Monthly Archives: February 2018

Ask Me Anything about Creativity and Inspiration

I am hosting an event on the Ask Me Anything feed. The way this works is that folks post questions (hence the “Ask Me Anything”) and I answer them, hopefully starting a dialog. The theme of my event is “inspiration and creativity.”

You can ask me a question whenever you like, but my answers will only be public once the event “goes live” on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at 4PM PST. Here’s a description of the event:

Ask Me Anything: Harold Davis, Internationally-Recognized Photographer, Workshop Leader, and Best-Selling Author

I am fortunate today to make my living licensing photos, making and exhibiting prints, leading workshops, and writing books. My work takes me all over the world and leads me into many adventures. I am a “photographer as poet,” meaning that my photographs have a poetic narrative. I make the images I want, and make a living from them.

You can learn more about my work on my website, also read my blog, and note my upcoming workshops and events, and browse my published book titles on Amazon.

Besides photography and writing, I have been a fine art painter, have a law degree, and have worked as a computer programmer and software developer. I have crossed the Brooks Range—the northern most mountains in Alaska—as a solo hiker. In the early days, I had a studio in New York, and hung from helicopters photographing the World Trade Towers. 

In my life and work, the most important aspect of my talent is inspiration and creativity. So inspiration and creativity always interest me, no matter what the field, whether it involves technology, writing, photography, or art. How do we find inspiration, and how do we stay passionate and creative?

Click here to ask me anything about passion, inspiration, and creativity!

Posted in Photography

Red Anemone

Yesterday we decided it was time to do some spring planting so I would have flowers to photograph and so our garden would look pretty. We came home with a few bulbs, some poppy plants, and a red anemone. Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was to photograph a red anemone flower blooming on our small plant on my light box!

Red Anemone © Harold Davis

Anemones are named after the mythological Greek spirits of the wind, because of how nicely they bob around in a breeze.

If you love anemones as much as I do you might like to check out some of my other anemone photos. Here are some other anemone images of mine: An Amazing Amalgamation of Anemones; Anemone Fun; Anemones; Core of the Anemone; Anemone on Black; White Anemone; Anemone Japonica.

These images of course go back a number of years. You can see these and more via a keyword search for “anemone” on my blog!

Posted in Flowers, Photography


Bullseye © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Night and Low Light Photography in Heidelberg, Germany (August 2018)

I am pleased to announce the opening for registration of my Night & Low Light Photography workshop in Heidelberg, Germany! The dates are August 19-20, 2018. Click here for the registration link and info (it is in German but you can read a translation here); don’t worry, I will be teaching in English! Please consider exploring Heidelberg with me. You can check out some of my night and low light images by clicking here.

How Long Must Eye Wait? © Harold Davis

Workshop Overview: This two-day workshop includes field photography in several locations and covers the theory and practice of night and low light photography. There is great joy in learning more about what Vincent van Gogh termed “the colors of the night.” In addition, and perhaps more important, low light photography techniques cut across a wide gamut of photographic genres. Becoming comfortable with these techniques will enhance the arsenal of photographers at any level of sophistication.

The workshop will feature many of the field and processing techniques shown in Harold’s books Creative Night Photography and The Photoshop Darkroom.

Click here for the registration link and info.

Posted in Workshops

Black and White Photography in Heidelberg, Germany (August 2018)

I am pleased to announce the opening for registration of my Black & White Photography workshop in Heidelberg, Germany! The dates are August 17-18, 2018. Click here for the registration link and info (it is in German but you can read a translation here); don’t worry, I will be teaching in English! Please consider exploring Heidelberg with me (here are some of my images and stories from previous visits to Heidelberg)!

Nautilus in Black & White

Nautilus in Black & White © Harold Davis

Workshop Overview: Master Photographer Harold Davis will guide participants in all aspects of modern monochromatic digital photography and processing. Workshop participants will take advantage of several Heidelberg locations, with field destinations to be determined depending on weather and group predilections. 

Classroom sessions will discussion vision, craft, and technical issues related to modern monochromatic practice.

Click here for the registration link and info.

Posted in Workshops

Davis Family Portrait

I gathered the family for a portrait in our backyard, with the camera on a tripod, and using the self-timer to get me in the group. I’m often asked when I am traveling about my family, and since I have some exciting travel later this year I wanted to have something recent to show people. Besides, the years go by so quickly, and it is good to make some images of the kids as time passes.

Davis Family Portrait © Harold Davis

Back row (from left to right): Phyllis, Julian, and Mathew.

Front row: Katie Rose, Nicky, and Harold.

Posted in Kids

Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia—magnolia stellata—is one of my favorite flowers. In the past I’ve photographed magnolia stellata for transparency here, as an upright branch, and as a light box panorama.

The two photos in this story are made in the field. I photographed these new stellata blossoms on location down the block, with the idea of contrasting the center of each flower with the softness of the stellata petals.

Magnolia Stellata B © Harold Davis

Magnolia Stellata © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Central Park South at Night

Wandering around New York City about a year ago with my camera and tripod at dusk, on my way to a meeting with a publisher, I came upon the reflections of the Plaza Hotel and city lights coming on in the lake at the southern end of Central Park.

Central Park South © Harold Davis

I always feel so peculiar in New York since I know it so well from having lived there and grown up in “the city”: familiar, and at the same time a place that is utterly alien and has changed beyond recognition (kind of like our overall society). In any case, I am looking forward to a few days in New York between Maine and Germany this coming summer.

Posted in Digital Night, New York

From the iPhone files

Here are two recent iPhone images. I photographed the tree in the Walnut Creek area in the foothills below Mt Diablo. This was originally two iPhone captures, one exposed for the bright sun coming through the tree, and the other for the darker foreground. 

Tree © Harold Davis

I combined the two exposures using the manual option in the TrueHDR iPhone app, then finished it with DistressedFX and Snapseed.

I photographed the tulips (shown below) the other day at our local Trader Joe’s store. I processed the image in Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect with borders, then reprocessed the Waterlogue version with the original (using ImageBlender) to walk the Waterlogue effect back a bit.

Tulips © Harold Davis

I’m often asked how iPhoneography compares to “real” photography with my “Big Boy” cameras. It’s worth saying again that there is no right or wrong. Photography is about vision and seeing, not about gear. The craft of photography is always a craft of trade-offs, and there are things I can do with my iPhone camera and related apps that I cannot do with my Nikon D850 (and of course vice versa as well).

Posted in Flowers, iPhone, Landscape

Into the Third Dimension

I’ve had fun with a genre of light box work recently that involves arranging petals into abstract compositions. This is quite different conceptually from my botanical art—I use the petals like brush strokes to create an abstract composition such as a mandala, or something that is more a gesture than a flower.

Spiral Arm of the Petal Galaxy © Harold Davis

Not that my passion for botanical art is going away anytime soon! In fact, Phyllis and I are hard at work on a new book, The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency. We also have two spaces left in our hands-on June workshop that teaches the floral transparency techniques.

But it is always good to experiment, both to recharge those creative batteries, and also because experimenting can take one beyond one’s limits and open new horizons.

Up to this point my “petal constructions” have been essentially flat, or two dimensional. For example, Stars of Petals and its variations.  I’ve also painted with petals to create version of iconic symbols, using Celtic designs, the Shahada of Islam, and apotropaic symbolism. Apotropaic symbols are magical mechanisms for warding off evil.

Spiral Arm of the Petal Galaxy © Harold Davis

As noted, these designs depict two-dimensional space, e.g., perspective rendering is not part of the deal. With the Spiral Arm of the Petal Galaxy composition, shown in this story, I have ventured into the appearance of three-dimensions. This is a trend that I expect to continue. By the way, I encourage you to look at Spiral Arm of the Petal Galaxy in as large a size as possible (and to magnify the fractal heart of the spiral).

Now if I could only figure out how to render a fourth dimension!

Posted in Photography

Days and Knights of Malta Destination Photo Workshop November 2018

Please consider joining us for an exciting destination photo workshop to Valletta, the capital of the island country of Malta, and the Maltese island Gozo, thought to be Calypso’s island from the classical Odyssey. The dates are November 3-12, 2018. Making this visit especially timely, Valletta, Malta will be hosting the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018! Click here for more information, and here for the Reservation Form.

At the cross-roads of history and central to the Mediterranean, Malta is a romantic and uniquely situated island countryMalta boasts some of the oldest free-standing structures in the world, numerous incredible fortifications, and a capital (Valletta) that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its entirety

Because of its unique attributes, history, location, and size, Malta presents great photographic opportunities in a very manageable environment. We’ll walk the fabled cobble-stoned streets, stairs, and ramparts of Valletta with our cameras, explore locations known only to locals, and enjoy legendary Maltese hospitality. In the evening, when we’re not photographing sunset or the night sky, we’ll critique our photos and work on extending our range of photographic techniques.

Excursions will include:

  • A sunset harbor cruise of Valletta and the surrounding areas
  • Special boat tour of the Blue Grotto designed for us to allow for photography
  • The fabulous fishing harbor at Marsaxlokk
  • A sunset visit to the citadel at Mdina
  • Tour of the world-famous neolithic sites with a local archaeology expert

Besides our time on the main island of Malta, we’ll also travel by private bus and the ferry to the island of Gozo, where we will spend two nights. Gozo is likely the island famed in antiquity called Ogygia, where Calypso lived. Limerick poet extraordinaire Edward Lear described its coastal scenery as “ponskizillious and gromphiberous, being as no other words can describe its magnificence.” On Gozo, we will visit sea cliffs, salt pans, small villages, churches, and beaches.

Click here for more information, and here for the Reservation Form.

Valletta © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Photographing Flowers for Transparency Video at SVA

If you are interested in my photographing flowers for transparency images and techniques, you might like a video of my presentation about a year ago on this topic at the School of Visual Arts in New York. By the way, I am working a book with the detailed workflow and techniques, the title is The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency.

The video is on YouTube, and embedded below. If you can’t see the video in this post, you can click this link to view it on YouTube.

Masters in Digital Photography: Photographing Flowers for Transparency with Harold Davis at the School of Visual Arts in New York

Posted in Photography

A Trio of Tulips (and Macro Lenses)

Phyllis came home with a beautiful bouquet of tulips, and this morning I photographed them on the kitchen table. Warm morning sunlight lit the flowers from behind with a glow. I could control the light using the adjustable blinds on the kitchen windows, and also by moving the placement of the flowers so they were in and out of sunbeams.

Inside the Tulip C © Harold Davis

This is the tale of some pretty flowers, nice natural ambient light, and three different 85mm lenses. To start with, I had my heavy-duty RRS tripod on the floor so I could bring the ballhead to the right height to get into the tulip blossoms from beneath. I mounted a 50mm extension tube with a tripod collar onto the ballhead. 

My first image, Inside the Tulip C (above), was made using my Zeiss Otus 85mm at f/16, focused as close as it could go on the extension tube.

Inside the Tulip B © Harold Davis

To make the next version, Inside the Tulip B (above), I swapped my 85mm Zeiss Otus for the 85mm Lensbaby Velvet and photographed wide-open (at f/1.8). Essentially, I was trading optical perfection for perfection in impressionismo! The Lensbaby Velvet makes a very different image stopped down (to f/16) in Inside the Tulip A (below)—note that the point of focus was the same for both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions. It’s worth mentioning that this lens has macro capabilities, so (combined with the extension tube) I was definitely working at a greater magnification ratio than in the ‘C’ version.

Inside the Tulip A © Harold Davis

Since I’d already had fun with two different 85mm lenses, I decided to try a third, my Nikkor 85mm tilt-shift macro. As I’ve noted before, this is a fully manual lens, without even automatic diaphragm control—you need to press a button to manually stop the lens down when you are ready to expose.

Combined with the extension tube with the macro capabilities of this lens you can really get pretty much into microscope territory. But is too much ever enough? I added a +4 close-up filter to the front of the lens, focused on the small central indent in the tulip petals, and stopped down to f/45 (as an “adjusted aperture” this records in EXIF data as f/64 by the way).

Tulip Petal © Harold Davis

Since this is a monochromatic image (in orange) and more about the patterns it presents than the coloration, I decided to try a black and white conversion, shown below.

Tulip Petal in Black and White © Harold Davis

All-in-all, a fun morning was spent photographing tulips up close and personal. There were some other things on my lists to accomplish, but I have learned (when I can) to relax, let go, and let art!

Posted in Flowers