hellebore Stems

A collector just ordered a copy of my Hellebore Stems (shown below). Originally, I shot the hellebores on a white background. To print the image on Moenkopi Kozo Washi I added a scanned paper background with a texture overlay. The technique is explained in my forthcoming book, which is tentatively titled The Way of the Digital Photographer and due to be published in mid-2013.

Hellebore Stems by Harold Davis

Hellebore Stems © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers


When you have four kids like I do, shopping for food occurs frequently. The one thing you want to do when you take the kids into the supermarket is to encapsulate them to prevent general madness, mayhem, and terrorizing of the civilian population.

Kids in a Shopping Cart by Harold Davis

Kids in a Shopping Cart © Harold Davis

What better way to encapsulate them than in a honey trap, like this shopping cart? Katie Rose and Mathew are shown in the “cab” and Nicky is riding on top.

It’s times like these that I am grateful for my iPhone camera because it is the camera I always have with me!

Posted in Bemusements, iPhone, Katie Rose, Kids


One of the most powerful tools we have as photographers is the ability to manipulate the viewer’s sense of scale. Why does this matter?

When the viewer first looks at an image they look to think they have have correctly assessed the contents. If, in fact, they realize they have not, or they sense ambiguity in the subject—as in, “What exactly am I looking at?”—the result is a double-take.

Low Tide at Drakes Beach by Harold Davis

Low Tide at Drakes Beach by Harold Davis—Click to view larger

This double-take leads directly to a clean slate. By misdirecting the viewer, we have given them the chance to view some portion of the world with new eyes. This means showing people something in a way they haven’t seen before—which is the goal of much photography.

Case in point: I shot the image above on a rock at low tide in the intertidal zone at Drakes Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, CA. For all the world it looks like a vast landscape from above, but as soon as the caption is noted the viewer will automatically adjust scale and visual expectations.

Posted in Abstractions, Point Reyes


The idea behind Within the Canvas (below) is to show the model emerging from a background. It is not clear where the model begins and where the model ends. Model and canvas seem to flow together. The fabric the model is wearing is part of the canvas. Or, is it?

Even as an issue of three-dimensional spacial relationships consider: Is the model is in front or in back of the canvas? Depending where you look in the image, both are possible—leading to potential paradox and visual impossibility. A potential solution is to assume there is a slit in the canvas, but this doesn’t really work (observe her hand).

Within the Canvas by Harold Davis

Within the Canvas © Harold Davis—Click to view larger

To make this image I shot the model on a white background. She was wrapped in sheer, white gauze. In post-production, I placed the model image as a layer on a canvas background, then added a series of textures on top of the Photoshop composite.

Related stories that show images with models and textures: Everything in Moderation; Like a Titian.

Also see: Impossible gallery; The eye believes what it thinks it sees; Models category; Models gallery (some models are NSFW).

Posted in Bemusements, Models, Photography

Wet Adherence

For the past several days we’ve had very wet and windy weather—the epitome of winter’s rainy season in the San Francisco Bay area. During an interlude in this weather I saw the Japanese maple leaf shown in the image plastered to the outside of an upstairs window.

Wet Adherence by Harold Davis

Wet Adherence © Harold Davis—Click to view image larger

To shoot the wet maple leaf, I positioned the camera on a tripod inside looking out—so the image is looking through a wet window to the leaf on the exterior. I used a macro lens, and shot two exposure sequences, one at moderate depth-of-field (f/10) for the window glass, and one stopped down (to f/22) to get the leaf itself maximally in focus.

The image you see combined four of the low-depth-of-field exposures (using Nik HDR Efex Pro) for the window pane. I then painted-in two exposures of the f/25 leaf exposures using layering and the Brush Tool in Photoshop.

Exposure data: 40mm macro, six exposures, all exposures at ISO 200,  4 exposures shot using shutter speeds between 1/15 of a second and 2.5 seconds at f/10, 2 exposures shot at shutter speeds of 2 seconds and 5 seconds with an aperture of f/25, tripod mounted, exposures combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop.

Posted in Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Everything in moderation—even moderation

I shot Kirsten using a large, strobe-powered softbox as the single source of illumination. The softbox was on a low setting and positioned above and to the right of the model. You can see the reflection of the light in Kirsten’s beautiful eyes. The low-level of very diffuse lighting, and the position of the single light, account for both the overall attractiveness of the light and the radical light fall-off on the left side of the image.

Kirsten by Harold Davis

Kirsten © Harold Davis

To process the image in Photoshop, I used a number of textured overlays on top of the background image of Kirsten. For example, one of these overlays was of linen canvas with a very definite texture. Another was the scanned papyrus that I’ve used in my Floral Tapestries (the background shown in Thistle While You Work is an example that uses this scan of a piece of papyrus).

The trick with this kind of post-processing is not to overdo it. As Oscar Wilde put it, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” I wanted Kirsten to look as gorgeous as she is naturally, and slightly abstract—but I didn’t want the post-production work to make her look artificial.

See Like a Titian for a related post-production treatment of a model.

Posted in Models