Monthly Archives: October 2017

Please join me at the opening of my photography exhibition November 9, 2017

Please join me at the opening of my photography exhibition Thursday November 9, 2017 at Shoh Gallery in Berkeley, California from 6-9 PM. I look forward to celebrating my vernissage with you!

Posted in Photography

My New Nikon D850: First Impressions

While I was away practicing night photography in the eastern Sierra, my new Nikon D850 arrived. Today I got to open the box, configure the menus, figure out where a couple of  controls that had (inexplicably) moved from their placement on my D810 had landed, and generally get to know my new go-to photographic capture device. The path to knowledge is practice; hence, the two versions of a photo of a very small flower I made in my garden today with my D850. I also plan to use my new beast to photograph on my light box tomorrow.

Osteospermum in Black and White © Harold Davis

I haven’t grokked everything about this beast yet, but it is pretty clearly a powerful and well-designed tool. I like the added resolution in the RAW files. Compared to the D810, the sensor has gone from 36.3-megapixels to a whopping 45.7-megapixels, a gain of about 25% over an already high-resolution professional camera. I also like the new LCD screen, which is a bit larger, folds out into different positions, and is touch sensitive (yeah, I know, what took so long?).

Osteospermum © Harold Davis

In preliminary conclusion, if I weren’t a professional with the need to deliver very large prints to collectors and customers, would I have spent the considerable money to upgrade from the D810 to D850? Hard to say, but easy to say that this is a remarkable tool for pursuing the craft of photography.

Note: I have no professional relationship with Nikon, other than that Nikon has occasionally licensed my images for use in various publications and on the Nikon USA website. I paid for this camera with my own cash money.

Posted in Photography

Under the Sheltering Sky

The novel The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles details a desert—the Sahara in trans-Atlas Morocco—that is anything but comfortable and sheltering, at least to foreigners. It’s true the desert can seem forbidding, but out at night with the stars and a few companions, the sky indeed seems sheltering.

Under the Sheltering Sky © Harold Davis

I made this image from the rear of the formation known as “Lady Boot Arch,” facing north, in the Alabama Hills of the Eastern Sierra in California.

Posted in Digital Night

PhotoPills Camp 2018

Please consider joining me and other Photography Masters at the PhotoPills Camp in May, 2018 on the beautiful island of Menorca. For more information, click here and register to get priority. If the link opens in Spanish (and you prefer English) click the Eng button on the upper right.

From the event description: 

And you’ll be experiencing the island the way we do, the way the islanders do. You’ll feel like a local, not like a tourist.

Simply mix Menorca’s gems with some of the best easy going photography masters, a jam-packed into the field and straight to the point class schedule (on creativity, planning, shooting, post-processing, social networks & business), multiple photo escapes to our secret locations, the delicious Menorcan cuisine, amazing beaches, hikes, horse riding and boat trips, night picnics, coffee talks, party moments and catching up with old and new friends, and finally add the distinctive PhotoPills fun flavour… and you get the perfect cocktail.

Your days will be full of learning, adventure, aha moments and meaningful connections

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Forgotten Kingdom

When you wander the desert of the imagination you don’t know what you might find—the possibilities range from a horse with no name to forgotten kingdoms of myth and legend and beyond.

Forgotten Kingdom © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night


While my night photography group turned most of their attention to Mobius Arch, I set my camera on auto-pilot on a rocky knoll to photograph the apparently empty landscape of Alabama Hills. The star trails in this image were created from a stack of 37 4-minute exposures, each exposure at ISO 400 and f/2.8. The foreground was blended in at roughly 90% opacity, and consists of an HDR blend of three exposures made at ISO 64, f/22, with shutter speed varying between 0.3 and 3 seconds. I used my Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 throughout.

I think the coolest thing about night photography is never knowing what the camera will reveal—certainly more than the eye can see!

Revelation © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night

Landscape of Blue Layers

From the heights of the White Mountains, the ranges to the south looked blue in the haze. With very little intermediation from me, photographic capture turned these vast spaces into a layered landscape of a near abstract quality.

Landscape of Blue Layers © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Photography

Night Finger Music

A few of us arrived in Lone Pine ahead of this weekend’s night photography workshop. After dinner, we went over to the Alabama Hills to practice a little night finger music—and to experience anew the wonder of the stars in the firmament.

Night Finger Music © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night

Autumn Poplars

In the early morning light I photographed poplars in the golden hues of autumn. Then I experimented with longer exposures and motion. This impressionistic result was a 3 second exposure with the camera on a tripod; I moved the camera up and down for the last half of the exposure.

Autumn Poplars

Posted in Photography

Lonely Road

I had hoped to leave the haze and smoke of the Bay area behind, but coming across Yosemite and then down the eastern slope of the High Sierra we descended into a miasma. As the light and visibility faded, I stopped beside a lonely road to photograph the line of telephone poles fading into the scarcely visible mountains in the distance.

Lonely Road

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome

Early-Bird Discount: Exploring Cathar Country and the Pyrenees-Orientales

Please consider joining me on a grand photographic adventure to southwest France in spring 2018: Exploring Cathar Country and the Pyrenees-Orientales (April 28-May 7, 2018). A substantial early-bird discount ($500 per person) applies for reservations accepted by Nov 15, 2017. Click here for more information about Cathars and Cathar country, here for a detailed day-by-day itinerary (PDF), and here for the Reservation Form.

Posted in Workshops

Opening in Night Photography Workshop Oct 20-23

Due to a cancellation, we have an opening in our upcoming night photography workshop in the Eastern Sierras Oct 20-23, 2017. Click here for more info and registration. It’s not to late to join a group of compatible night photographers in Lone Pine next weekend to enjoy the stars and night skies! A $50 discount is available.

Stars My Destination © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

It Starts with a Petal and Ends with a Twist of Fate

It started with two wonderful bunches of alstromerias (“Peruvian Lilies”), one purple and one yellow. On the alstromeria flower, the blossoms have exterior petals that are mostly solid colors (e.g., somewhat translucent, but without markings). In addition, there are usually three interior petals on each blossom that are mostly “tiger striped”—and great for transparency on the light box. You can get a good close-up look at both kinds of alstromeria petals in another of my blog stories.

Alstromeria Petal Mandala © Harold Davis

After we’d enjoyed the flowers for a while, I decided to use the interior, tiger-striped petals to make a pattern. My idea was to create two concentric spirals, one from the purple petals, and one from the yellow petals.

A Simple Twist of Fate © Harold Davis

This is a design that is somewhat maze-like in nature, and I have been drawing this double spiral as long as I can remember (essentially, this is a floral version of the doodle that got me through the boredom of law school many years ago!). The finished version, depending on how you look at things (and I have heard all of these by now), can be a maze, the spiral galaxy, a school of fish, human spermatozoa, a giant’s fingerprint—or even (in the school of a pipe sometimes just being a pipe!)—flower petals.

A Simple Twist of Fate 2 © Harold Davis

With the version on white (shown at the top of this story) I thought I was done, but of course, for the wicked as for the artist, there is never any rest! No, I in truth I am not seriously wicked. Alas, as much as I might like to be a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “bad boy” I am probably not wicked at all.

I had great fun inverting the original image in LAB color in Photoshop, creating a straight “translation” of whites to black and blacks to white (the “straight” LAB inversion is the first A Simple Twist of Fate image above).

A Simple Twist of Fate 3 © Harold Davis

Looking at the simple inversion, I immediately I thought of Paul Klee, and color field painters such as Kenneth Noland and Larry Poons from the 1960s. This made me feel impelled to have fun with more complex LAB manipulations, shown here with a black background.

As you can see, it all started with a flower petal, and ended in a simple twist of fate! Of course, the intermediate steps required a certain delicacy in handling and “drawing” with flower petals, not to mention expertise in high-key HDR photography, Photoshop workflow, and creative uses of LAB.

A Simple Twist of Fate 4 © Harold Davis

Which version is your favorite (and how twisted is fate?)?

I am looking forward to printing these six images as an ensemble. A very special thanks (and a very deep discount) to any of my collectors (or a new collector) who would like to place an advance order for one of these prints—or, better yet, for the suite of all six prints (contact me to discuss, or if interested, for details of this offer)!

A Simple Twist of Fate 5 © Harold Davis

Posted in Patterns, Photograms

Chorus of One

I worked with model Jin N Tonic to create a number of images in my Multiple Exposures series. In Chorus of One, I think Jin did a great job of positioning and placement (as well as having enthusiasm, and looking a bit like Marilyn). Jin’s ability to precisely place her body helped to create a sense of pattern across the eight times the strobes fired (each one being an exposure that was combined in-camera using its multiple exposure capability).

Chorus of One © Harold Davis

My Multiple Exposure images use choreographed, in-camera multiple exposures to create an almost stop-motion effect. I like what one can do with this approach, because it combines a technique as old as photography (in-camera multiple exposures) with the full power of modern digital technology. Why, I remember when…to make a multiple exposure on my old Nikon FM-2 you had to press a little button next to the wind lever, to fool the camera into thinking you had actually advanced the film to a new frame. Very mechanical, and yes it was possible to foul it up. Today, it is just a menu item.

Boys and girls, if you try this at home, remember to leave Autogain set to On; this is what balances the separate exposures together instead of letting brighter exposures prevail.

Posted in Multiple Exposures, Photography

Podcast with Harold Davis: A New Era for Black & White


Internationally-known digital artist and award-winning photographer Harold Davis joins the Mid CenturyBooks podcast to discuss his 2017 book, THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLACK AND WHITE HANDBOOK

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) © Harold Davis

Part 2, A New Era for Black and White

Harold Davis: “We came to the end of an era, pretty much, with film photography, and in fact, there was a time when the only photography anyone could do was black and white. Then, color film photography became the ascendant thing. And now we have an entirely new art form with a lot of new craft involved, and the idea behind the technical parts of this book, and it’s not that I’m going to tell everybody exactly what slider to press, with what software, but more the principles and ideas of how digital black and white photography work.”

Click here for the podcast, and see the latest additions to the Mid Century Books (sponsor of this podcast) photography collection

Click here for Part 1 of the podcast, Black & White Photography in the Digital Age.

Posted in Photography, Writing