Category Archives: Abstractions

Food ink blot

I made this image using milk, water, olive oil, vinegar, and food colors, and then photographed the result.

Food Ink Blot 1 © Harold Davis

Food Ink Blot 1 © Harold Davis

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

Also posted in Flowers

Criss Cross not Applesauce

Criss-Cross © Harold Davis

Earthlight

Storm at Sea © Harold Davis

Soft Horizon © Harold Davis

Descent © Harold Davis

Quartet

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

Blue on Red

Blue on Red © Harold Davis

Related image: Homage to Rothko.

Homage to Rothko

Homage to Rothko © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Curves Ahead

Starting with sunlight coming through vessels with color, I pared down my abstractions. But lately we have been under a river of rain. Sunlight is scarce. But it doesn’t take much to create an image. Just a camera, really. Simplicity is best. There are curves ahead.

Curve #1 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Approaching Indigo

Approaching Indigo © Harold Davis

The early use of “indigo” referred to indigo dye made from Indigofera tinctoria and related species, and not specifically to a color. In the 1660s, Isaac Newton bought a pair of prisms at a fair near Cambridge, England. Around this time, the East India Company had begun importing indigo dye, replacing native woad as the primary source of blue dye. By the way, the actual color produced using indigo dye is probably somewhat different from the color referred to as “indigo” by optical scientists.

In an important experiment in the history of optics, Newton shone a narrow beam of sunlight through one of his prisms to produce a rainbow-like band of colors on the wall. This optical band had a spectrum of colors, and Newton named seven as primary colors: “Red, yellow, Green, Blew, & a violet purple; together with Orang, Indico, & an indefinite varietie of intermediate gradations.”

Interestingly, Newton linked the seven prismatic colors to the seven notes of a western major scale, with orange and indigo as semitones. What happens if you play colors like a musical scale?

In modern usage, indigo is a deep and rich color close to the primary color Blue in the RGB color space, a color somewhere between blue and violet. Many people have difficulty distinguishing indigo from its neighbors. According to sci-fi writer and science pundit Isaac Asimov, “It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.”

Asimov was wrong, but the color indigo needs to be approached with care. If you confront indigo directly, you may not see it, but in fact indigo takes its rightful and royal place on the visual spectrum when seen somewhere between blue and violet,

To construct this image, I used vases filled with colored water. To generate the colors, I used food dyes representing the primary colors, and passed bright sunlight from a West-facing window beamed through the colored water in combination—thus echoing Isaac Newton’s original, famous experiment with prisms and sunlight.

Also posted in Photography

Playing with Light

For the past few days of the break between Christmas and New Years, I have been playing with light. Of course, the word photography is derived from “writing with light”—and you cannot capture the physicality of an object, only the light reflected or emitted by the object. So, from the very beginning, light and photography are intimately related. But this series more literally captures—and plays with—light than most photography. Let me explain.

In the depth of winter, the winter sun traces an arc across a large, westward-facing window towards the front of our house. The arc is low in the horizon, and short, from about 10AM to about 3PM. The quality of the sunlight is fierce: bright and strong, but at the same time with a kind of innate gentleness. It is light as light should be light.

With a white-surfaced table, I use the sunlight to “paint” images by projecting the light through vessels with colored water of various kinds and shapes (some of these carafes are clearly shown in Transmutation, the third image below), and carefully arranging the light to create my compositions. This is work done in camera, with only very minor corrections and adjustments in post-production.

World of Wonders © Harold Davis

They Walk Among Us © Harold Davis

Transmutation © Harold Davis

Related stories: Cosmic MisunderstandingThe Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions; Easy Travel to Other Planets; Life is Strange. Check out my new online Gallery of Abstracts.

Also posted in Photography

Life Is Strange—Further Abstractions and some Abstract Thoughts

Life is strange. We take inspiration, and the other self-actualization needs and desires that are high up the Maslow hierarchy, where we can find them. From within the prison of the ego, the globe of the world matters little—belonging and cathexis matter, even if only for a single night. Fire and ice, kindness and depravity, battle for the crystal palace of my soul.

Abstraction 12 – Life is strange © Harold Davis

Abstract 11 – Dome of the World © Harold Davis

Abstract 10 – Be Mine Tonight © Harold Davis

Abstract 9 – Fire and Ice © Harold Davis

Abstract 8 – Crystal Palace © Harold Davis

Related stories: The Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions; Easy Travel to Other Planets.

Also posted in Photography

Easy Travel to Other Planets

Related stories: The Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions!

First Contact © Harold Davis

Red Planet © Harold Davis

Blue Planet © Harold Davis

Ice Planet © Harold Davis

Twin Planets © Harold Davis

Event Horizon © Harold Davis

Extinction Burst © Harold Davis

Silence of the Deep © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

More abstractions!

Related stories: The Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery.

Abstract 4 © Harold Davis

Abstract 5 © Harold Davis

Abstract 6 © Harold Davis

Abstract 7 © Harold Davis

The Making of the Abstractions

Abstract 3 © Harold Davis

This image and the two other abstracts shown in a previous story were constructed by allowing strong sunlight to pass through bottles filled with fluid (dark brown maple syrup and red wine). In the foreground I placed glassware (a wine cup stem in this image, flower vases in the previous two). A water glass made of blue glass added some reflected color to the images.

I photographing the setup extremely close with a very low depth-of-field, hand holding a Lensbaby Sweet 85 wide open (at f/1.8) with an extension tube, and using short duration shutter speeds (e.g., 1/2000 of a second). The result was extremely shallow focus and a painterly effect for everything out of focus, and clearly the precise point of focus was a crucial issue. I do think this would have been hard to pull off without an optical viewfinder.

Thanks to everyone who hypothesized in comments on my blog and on my IG feed!

Also posted in Photography

Time Machine

I asked one of the participants in this year’s Malta workshop what he wanted to get out of the workshop, and after a thoughtful response he turned it around on me, and asked what I wanted to get. I mentally sat on this question a while, and then this morning realized that I wanted to make some interpretive images of the Maltese architecture. Last year, when I was here at the invitation of the Malta Photographic Society, I did fairly literal imagery of Valletta—and now it was time to make some images that used (and implied) the mood and history, past, present and future. So I went out with my camera and tripod to capture some off-beat Valletta moodiness.

Time Machine © Harold Davis

Both these images are single, in-camera long exposures, with both focus and focal-length (zoom) manipulated during exposure. The camera was, of course, on a tripod. Exposure duration was twenty seconds. To accomplish this during daylight hours, I used a #4 neutral density filter.

Deconstructing Valletta © Harold Davis

Also posted in Malta, Photography