Monthly Archives: January 2016

Blast from the Past: Sacré Coeur Passage

Originally published June 26, 2013:

La Basilique du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre sits high on a hill overlooking Paris. Controversial from long before the start of construction, the design of Sacré Coeur was a response to the supposed “moral decline” of France in the century following the French revolution, with the more proximate cause the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.

If this defeat represented divine punishment, as asserted by Bishop Fournier, then Sacré Coeur was an iconic response by the hard right-wing allied with monarchists and the Catholic church to the democratic rabble of Paris and the commune. This was not the first, nor the last, time that the forces of repression and the church were on the same side against their common enemy, the people when empowered—but it still was a bitter pill for some to swallow standing tall above the city of light.

Sacré Coeur Passage © Harold Davis

Sacré Coeur Passage © Harold Davis

Visited by millions of people a year, Sacré Coeur gets surprisingly little traffic up in the passage that circles the grand dome.  Perhaps the narrow and twisting stairs—all 280 of them—inhibit guests. The views are superb, as you can see in another image of mine from the dome that includes that other Parisian icon, the Eiffel tower.

Up in the passage around the dome of Sacré Coeur, the “rabble” has had its revenge. On the one hand, it is sad to see the elegant surfaces defaced by layer upon layer of graffiti and a general patina of neglect over time. On the other hand, this defilement—at least in part a deliberate statement—stands as mute testament to the true sentiments of many of those who visit: as much as a holy temple, Sacré Coeur is a political symbol created by those who would keep the people in their place.

Patina of Time © Harold Davis

Patina of Time © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Monochrome, Paris, Photography

Get Your Camera Off Auto

Once every two or three years I give a session of my Get Your Camera Off Auto all-day workshop. We have a session coming up here in Berkeley, California on Saturday January 23, 2016.

Romanesco Broccoli © Harold Davis

The point of this workshop is to demystify the underlying tools of photography—including exposure, aperture, f-stops, shutter speed, ISO, and focal length—and to demonstrate how they are related. This is a hands-on workshop.

There will be demonstrations and structured exercises in a supportive environment.

Once the concepts are clear, we will work one-on-one with participants to help them understand mentally and physically how to implement these ideas using their individual camera. Participants will be encouraged to apply the concepts that they are learning in conjunction with gaining an appreciation for seeing the world photographically.

If you are someone who thinks they have an affinity for seeing, but whose photos don’t quite match their vision with the camera on automatic, then this is definitely the workshop for you.

Also, this workshop is a great deal of fun, and a stimulus to creativity in other areas of your life in addition to photography!!!

Tuition is $99. To reserve your place, click here for more information, syllabus, and registration.

In a Blue Hour

Posted in Workshops

Positano Morning

The early morning light from my hotel room, the Villa La Tartana, in Positano, Italy was warm and life-affirming. I positioned my camera on the tripod, and bracketed a series of photos to combine to make this image. Back in the USA, we made a 40″ X 60″ print on Moab Slickrock Silver, one of Moab’s wonderful metallic papers, for display at the upcoming West Coast Art and Frame show in Las Vegas.

Positano Morning © Harold Davis

Positano Morning © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy

Davis Family Startup

Now if only I could direct them away from Minecraft and Wizard 101 into something that pays…from left to right in our computer lab for the kids, top row: Julian, Katie Rose. Bottom row: Nicky, Mathew.

Davis Family Startup © Harold Davis

Davis Family Startup © Harold Davis

Posted in Kids

Romanesco Broccoli

Browsing in the produce section of Berkeley Bowl I was transfixed by spiral nature of Romanesco Broccoli, an edible flower in the broccoli family.  The flower’s form approximates a natural fractal because each flower is composed of a series of smaller flowers, each arranged in a logarithmic spiral. This pattern is replicated in smaller sizes at different levels on the flower. The pattern is only an approximate fractal since the pattern eventually ends when the flower size becomes really small. The number of spirals found on the head of Romanesco broccoli is always a Fibonacci number.

Romanesco Broccoli © Harold Davis

Romanesco Broccoli (Black and White) © Harold Davis

I brought a nice head of Romanesco Broccoli home, and photographed it on white seamless using a macro lens with an extension tube to get close enough to show the spirals. The version above is in black and white, with the color version below.

Romanesco Broccoli (color) © Harold Davis

Romanesco Broccoli (color) © Harold Davis

By the way, I recently saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Some Romanesco Broccoli is featured in The Force Awakens. No, it is not the mystical, Fibonacci-driven world that Luke retires to (in case you wondered). The Romanesco Broccoli is a mere extraterrestrial garnish in the exotic drink Rey is handed in the scene in Maz Kanata’s Castle (along with a weird-looking fruit, a Citron, which coincidentally I also photographed recently). I guess the Disney stylists for The Force Awakens also wandered in the produce aisles at Berkeley Bowl!

Posted in Patterns, Photography