Monthly Archives: November 2017

Exhibition of my photography extended through December 1, 2017

Road Less Traveled by Harold Davis

Road Less Traveled © Harold Davis

My photography is on exhibit at Shoh Gallery in Berkeley, California has been extended through December 1, 2017 (Road Less Traveled, shown above, is one of the images in the show). This is the first time I’ve seen my work in one place across a number of years in many of the genres that I work in, and I think it is a very exciting and well presented exhibition (if I say so myself). Special thanks to Julie, the gallery director! I hope the extra week will give all of you who’ve asked chance to get to my show.

Come visit if you get the chance! Click here for information about Shoh gallery, its location and hours. Click here for the exhibition press release. Some photos of the installation are shown below.

Posted in Photography

Three More Variations

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 6 © Harold Davis

This is the series that starts in an earlier story

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 7 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 8 © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

It Starts with a Photo

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 3 © Harold Davis

Actually, in this case it starts with an arrangement on my light box, and eight high-key HDR exposures recombined in Photoshop. The resulting image is shown immediately below.

Stars of Petals © Harold Davis

An LAB L-Channel inversion puts the image on a black background, like so:

Stars of Petals on Black © Harold Davis

From here, it was time to play with post-production, using rotations, horizontal and vertical reversals, a variety of Photoshop blending modes, and more LAB processing. Which variation do you like best?

Stars of Petals Calligraphic Variation © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 1 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 2 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 4 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 5 © Harold Davis

Posted in Patterns, Photograms, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Harold Davis Photography Exhibition until Nov 25 at Shoh Gallery—Come Visit!

Slot Canyon © Harold Davis

My photography is on exhibit at Shoh Gallery in Berkeley, California through November 25, 2017 (Slot Canyon, shown above, is one of the images in the show). This is the first time I’ve seen my work in one place across a number of years in many of the genres that I work in, and I think it is a very exciting and well presented exhibition (if I say so myself). Special thanks to Julie, the gallery director!

Come visit if you get the chance! Click here for information about Shoh gallery, its location and hours. Click here for the exhibition press release. Some photos of the installation are shown below.

Posted in Photography

Constructing an image from the materials of nature

Petals of the Rainbow © Harold Davis

In a recent article on art and beauty, I wrote:

I would rather think of myself as an inventor more than a discoverer of beauty. My hope is to use the echoes of beauty to reinforce the spiritual, and to create a sense of order that is not too orderly in all the romantic and ecstatic chaos of the universe.

This is the best role of the artist whatever toolset is used: to construct from the smallest and most eternal blocks and bits and pieces, and build up something bold and (dare we say it) beautiful from the nothing that always sits ready to engulf us.

If we can take and make beauty in this way with our art, then we’ve added to the sum of good that is in the universe, created beauty, and elevated the sense of the spiritual. This is the highest calling of the artist, and there is not much one can add to it except to do so without fear or favoritism, and to avoid pulling one’s punches because of the all-too-human desire to be loved.

I am not knocking photos that say “This is a waterfall.” There are exquisite images of waterfalls and other subjects that are representations by some excellent artists, and I often attempt this kind of imagery myself, where some of the emotional appeal comes from the viewer’s belief—or suspension of disbelief—that they are looking at something natural.

But the key word in the preceding paragraph is “representations”—as a two dimensional construct, a photo cannot actually be the three-dimensional waterfall. Most of the time, there is much more monkeying around with the pixels of reality than even this reductio ad absurdum argument implies.

The gist of my argument is that everything is a construction. So why not think expansively and expressively? Art, and digital photography in particular, is a big tent that reaches from apparently representational images of nature to constructs made from a variety of materials, including those supplied by nature, and includes myriad other genres as well.

Fortification on Black 2 © Harold Davis

In the spirit of constructing art using natural materials as the building blocks for the construct, the two images shown with this story are constructs made from flower petals, photographed on a light box on a white background, and converted to a black background using LAB color techniques and Photoshop blending modes.

To follow the path from petals on a white light to a colorful construction on black, check out It Starts with a Petal and Ends with a Twist of Fate!

Posted in Photography

How Long Must Eye Wait?

Wedged in a crack behind the aptly-named Ladyboot Arch in the Alabama Hills of the eastern Sierra near the Nevada border of California, I already knew this wasn’t going to be the perfect image. For one thing, the lens I was using, my dearly beloved Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 horizontal fisheye had blown over in an accident a few days earlier, with a nasty crack on the front optical element.

How Long Must Eye Wait? © Harold Davis

The focus of the lens was also jammed, stuck (fortunately) on infinity. That is, nobody wants focus to be jammed, but if an extreme wide-angle has to have a single focus, infinity would be the choice.

Ultimately, I had no idea whether shooting through this damaged lens would produce reasonable results.

I was also faced with a problem of topography: the crevice I was in would not let me set the tripod up normally, and I had to spread the legs and wedge them against the rock walls.

Finally, all was ready to start the timer on the intervalometer. But for reasons unknown, it simply wouldn’t work with the camera. 

Falling back on “Plan B” with grace under pressure is a normal part of any photographer’s toolkit. My Nikon camera has on-board intervalometer functionality, admittedly with an inscrutable user interface. The limitation is that the shutter speed maxes out at 30 seconds. 

Normally, my practice with this kind of photography is to set the camera to Bulb, and shoot a sequence of wide open (or nearly wide-open) captures at four minutes (using ISO 400). 

Dropping the shutter speed down to 30 seconds meant I was exposing for 1/8 the duration of time I normally would (because 30 seconds is 1/8 of 4 minutes). To compensate, I needed to boost the ISO by a factor of eight, from 400 to 3,200.

The final exposure data was 141 exposures, each exposure made at 30 seconds, f/2.8, and ISO 3,200. Post-production was in Photoshop, using the Statistics script with stack mode set to Maximum.

Here’s an image from the front of Ladyboot Arch, and another image from the rear of the arch (made with my other camera, a working intervalometer, and the Zeiss 15mm wide-angle lens!).

Night photography workshops are indeed a great deal of fun, and I am looking forward to a repeat engagement in Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, with my friend and distinguished night photographer Steven Christensen of Star Circle Academy as co-teacher in 2018. The dates are Friday, September 7 through Monday, September 10, 2018. Click here for more information!

Posted in Digital Night, Landscape, Photography, Workshops

Grizzly Falls

Just off the road along the South Fork of the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park, Grizzly Falls presented great contrasts of light and dark. I used a neutral density filter to make a long exposure (fifteen seconds) and to soften the flowing water. As I setup my camera and tripod, I glanced at the top of the falls. Someone, no doubt a good climber, had placed the Republic of California grizzly bear flag on a wood stick at the top of the falls, where it was fluttering in the breeze—and, as such, showed the only grizzly bear likely to be seen around Grizzly Falls, since the species is, of course, extinct in California.

Grizzly Falls © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome, Photography

If Jackson Pollock Dripped using Flower Petals

The great abstract expressionist painter Jackson Pollock created his paintings largely by throwing paint and ink to drip against the canvas. But suppose he had used flower petals rather than ink?

If Jackson Pollack Dripped Using Flower Petals © Harold Davis

Looking at Pollock’s art, I find a great deal of structure beneath the apparent abstraction, chaos, and anarchy. As I made my flower-petal Pollock I tried to imbue the piece with a comparable underlying structure, admittedly not always apparent amid the flower petals I “dripped” at random onto my light box!

Posted in Photography

Landscape in Layers

It’s fun to photograph a landscape that appears to be layered. Usually, this works best in the early morning or later afternoon (or even earlier at sunrise, or later at sunset), also when there is a little fog or haze.

There’s a small amount of optimization and tweaking one can do in post-production, but mostly this is an issue of being ready with one’s camera in the right place at the right time. Most of the art is being there with eyes open and camera ready.

Besides the image shown here, photographed from Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, looking towards the great California central valley, with fog obscuring most of the coastal range, in this genre check out Landscape of Blue Layers (the White Mountains of Eastern California),  Sunrise in Rural Romania, Mountains near Meo Vac (northern Vietnam), Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po (Japan), and Distant Mountains (Panamint Range of Eastern California).

Down in the Valley © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Photography