Monthly Archives: September 2021

Bus Window Impressionism

Bus Window 5 © Harold Davis

Riding in a bus is not always exalted or exalting, but it does leave one time for conversation and for looking out the window. In my case, on my recent trip to Iceland, it also left me time for ICM (In Camera Motion) impressionistic landscape photography. 

I used the Slow Shutter Cam app on my iPhone, with a shutter speed duration of roughly two seconds. With this app, you start the exposure by pressing a button, and can stop the shutter as the image comes into being on the LCD by pressing the button again. Keeping the shutter open too long risks turning the composition into formless mud; not having a long-enough duration means having a too literal, and not very interesting, landscape.

As with any ICM image, there are many more misses than hits!

Using ICM (In-Camera Motion) and a long-duration shutter speed, I created this collection of impressionistic landscapes through a moving bus window while visiting Iceland.

Besides the two images in this story in the Bus Window Impressionism story; also, check out the three images in The Windows on the Beast.

Bus Window 4 © Harold Davis

Posted in Iceland, Landscape, Photography

Pre-order Composition & Photography by Harold Davis

My new, upcoming book Composition & Photography: Creating Structure Using Forms and Patterns is now available for pre-order from Amazon. I am very excited about this title, which will be published by RockyNook, and has a publication date of March 29, 2022. There’s a fuller description of our book below the cover image, but the key ideas behind Composition & Photography are to work with composition as a process (not a fixed endpoint), and to apply the concepts of two-dimensional design to the photographic image.

Please consider pre-ordering your copy today! Thanks.

Own composition, use composition, and make composition your own in your photographs!

Of all the magical elixirs that make up a successful photograph, composition is perhaps the most fundamental, and at the same time the most elusive. What makes a composition “good”? It’s hard to define exactly, but we instinctively recognize good composition when we see it. There is an undeniable emotional response when a composition resonates with and complements the subject matter of an image.

But traditional attempts to define “good composition” and to pass on rules for good compositional construction are often doomed to failure. The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules. Rules eliminate experimentation and spontaneity, which are crucial for creating compelling, dynamic, and exciting compositions. The best compositions contain an element of the unexpected. “Expect the unexpected!” is perhaps the only viable “rule” of composition. To create exciting compositions, you must have a willingness to embrace serendipity and change as part of your artistic practice. After all, composition is a process, not a result.

In Composition & Photography, photographer and bestselling author Harold Davis teaches you how to perceive patterns and abstractions and incorporate them into your image-making process. If one of the goals of photography is to show viewers things that are new, or things they haven’t seen before, or things they have seen many times but need to see anew, then it’s with the thoughtful and considered use of composition that you do that.

In this book, you’ll learn how to reduce your subject matter to the fundamentals, and to show familiar subjects in unfamiliar, novel ways. Harold covers topics and themes such as:

  • Lines and circles
  • Rectangles
  • Combinations and patterns
  • Repetition
  • Symmetry and asymmetry
  • Abstraction
  • Entering and exiting
  • Vanishing points and perspective
  • Emphasis
  • Designing within a frame
  • Creating order from chaos

Composition & Photography will help you find the tools and visual vocabulary to creatively design your photographs. Regardless of the genre and kind of photography you practice, you’ll learn to create powerful compositions that incorporate structure and form into your work in ways that best support your images. Along the way, Harold shows and discusses his own work relating to each compositional element or theme he’s exploring. And featured throughout the book are exercises about flexibility and process, designed to spur your creativity and help you begin an internal creative discussion.

“My goal as a photography teacher and writer about photography is to inspire and to help you become the best and most creative photographer and image-maker that you can be.”
―Harold Davis

“Harold Davis is a force of nature―a man of astonishing eclectic skills and accomplishments.”
―Rangefinder Magazine

Please consider pre-ordering Composition & Photography today! Thank you very much.

Posted in Patterns, Photography, Writing

Does size really matter?

Does size really matter? Sometimes smaller is better, as I think is the case with these two light box compositions. Both are based around a lattice of small viola blossoms, colorful translucent flowers in the Violaceae family.

Both compositions are small in their entirety, taking up only a fractional portion of the area (maybe 1/12) of my A1 (26″ X 36″) light box. Makes for easier photography because I don’t have to get as high up, with a moderate telephoto lens such as the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 used in these two images.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing © Harold Davis

Tapestry of Small Flowers © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

ICM is for iPhones too!

ICM—in camera motion—is a technique used to add interpretive aesthetics to an image by moving the camera during exposure while the shutter is open. Generally, the effect created is impressionistic. The shutter speed duration must be long enough for the motion to register in the capture, typically 1/3 of a second or longer.

ICM effects can be accomplished with the camera on a tripod or—more often—handheld. The direction and speed of motion in relation to the subject matter is crucial. ICM is hit-or-miss: you can expect many essays for each good result.

The Tall Trees image below is an ICM image made on my iPhone with a shutter duration of about one second via the Slow Shutter Cam app. Motion was steadily from top to bottom, elongating this already impressive aisle of trees.

ICM is for iPhones too!

Tall Trees © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Photography

Live Long and Prosper

This photograph shows the Carpellary receptacle of a Lotus flower, Nelumbo nucifera. The Lotus is a sacred flower in both Hinduism and Buddhism. I photographed this Lotus in a small lily pond at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Lotus Flower © Harold Davis

The round, flat-topped green structure in the center of the flower is called the Carpellary receptacle. The tiny red bumps on the surface of the Carpellary receptacle are female stigmas that each contain an ovule.

These ovules will be fertilized by the male anthers, shown in my photo surrounding the Carpellary receptacle, and after fertilization the ovules will turn into seeds. As the process progresses, the Carpellary platform will start to tilt, and the seeds will fall into the water surrounding the Lotus.

Many of the seeds will be eaten for food—the Lotus is an important food crop in China, often planted alongside rice, and all parts of the plant are edible—but those seeds that survive will eventually become new plants.

An astounding thing about the Lotus is how long the seeds can survive and still be viable, in some documented cases over 1,000 years. That’s why the Lotus has become a symbol of longevity.

Posted in Flowers, Photography