Monthly Archives: June 2017

2018 Photography Workshop to the Southwest of France with Harold Davis

Please consider coming with me and bringing your camera on an adventure to the “deep France” of the Lot River valley. The dates for our Destination Photography Workshop to the Romantic Southwest of France are April 19 (leave US April 18) – April 27, 2018. We will be hosted once again at the wonderful Mas de Garrigue near Calvignac. For more information, click here for the Prospectus, here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form.

This is a very small group, with a minimum size of six, and a maximum size of ten. There’s already been some enrollment. Early-bird discount ($500 off) expires August 15, 2017.

Please let us know if you have any questions, and hope to see you there!

Posted in Workshops

Podcast with Harold Davis

Check out this wonderful interview with me in a podcast produced by Mid Century Books. Click here for the podcast, here for the Mid Century Books blog story, and here for The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook on the Mid Century Books website.

Tables and Chairs, Valletta © Harold Davis

Here’s the description of the podcast: Internationally-known digital artist and award-winning photographer Harold Davis joins our podcast to discuss his 2017 book THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLACK AND WHITE HANDBOOK. Davis is a professional photographer, as well as teacher, world traveler, story teller, and he is a classically trained painter. A multi-published author, his writing is as evocative as his art, and this comes through in his visual style. In fact, he values writing so much, he calls himself a “photographer as poet.” He started his career in the New York art scene of the 1980s. Later, he spent time in California’s technology industry. Now Harold Davis heads his own studio in Berkeley, CA.

Part 1, What Should Be in a Photographer’s Backpack

Tuscan Road © Harold Davis

Posted in Writing

Matilija Poppies and Mallows

You got to love the Matilija Poppy, a California native, with its wonderful huge yellow center and puffy white petals. The poppies are of the Romneya genus (so are neither Papaver nor Eschscholzia), and grow on bushes from mid-California south into Mexico. In this image, I combined a central Matilija Poppy with some humble mallows, arranged in a crescent shape to create a subconscious sense of a circular sweep in the photo.

Matilija Poppy and Mallows © Harold Davis

Related stories: Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers; Mallows.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Secret Garden

I composed this image to emphasize the arch within an arch effect. In post-production, I carried through on the same visual idea by adding an outer frame with slightly rounded corners.

Secret Garden © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Monochrome

Special Snowflake

Gaillardia Seed Pod – LAB Inversion © Harold Davis

No, this is not really a snowflake at all. It’s a macro photo of the seed pod of a Gaillardia (“blanket flower”) [below] and the all 3-channels LAB inversion of the seed pod [above].

But I find myself intrigued that the term “special snowflake” has become one of political opprobrium, particularly when addressed from the radical right towards a sensitive liberal. Yes, I love snowflakes in their amazing crystalline structures, and isn’t it wonderful that each and every one is different. It’s hard not to admire the miraculous wonder of nature when you look closely at snowflakes, or even when you just watch the snow fall.

What a peculiar insult it is, as it is actually quite a compliment.

So call me a Special Snowflake. I won’t mind at all!

Gaillardia Seed Pod © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Ladybird Poppy

Yesterday was a cool Father’s Day. I woke to freshly brewed coffee and cards from the kids. Then I went with Phyllis, my own wonder woman, to see the new Wonder Woman movie in 3-D. When we got home, this Ladybird Poppy from our garden had a new blossom, and I photographed it while listening to the Beatles. 

Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’ © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

This Father Gives Thanks

On this Father’s Day, I want to give thanks for the miracle that is Katie Rose, and for all my kids. Thanks for my family. And thanks to all fathers who are there for their kids!

Katie Rose at about two months © Harold Davis

Katie Rose is Nine © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Through a Window with Selective Focus

With this rainy day abstraction, I focused carefully on a window wet with the incoming rain, and not on the colorful town beyond. I used a moderate telephoto setting (112mm) and a fairly wide aperture (f/5.6) to further visually separate the window from the scenery behind. I was standing close to the window, and focusing almost as close as the lens could go (about 30cm).

The point was to create a painterly abstract, which comes through when the image is seen in a large size. However, to get a sense of the actual, literal vista and the colorful houses and vegetation in the out-of-focus areas it is best to view the image on a postage stamp scale from a distance, and to squint!

if you are interested in using your camera to create abstract or semi-abstract images, there are many interesting techniques that should be in your toolkit. This example demonstrates the power of selective focus. Besides throwing an image out of focus (entirely, or selectively, or focusing on the “wrong” thing) some of the other most useful camera abstraction techniques are intentional camera motion, long exposure capture of moving subjects, and in-camera multiple exposing.

This image was photographed from a hallway in my hotel in Cat Ba, Vietnam, during a brief but heavy tropical downpour.

Rainy Day Abstraction, Vietnam © Harold Davis

Posted in Abstractions


Photographed with my iPhone camera, and processed in DistressedFX, Mextures, ImageBlender, and Snapseed.

Succulents © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone

Son Doong Cave

The interior landscape of Son Doong Cave is ethereal and fantastic. Keep in mind that this mystical landscape is cloaked in darkness. The camera sees far more than the naked eye.

Son Doong Cave © Harold Davis


Parting of the Veil © Harold Davis


Entrance to the Secret Valley © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Vietnam

Darkness into Light

This spring I visited and spent a number of days and nights in the world’s largest cave, in the jungle mountains of central Vietnam. Fewer people have been to the cave than have been into space. This was a journey of 6,000 miles to the other side of the world, and an arduous trek through the jungle, down precipices, and across narrow and high bridges in the darkness with water gurgling far below.

For me, the appeal of visiting the world’s largest cave was less to do with the “cavey things”, or even the varied landscapes and portals of the cave, and more to do with where one begins to see the light. In other words, this was a spiritual quest as all journeys are, or should be.

A core component of my quest was to peer into darkness and distinguish the void from the light, to attempt to examine this darkness and light in the context of the basic structure of photography, which is also about darkness and light.

Stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological wonders of the speleology are fine in their place. This is a landscape that is quite difficult to photograph traditionally in the absolute darkness of the void, and in the absence of logical markers of scale that we see in a more normal landscape. A challenge is always intriguing, but difficulties aside, the speleological features don’t interest me photographically.

What does appeal to me is the cave as metaphor, and metaphorical experience. From darkness we are born, sometimes easily and sometimes with difficulty, and emerge from the cave naked into the light.

Cave Shadows © Harold Davis

We struggle towards the light, and live with what we see in the shadows. At the other end another dark tunnel awaits, with who-knows-what on the other side.

Let There Be Light © Harold Davis

This is the story of our lives—with love, passion, and our journey from darkness to light. In the end, this reverses and we return to the void. At its best, a compelling image can help put us in touch with a piece of this journey. Always we must wonder: are we looking at reality, whatever that may be, or at a pale shadow, flickering on the walls of our cave?

Posted in Vietnam, Writing

Upcoming Flower Photography Workshops

We have two upcoming extended flower photography workshops this summer, one in Berkeley later this month, and one in Maine the first week of August:

Both workshops will be a great deal of fun, and cover my light box techniques as well as other topics (see the partial list below). If you are interested in my unique approaches, this is your chance: I do not expect to lead intensive flower photography workshops again for at least a year.

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Topics covered in each of these extended flower photography workshops will include:

  • Floral arrangement and composition
  • Botanical art in the digital era
  • Shooting florals in the field
  • Creative field techniques
  • Best practices in macro photography
  • Shooting flowers on a dark background
  • Shooting on a light box
  • Understanding high-key post-production
  • Working with Photoshop layers
  • High-key HDR
  • LAB color effects
  • Backgrounds and textures
  • Preparing to make floral pigment prints
  • Tips & techniques from Harold Davis
  • Implementing one’s own vision

Click here for current workshop offerings!

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

A Quartet of Peonies

Peony Core © Harold Davis


Peony Sunrise © Harold Davis


Pink Peony © Harold Davis


White Peony © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Shameless Quote Department

“Harold Davis is the digital black and white equal of Ansel Adams’s traditional wet photography. Adams would be awed by Davis’s work. In The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook Davis presents a large number of his photographs, and virtually every one is a masterpiece, ready for gallery or museum exhibit.”Seattle Book Review, rated five out of five stars and cross-posted in the San Francisco Book Review

Click here for more “Shameless Quotes”, click here for monochromatic (black & white) images on my blog, and here for current workshop offerings.

White River Falls, Oregon © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Writing

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers

To create this design for a stained glass window, I started by laying down a series of mallow blossoms in a loose spiral (the magenta flowers). Next, I filled in the reverse portion of the spiral with “two-week” iris blossoms, using the three-pronged stamen of the flower as a radial sub-pattern. Finally, I filled in most of the white spaces with “tiger-striped” petals from the alstromerias in our garden. Other than the alstromerias (“Peruvian Lilies”), the pattern is made up of California natives!

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers © Harold Davis

To reverse the pattern on a black background (below), I inverted the L-channel in LAB. As I’ll teach in my upcoming Flower Photography Intensive here in Berkeley and in Maine the first week of August, my technique is to then apply a curve adjustment to bring up the petals selectively. Next, I convert back to RGB, and selectively paste in the LAB three-channel inversion using the Exclusion blending mode.

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers (on Black) © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photoshop Techniques