Monthly Archives: April 2019

Paris Landscape

With the storm receding, from the top of the Tour Montparnasse near sunset, Paris looked like it could be any other rain-wracked landscape (of course, it is not, there is only one Paris), with La Défense clustered behind the almost-toy Eiffel Tower.

Paris Landscape © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Landscape, Paris

Temple of Mercury

Within Schwetzingen Garden, the Temple of Mercury is an intentional ruin from the late 1700s. Built to romantically fall down, the question today is how to conserve a structure intended from the start to be a ruin.

Photographed as the sun rose with my iPhone, and processed using the Plastic Bullet, Snapseed, ImageBlender, and Photo Lab apps on my iPhone.

Temple of Mercury © Harold Davis

Mercury to the Romans was Hermes to the Greeks. Messenger of the Gods (with winged sandals), God of medicine (hence the caduceus), travelers, thieves, and other assorted magical riff-raff. On good days I regard Hermes as a patron, and hope he helps keep me safe and happy as I wander.

Posted in Germany, iPhone, Photography

X-Ray Flower Medley Fusion

This image combines—hence the term “fusion”—the x-ray version of the floral medley composition with a translucent version of the same arrangement photographed in alignment on a light box.

X-Ray Floral Medley Fusion © Harold Davis

Posted in X-Ray

X-Ray Floral Medley

Working with Dr Julian Kopke, I laid out this x-ray composition on a sheet of plexiglass above the sensor. The results you see are actually two x-rays combined, because there is falloff at one of the x-ray, so the second exposure was flipped to create a combined even image. We also used the plexiglass backing in registration to create a light box image of the composition, and I will try later to see what combining the x-ray (interior structure) with the external appearance of the flowers looks like. Check out my FAQ for more information about this kind of imaging.

X-Ray Floral Medley © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome, X-Ray

Enchanted Castle Garden

My friend’s friend had a key to the side gate into the grand garden of the Schwetzingen Castle. The friend’s friend was prevailed upon to let us into the garden before sunrise with our cameras and tripods. Perhaps a “bribe” of a case of designer beer was involved.

Inside, and alone with the garden, I was reminded of the enchanted garden that was magic and came to life at night in E. Nesbit’s classic work of Edwardian children’s fantasy, The Enchanted Garden.

As the sun came up we explored the vast grounds and photographer. The Japanese Bridge is shown below.

Japanese Bridge, Schwetzingen Garden © Harold Davis

The fantasy mosque (below) is complete with minarets and inscriptions in Arabic and German. Each Arabic inscription has errors of punctuation and vocalization, apparently the fault of the stonemason who was carving the transcriptions.

The mosque was built in the late 1700s, and is the last remaining Garden Mosque of the eighteenth century in Europe, and a testimony to the western fascination with things Arabic of that era.

Schwetzingen Garden Mosque © Harold Davis

Posted in Germany, Photography

Visual Palindrome

A palindrome is a phrase that is the same read backwards and forwards. Some examples are Madam I’m Adam, A man a plan a canal Panama, and of course Napoleon’s plaintive exclamation, Able was I ere I saw Elba.

Reflections in the Untersee isn’t exactly a backwards-and-forwards palindrome (if such a concept exists in the visual world) but it does manifest a related phenomenon: an image that can be read in either vertical direction.

My blog story about Reflections in the Untersee shows the image composed “As Shot,” and as seen in real life by yours truly.

Several people pointed out with varying degrees of asperity that they thought the photo was upside down. There was some suspicion that I had flipped the image as intentional trickery. This was not the case (although I am certainly capable of doing so in the right situation). I really hadn’t seen this until it was pointed out, but the image does work as well (or better) flipped vertically.

In the “correct” version the dark shallows of the lake in the foreground looks a little weird, but when flipped these dark areas make visual sense (but are not authentic) perhaps as deeper water.

The poles, and their reflections, and the duck, and its reflections, seem to work either way.

I think that when I print this image I will do it as a palindromic diptych. The original version as it was in real life will be on the left, and I will flip it horizontally as well as vertically on the right, something like this.

Reflections in the Untersee © Harold Davis

Reflections (Flipped) © Harold Davis


Posted in Photography

Reflections in the Untersee

Before coming to Lake Konstanz, I didn’t have a very good sense of its geography, other than Lake Konstanz was on the border of Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. My friends had invited me, they are German and know the area well, and I left everything to them.

What turns out is the Lake Konstanz is about sixty miles long, and, yes, there are three countries along its shores.

The great Rhine River flows into Lake Konstanz, and flows out at its bottom. The lower part of the lake, where we are staying, is called the Untersee, or lower sea. This photo shows sunrise reflections of posts and a duck in the Untersee shortly after sunrise today.

Today, we drove about an hour into Switzerland—not part of the Eurozone, so we had to make sure we had our passports since we’d be crossing the border. We visited the Rhine Falls, the biggest waterfall in Europe, with snowmelt from the Alps feeding Lake Konstanz. The tourist concessions around Rhine Falls are every bit as toxic and annoying as those around Niagara Falls, but it is still a magnificent spot. If my photos come out, I will post one later!

Reflections in the Untersee © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Sunflower Mandala

The Peruvian lily (botanically alstroemeria), or “Lily of the Incas,” was once limited to two small ranges in South America, one blooming in the winter (Chile), and one in the summer (Brazil). Hybridization across the winter and summer species, starting in the 1980s in Holland, led to today’s flower that is a staple of the modern commercial flower industry—and is green and growing most of the year in our garden. The genus alstroemeria was named after the Swedish baron Clas Alströmer, a close friend of Linnaeus, he of the classifications.

Sunflower Mandala (Black) © Harold Davis

Petals from the alstroemeria are wonderfully translucent, colorful, and a great palette for my light box compositions when the blossoms are dissected. As a last light box hurrah before my month-long upcoming trip, I pulled a collection of alstroemeria petals apart, and arranged them around a sunflower. Katie, wandering through the living room, took a look at the proceedings—and indicated her disapproval of the deconstruction of a “living thing,” the Peruvian lily flowers.

Sunflower Mandala (White) © Harold Davis

Posted in Abstractions, Flowers

Notre Dame

How very, very sad to learn that Notre Dame is on fire. Here are some images I’ve made over the years with the thought that it is okay to remember the good things, and the hope that Notre Dame will be rebuilt to match. Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris is a 501(c)3 charity accepting donations to help to rebuild Notre Dame. This is a reminder that all things pass, so with good faith as one world let us join in the rebuilding—so we can help to make things better, not worse.

Crown of Thorns © Harold Davis

Crown of Notre Dame © Harold Davis

Spire © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Notre Dame © Harold Davis

Notre Dame © Harold Davis

Doors of Notre Dame © Harold Davis

Posted in France, Paris

Criss Cross not Applesauce

Criss-Cross © Harold Davis

Posted in Abstractions

Excited about new upcoming adventures

I’m excited about my upcoming trip to Europe. I’ll be in Germany working with my friend Julian Kopke to make more x-rays and fusions x-rays, then leading a small group of photographers in Paris, and then after Paris walking the Camino Portuguese. For this walk, I’ll be heading north on this pilgrimage trail from Tui at the Spain-Portugal border on the River Minho north to Santiago de Compostela. Like last year’s Camino, I will be photographing and hope to be blogging my adventures as I go.

Paris from Montmartre © Harold Davis

Triple Spiral Stairs (Looking Up) in Santiago © Harold Davis


Posted in Photography


Storm at Sea © Harold Davis

Soft Horizon © Harold Davis

Descent © Harold Davis

Posted in Abstractions

Wisteria Gate

The wisteria are in bloom around town. Their lush blues and purples, and lavish grape-juice odor, dominate the staid landscape of “the flats.” In the hills, the wisteria are not quite at their peak, with more blossoms to come, but still gorgeous with every ounce of their being.

I photographed the Wisteria Gate image, shown below, yesterday with my iPhone along Gilman Street near San Pablo Ave in West Berkeley, California. I processed the image on my iPhone using the Waterlogue and ImageBlender apps.

Wisteria Gate © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Photography


Quartet (click here to see it larger) is one photo duplicated three times. The duplicates have been rotated 90 degrees, and in two cases flipped along an axis as well. As you can imagine, with a 45 megapixel capture from my Nikon D850 times the four versions, the final resolution is very substantial, so it would be fun to print at room size.

This is the kind of composition I might have made as a painter, and it is fun to do it using photography and post-production as well!

Quartet © Harold Davis

Posted in Abstractions

What are these tulip photos about?

An important question when looking at a photo is, What is this photo about? In the case of an image of a single flower blossom, likely candidates depend where the image is on the documentary straight photo to would-be high-art spectrum. The photo could be intended as an illustration in a horticultural catalog, or it could be about shape, form, and gesture—with nothing to do with the literal subject matter.

Tulip Sun © Harold Davis

The photo above, Tulip Sun, is about a feeling: the bright, warm, and sunny feeling some of us get when looking at a beautiful and colorful flower. Tulip Eye, below, is a double-take narrative. What is inside the flower? Suppose it were peeking out at us?

Tulip Eye © Harold Davis

I like to understand what my photos are about, at least for me, as early as possible in the image-making process. Sometimes I am lucky enough to know this before I press the shutter release, but more often not. It’s good to know what direction the image is going early in post-production (if not sooner). Otherwise, implementing my vision is difficult, because it is hard to implement something one does not understand.

As a coda to this discussion, there’s no reason that my idea of what one of my photos is about should be your idea. It’s not necessarily that I have failed if my vision is not conveyed. As one example, some photographic imagery is intentionally conceived as a projective device, or Rorschach: the viewer reads into the image what they have brought to it. And, of course, a photo can be about more than one thing, just as it can work on several levels—encompassing, for example, formal composition as well as narrative feeling.

Posted in Flowers, Photography