Monthly Archives: March 2017

Reflections in The Pond, Central Park

Walking south from Bethesda Fountain to get to my dinner appointment on West 57th Street, I stopped by a body of water at the southeast corner of Central Park to enjoy a few minutes of tranquility, and to get centered before I met a representative from the publisher of The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook. Alas, tranquility was not to be.

Reflections in The Pond, Central Park © Harold Davis

Reflections in The Pond, Central Park © Harold Davis

I climbed out on a rocky peninsula, and started getting my tripod set up. At that moment there was a huge urban caterwauling of emergency vehicle sirens. I never learned what the fuss was about, but the red lights across Central Park South added to my color palette during my longish (thirty second) exposure. The morals: One person’s firetruck is another person’s aesthetic element; and, quietness is a rare commodity in a major metropolis!

Posted in New York, Photography

Wedding Day

This is a photo of my darling Phyllis and myself on our wedding day almost 25 years ago. The color print (an inexpensive drugstore print made from color negative film I think) was starting to fade, so we scanned it to preserve it. Phyllis and I walked to St Michael’s Church from our apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I remember crossing Broadway with a little old lady cackling and waving a cane and shouting to Phyllis, “Kiss him, you fool!”

H_and_P.b

We’ve come along way since that day. Across the country, and four kids later, marrying Phyllis was the best thing I’ve ever done. It hasn’t all been a bed of roses. We’ve weathered kids in intensive care, illnesses, battles with the school district, and financial pressures. But every day and in every way our relationship has grown richer, and I love Phyllis even more (if that is possible) than the day we married.

Posted in Writing

My Grandparents: Harry and Helen Davis

These are portraits of my paternal grandparents. Harry Davis was born Herschel Davidowitz in 1892. Helen Davis, nee Gotlieb, born in 1895, and Harry were both from Lodz, Poland. They met in New York, and were married in 1925.

Harry Davis (born Hershel Davidowitz); Photographer Unknown

Harry Davis (born Hershel Davidowitz); Photographer and Date Unknown

The images are flatbed scans of sepia tinted photos that have suffered some damage over the years. The photographer and date of the sitting(s) are unknown. Clearly, these portraits marked some kind of formal or special occasion, as the subjects are dressed up and looking their best. This is not the kind of studio portrait that would have happened every day.

Helen (nee Gotlieb) Davis; Photographer and Date Unknown

Helen (nee Gotlieb) Davis; Photographer and Date Unknown

I never knew my grandfather Harry Davis as he died in 1947 before I was born. However, in his absence, he was a figure who has loomed fairly large in my life, since he was an artist, and I was named after him.

My grandma Helen on the other hand was a beloved if somewhat peculiar presence in my early years. I believe that English was her fourth language (after Yiddish, Polish, and German). This led to an idiosyncrasy of language that was particularly noticeable in her essentially incomprehensible written communications. Her vast love for her family was immediately and always apparent, and I loved her a great deal.

My father adds some biographical details:

Harry and Helen knew one another slightly in Lodz. She came to borrow books at an informal lending library that he and his friends had established in Lodz. His friend Felix Kornberg was married to her sister Regina. Harry reconnected with Helen at the Bronx apartment of Bessie, another sister.

Harry had been taken as a forced laborer to Germany during World War I. After the war he and his brothers established a furniture manufacturing business in Leipzig, Germany. So he came to New York City from Germany.

Helen really didn’t know German. For her, speaking German was just speaking Yiddish with a different accent, especially a very soft “l”.

Posted in Writing

White Rose Blushing in Color and Black and White

I thought this white rose with a hint of satin-like blush was going to look great in black and white, but when I processed it I saw that the color had some appeal as well. One of the great things about digital black and white is that you can have a “two-fer”: a color image and a monochromatic image. 

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

 

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

I photographed this white rose using ambient sunlight with my 200mm f/4 Nikkor macro lens on a tripod, and a 18mm extension tube to get a little closer. Each image is a blended combination of six exposures, stopped down to f/32 and bracketed one EV apart for each exposure (by shutter speed).

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

 

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome

Upcoming Flowers Workshop Opening & Early-Bird Discounts Expiring

We have two spaces open in my upcoming Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop here In Berkeley California the coming weekend of March 12-13, 2017. I have a version of this workshop I’ll be leading the first week in August at Maine Media Workshops but otherwise I will not be scheduling it again for quite a while, probably not until well into 2018.

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Also two workshops have early-bird discounts that are ending in one week (on March 10, 2017). If you are interested in these workshops, why not take advantage of the $50 advance registration discount? They are:

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

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Posted in Workshops

Harold Davis Presents Photographing Flowers for Transparency at School of Visual Arts Masters in Digital Photography

I’m pleased to share with you my presentation on Photographing Flowers for Transparency at New York’s School of Visual Arts in the Masters in Digital Photography program. Enjoy!

If for some reason the video of my presentation doesn’t load here, you can also watch it on YouTube!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Harold Davis on Black & White Vision at B&H Photo in New York: the Video

I was in New York as part of a trip to promote my new book The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook. My presentation at B&H Photo was well attended and fun for me. The good folks at B&H were very kind to a somewhat jet-lagged peripatetic photographer. The video of my presentation is now available.

If for some reason the video of my presentation doesn’t load here, you can also watch it on YouTube!

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Finding Interesting Photos at Home

In recent years I’ve seen much of the world. All this traveling has led to photography of some very beautiful and interesting places. So when I show my work, not infrequently I get the reaction, “Harold, this is all very well and good, but I can’t afford to pack up and go to the places you go.”

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Yes, travel is fun, and can put one’s camera in front of some very photogenic things. But, more importantly, I think one of the primary benefits of travel is to teach one about the wonderful world we live in and its peoples. Also, interestingly, travel can teach one about oneself.

So I recommend photographic travel highly, but by no means is it necessary for the creation of exciting imagery. A case in point: the onion growing green shown about came right out of our fridge. It’s growing and twisting and changing into something else, a process that is familiar to all living things. Hence I have called the photo Metamorphosis, which refers to a change from one state of being (the onion) to another (the green shoots).

Posted in Photography

Vietnamese Dongs (VNDs)

I’m very excited about an upcoming photo trip to Vietnam. In preparation for my trip, I stopped by my bank and got some walking around money. The local currency is the Vietnamese Dong, or VND. The photo below shows 1,600,000 VNDs. This is a little less than $70 at current exchange rates.

Vietnamese Dongs (VNDs) © Harold Davis

Vietnamese Dongs (VNDs) © Harold Davis

Below, the revered Ho Chi Minh as shown on a 200,000 VND banknote. Ho once stated something we would do well to heed in these times, “Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.”

Ho Chi Minh © Harold Davis

Ho Chi Minh © Harold Davis

Posted in Vietnam