Monthly Archives: May 2019

Tokyo here we come

I’m organizing a photography week in Tokyo for next year. As part of my research and planning for this destination photo workshop I pulled some photos from my files that I haven’t posted before.

Masks on a Tokyo Street © Harold Davis

Masks on a Tokyo Street © Harold Davis

Temple Grounds, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Temple Grounds, Tokyo © Harold Davis

Tokyo Harbor © Harold Davis

Tokyo Harbor © Harold Davis

Tokyo Street © Harold Davis

Tokyo Street © Harold Davis

Posted in Japan, Photography

Garden Photography Workshop – Capturing the Great Gardens of Maine

Flowers at Giverny © Harold Davis

Flowers at Giverny © Harold Davis

I’ll be teaching a week long course in garden photography at Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine again this year. The dates are August 11-17, 2019. Click here for a full workshop description, and for registration.

I’m very excited to add some new, private gardens with exclusive access to this curriculum. Besides field photography of gardens, the workshop will cover a variety of studio and post-production techniques related to flower photography (see the detailed description here).

Please consider joining me for a glorious week of Maine, photographing gardens, and flowers!

Giverny © Harold Davis

The agenda of this workshop includes plentiful field sessions in a variety of kinds of gardens accessible to Maine Media Workshops & College in Rockport on the mid-coast of Maine. August is a great time of year for flowers in bloom along the Maine coast! Classroom sessions will focus on specific areas of technique, and also the theory and practice of garden design in the context of photography, as well as working with individual participants to develop a cohesive and personal body of work. Click here for a full workshop description, and for registration.

Salutation to the Sun © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Redone in an edit for a client

I reprocessed these two images as part of an edit for a longstanding client of mine. The upper image in panorama format is of a sunrise in the Carpathian Mountains (click here to see the image larger). The lower image is a black and white rendition of the Pont Neuf in Toulouse, France (which, of course, isn’t really very “new” at all).

Distant Sunrise Pano © Harold Davis

Pont Neuf, Toulouse

Pont Neuf, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Creative Black and White 2nd Edition eBook Now Available

We’re very excited about the second edition of Creative Black & White.  The eBook is now available for purchase and download (the actual “book book” will follow in a month or two). Creative Black & White has been revised, substantially expanded, and brought up to date. You can buy the eBook now from Amazon or directly from the publisher. I’ve added entire sections, substantially enlarged the book, and most of the photos are new. Every photo includes information about how it was made, both from a technical perspective, and also the story about my thinking behind the image.

As I note in the Preface to this Second Edition, “Of course, I was flattered to be asked to write this revised and expanded second edition of Creative Black & White. One of the goals of this new edition is to bring the tools and techniques explained in this book up to date. This is particularly important in the realm of Lightroom and Photoshop software, and with the plug-ins that are a necessary extension of the Adobe ecosystem.

“Beyond keeping current, I want to help you become a better and more creative photographer, whatever your interest level or toolset may be.”

It’s been great fun updating this book, making a good book even better, refreshing the images, and bringing the software explanations up to date. I hope my new book proves to be inspiring and useful to you!

Click here to buy the eBook now from Amazon and click here to buy it directly from the publisher.

Posted in Writing

Home, Peonies, and Irises

I’ve been traveling a month and a day—with x-ray photography, a lovely group in Paris (the after-hours session in Monet’s garden at Giverny was probably my favorite part), and a trek on the Camino Portuguese. How great to come home to family, and a house filled with flowers for me to photograph!

Sunset at Sea © Harold Davis

Somehow my adventures of the past month feel like a dream, but also it feels like a dream to be here now. Which is a dream, and which is real life?

Peonies and Irises on White © Harold Davis

Peonies and Irises on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

The Scallop Shell Symbol on the Camino

If you’ve walked the Camino de Santiago, you’ll have followed a route marked with scallop shell symbols. Along with many other pilgrims, I have a scallop shell hanging from my pack to let others know I am walking a Camino. Walking along, I keep my eye out for the scallop shell symbol, and note cafes, albergues, and other services that use the scallop shell as a sign that these places are hospitable and friendly to itinerant pilgrims.

But when you think about it, the scallop shell seems like an odd symbol to represent the path of the Camino, the most traveled pilgrimage route in all of christendom. The scallop shell seems distinctly peculiar as a christian or Catholic symbol when we have come to expect a crucifix, or perhaps the Madonna.

Scallop Shell Symbol on the Side of the Cathedral of Santiago © Harold Davis

So where did the scallop shell symbol come from? If you look at the history of the Catholic church, it is very common for pagan beliefs and symbolism to be absorbed and incorporated into doctrines and practices. The adoption of the scallop shell symbol is a prime example.

Back in the times of the Greeks and Romans, the scallop shell was a symbol of the Goddess Aphrodite, Venus to the Romans (think of the famous Birth of Venus painting by Botticelli). In the Roman era, an important ritual began at the Temple of Venus near the forum in Rome, and continued in some cases with a spiritual journey to the Atlantic coast of Galicia. This ritual journey was indicated and marked with the scallop shell symbol.

This journey encompassed fertility rituals invoking Venus along the way, and was also sacred to the two-faced God, Janus. Janus was the God of beginnings, transitions, transformations, doors, and endings: all highly relevant to pilgrimages and pilgrims.

A gift of walking a Camino is the encounters and conversations with folks from all walks of life and many parts of the world who are looking out for each other. It is astounding to realize as one walks the Camino that one is part of a tradition the predates Christianity, and speaks to the common humanity and ability of all of us to get along together.

Scallop Shell Manhole © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela at Sunrise

For well over a millennia, the Cathedral of Saint James has been the goal of a tireless—and tired and footsore—stream of pilgrims toiling along the various Caminos that lead to Santiago de Compostela. The Cathedral is shown here in the distance by the first light of dawn. It is “brought closer” since I used a 300mm telephoto focal length lens.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela at Sunrise © Harold Davis

Posted in Spain

Garden along the Camino

Someone had built this garden beside the trail in the nook beside an old stone wall, with its rose trellis across a small spring. Now, half wild, the garden was reclaiming its heritage—and like the ancient land of the Camino was part way reverted to its natural state.

Garden along the Camino © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Spain

Blue Arrow and Yellow Arrow

The algorithm for following one of the pilgrimage trails to Santiago de Compostela is really pretty simple: follow the yellow arrows, or the well-known Camino clamshell trail markers. If you go 100 meters without seeing a yellow arrow or a clamshell, maybe you made a wrong turn. Go back to the last place you saw a marker or arrow, and look around carefully. It can be a little hard to see the symbols when the trail goes through a busy city, but basically if you stick to this process you can’t go wrong.

Blue and Yellow Arrow © Harold Davis

The Camino Portuguese heads north from Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. In contrast, the pilgrimage to Our Lady of Fatima heads south to Fatima, which is about 100 KM north of Lisbon in Portugal. So the two pilgrimages go in opposite directions. The Camino Portuguese is marked, as I’ve noted, with yellow arrows. The Fatima pilgrimage is marked with blue arrows. It’s not unusual depending on the time of year to see pilgrims along the routes going in both directions, one group following the yellow arrows, and the other following the blue arrows, each set of pilgrims walking in the exact opposite direction of the other pilgrimage.

Posted in Photography

Ponte Sampaio

Built on a Roman foundation, the Ponte Sampaio is the site of a decisive battle to liberate Galicia from Napoleon’s French army under Marshal Ney in 1809. For more on the complex history of those times, check out the Wikipedia article that provides an overview of the Peninsular War

Ponte Sampaio © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Did the Serpent Get a ‘Bum Rap’?

I think the serpent may have gotten a bum rap. At the very least, there is some indignity to an honest snake for being depicted as a kind of lizard with front legs, and knotted into a pretzel shape. Where is Eve in all this, and why would she listen to this critter?

Did the serpent get a ‘bad rap’? © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome, Spain

Seen Along the Way of Saint James

Here are a few random sightings captured with my iPhone camera on the Way of Saint James, specifically the Camino Portuguese, on my walk through southern Galicia towards Santiago.

Pilgrim Church © Harold Davis

Above, the interior dome and chandelier of the Pilgrim Church—Capela da Virxe Peregrina—in Pontevedra. It was fun climbing to the top of the dome, which I did after making this photo and getting my Pilgrim book stamped.

Below, the alternate Camino passes through a tunnel under train tracks beside a small river. If the Way seems narrow in the photo, indeed it was!

Tunnel on the Camino © Harold Davis

Finally, walking through the gritty outskirts of Arcade, a witch is seen rising before the moon on her broomstick. The circular moon is of course echoed in the heating unit that appears above the witch.

Witch © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Spain

Last Gas

I found this signage advertising the “latest” bar on the Camino Portuguese shortly before the Spanish border where the great pilgrimage trail crosses the River Minho to Tui, Spain. By “latest” I’m pretty sure that they meant “last”—so this is one of those signs like “last gas in Nevada.” Does one really care? Are the bars in Spain so different from those in Portugal? Experience tells me: not so much.

Last Gas © Harold Davis

Posted in Bemusements, Photography

Roman Bridges of Galicia

There are literally hundreds of Roman bridges in Galicia, many used by or adjacent to the Camino Portuguese.

Some of these are more recent constructions on the Roman-engineered foundations, but with other the literal stones of the bridges date back millennia. The Oronelle Bridge, shown below, was built by the Romans, and is still quite usable,

It’s amazing to see the grooves in the stones worn by cart wheels and foot tread over the vast span of years!

Oronelle Bridge © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Spain

Inside Tui Cathedral and I Have a Bilbo Baggins Moment

Tui Cathedral is nominally the starting point for my Camino. This is where my pilgrimage begins. The distances are calculated from the doors of the Cathedral.

Inside, the Cathedral is a heady and eclectic blend of Gothic, Romanesque, and Baroque styles. In the image, the double organs across each side of the nave is something I’ve never seen anywhere else. In addition, the Cathedral was a frontier fortress with battlements, terraces, and a fortified cloisters, on active alert across the River Minho facing the “enemy” fortress  on the other side for centuries.

Inside Tui Cathedral © Harold Davis

This morning I had my “Bilbo Baggins” moment. A somewhat portly, middle-aged gent, I checked out of the hotel, leaving my key at the front desk, slipped on my pack and headed across the meadow to the trail. Oh, the moment was slightly spoiled when I had to adjust the lacing on my boots before getting started (hobbits don’t wear shoes of course).

The sky was gray with storm-wracked clouds and the forecast was for wet weather. Instead of worrying about a pocket handkerchief as Bilbo famously did, I wondered whether my the rain cover for my pack was handy.

Posted in Spain