Category Archives: Digital Night

Starry Night by Harold Davis in exhibition at Weston Gallery

I am very pleased and honored that a print of my Starry Night (shown below) is on exhibit at the Weston Gallery in Carmel, CA as part of Night Vision: Photographing in the Dark. Night Vision will be shown November 12, 2016 – January 8, 2017.

Starry Night © Harold Davis

Starry Night © Harold Davis

Here’s the list of photographers contributing to the Night Vision exhibition: Bob Kolbrener, Michael Kenna, Paul Kozal, Rolfe Horn, Robb Johnson, Dale Johnson, Ernst Haas, Harold Davis, Berenice Abbott, Brett Weston, André Kertész, Jerry Uelsmann, Mark Citret, Sally Mann, Chip Hooper. I am excited to be included along with a number of my top photographic heroes of all time such as Haas, Kertész, Uelsmann, and Weston.

Hotel Room with a View

I like to photograph from my hotel room, and I make a point of requesting rooms with a view. Sometimes this works. There’s nothing particularly characteristic of Milan, Italy in these views from my hotel balcony in central Milan at the NH Milano President (basically a middle of the road business hotel), but it was fun photographing car light trails with the stationary trolley at night (bottom image), and when the rain made it too wet to go outside with the camera and tripod, the impressionistic iPhone image of Milan in the rain (upper image) was easy to make without getting too cold and wet!

Rainy Night © Harold Davis

Rainy Night © Harold Davis

Some other hotel rooms with a view: Positano Morning; Window in Bourges; Room with a View.

Via Verziere, Milan © Harold Davis

Via Verziere, Milan © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone, Italy

Saint-Sulpice at Dusk

This is an image I made earlier this year outside the wonderful Saint-Sulpice in Paris as day faded to night (see this earlier story, also this one, and also this one for the inside of Saint-Sulpice). I used my 16mm Nikkor rectolinear fisheye lens, with the camera on tripod.

Saint-Sulpice at Dusk © Harold Davis

Saint-Sulpice at Dusk © Harold Davis

I am headed to Italy in the coming week, and hope to be blogging about my adventures in photography while I am there—unless I am having so much fun, and taking so many photos, that I don’t get the chance! In which possible case, TTFN.

Also posted in Paris, Photography

Carcassonne in Black & White

Carcassone Outer Fortifications © Harold Davis

Carcassone Outer Fortifications © Harold Davis

The techniques shown in this image—bracketed sequence photography, processing for extended dynamic range, layer stack monochromatic conversion, all with an added antique effect—are detailed in my new book. It is available for pre-order on Amazon and the publisher’s website. Thanks to everyone who has made The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook: Making and Processing Stunning Digital Black and White Photos the #1 New Release in Black & White Photography on Amazon and Amazon’s #1 “Hot New Release” in this category!

9781580934787

Also posted in France, Monochrome, Writing

Nocturnes Exhibition and Competition at the Southeast Center for Photography

I am the juror for Nocturnes a competition and exhibition based around night photography at the Southeast Center for Photography.

Here’s the description:  A nocturne is a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night. Enter your best photos that express the poetry of the night referentially in visual symbolism. Show us you night images, your light painting talents. Imagery should be evocative of the night and our human relationship to nocturnal darkness. Structures are okay, as is the urban landscape. It’s fine to include celestial features such as star trails or the Milky Way, but images should include terrestrial markings as well; this will be an exhibition about the human relationship, and feelings about the night.

Submissions close on June 5, 2016. Click here for the prospectus for the competition and exhibition.

Edge of Night © Harold Davis

Edge of Night © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Workshops

Carcassonne at Night

Coming back to my base in Carcassonne after a long day of exploring Cathar castles—more on this later—I took my gear out on the old bridge after dark. Photographing back at the the old city of Carcassonne, the well-lit ramparts contrast in a visually odd way with the modern buildings and pollarded trees below the fortifications.

Carcassonne at Night © Harold Davis

Carcassonne at Night © Harold Davis

Also posted in France

Cordes sur Ciel at Dawn

I set the alarm for an hour before sunrise. When it rang in the darkness well before dawn, I put on the warmest clothing I had with me and made my way into position to wait for the light of dawn to illuminate the ancient hilltop citadel of Cordes sur Ciel, France.

© Harold Davis

Cordes sur Ciel at Dawn © Harold Davis

Also posted in France

Piazza San Marco at Night

One reason to photograph at night in a tourist destination is, as I explained in Photographing the Bridge of Sighs at Night, to avoid selfie-stick-toting tour groups. Another reason is to present a different emotional aspect of the place, as in this image of the Piazza San Marco.

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

During daylight hours, and well into the evening in warm months, San Marco is of course jam-packed. Competing classical schmaltz bands strive to drive tourists into over-priced outdoor cafes. Public events are staged in the square. But at night, when it is foggy and chill, the piazza empties. Symmetrical lighting adds to the symmetry of the architecture, and it is possible to capture an entirely new view of the Piazza San Marco.

Also posted in Italy, Monochrome, Photography

Photographing the Bridge of Sighs at Night

The Ponte dei Sospiri, or Bridge of Sighs, is one of the most famous landmarks in Venice, Italy. It connects the Doge’s Palace with a prison on the opposite side of the canal. The name, coined by Lord Byron, comes from the idea that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken across to their grim cells, often to remain imprisoned for the rest of their lives.

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Today, the main problem confronting the photographer wanting an interesting image of the Bridge of Sighs is other photographers. Specifically, groups of tourists, many of them Chinese, jostling with selfie sticks on the Ponte della Paglia, with the Bridge of Sighs in the background.

During daylight hours, it is almost impossible to place a tripod in position for this classic view without having the legs knocked into by an eager tourist-with-selfie-stick. In this situation, the photographer is often solicited to shoot group selfies (is “group selfie” an oxymoron?) with someone’s phone camera.

But on a dark, damp, and foggy night there is no one around. What a perfect time to capture a somewhat different version of the famous Bridge of Sighs!

Also posted in Italy

Positano

Positano has rightly been described as a town of cliff dwellers because it seems to defy the laws of gravity, with buildings connected via stairway after staircase. There are no flat roads. In the 1950s author John Steinbeck, who is more generally associated with Monterey, Salinas, East of Eden, and The Grapes of Wrath, wrote a travel article for Harpers Bazaar magazine that included this memorable line: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”

Positano © Harold Davis

Positano © Harold Davis

We are here on the cusp of autumn. Most of the hotels and restaurants are already closed for the season. But the warm and sunny Sunday weather has brought crowds from Sorrento and Naples, and for me a swim on the beach along side of kids kicking balls, and couples enjoying a last snuggle in the sun before winter sets in.

As Steinbeck wrote, this place is like a waking dream, and I expect to cherish my time in Positano through the days of winter that lie ahead.

About the church and photo: Made from the balcony of my room just after sunset, this image shows the church of Santa Maria of Assunta from behind. The church features a black icon of Mary from the 1200s, supposedly stolen from Byzantium by pirates. A terrible storm came up, and the pirates heard the icon moaning and saying “Put me down, put me down”—“Posa, posa!”

The pirates landed the icon and settled in Positano, which took its name from the words of the statue. E.g., “Posa” became “Positano.” Or so they say.

Made with my Nikon D810, 28mm, 30 seconds at f/9 and ISO 200, tripod mounted, and minimally processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop.

Also posted in Italy

San Francisco Dreams in Black and White

San Francisco dreams in black and white. Please come visit my new virtual gallery of San Francisco in Black and White!

Noir City Dreams  © Harold Davis

Noir City Dreams © Harold Davis

What goes on behind the shades in the lit window of an anonymous apartment in the big city? Meanwhile, the moon rises over the proverbial skyline.

San Francisco Moonrise © Harold Davis

San Francisco Moonrise © Harold Davis

And the sun sets on a day of low tides behind the Golden Gate…

Sunset at Minus Tide © Harold Davis

Sunset at Minus Tide © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, San Francisco Area

An amusement park for adults

Downtown Porto, Portugal’s second city, has aspects of an amusement park for adults, without being cloying. There’s a great river with boats of every kind, an old town with ancient structures—some a little scruffy, but nothing too disreputable—funiculars, cog railway elevators, and a number of bridges, including a great 19th century cast-iron structure coming from the incomparable Gustav Eiffel’s studio. Not to mention great food, and plenty of port wine to taste.

Ponte Luis I  © Harold Davis

Ponte Luis I © Harold Davis

On the Eiffel bridge—Ponte Luis I—cars are relegated to the bottom. The upper level is a vertigo-inducing walkway for pedestrians, and a platform for the light rail system.

Porto via IPhone © Harold Davis

Porto via IPhone © Harold Davis

It’s hard to imagine anyone not enjoying walking around the waterfront area of this city at night. As the wind and weather changes, so do the reflections in the Duoro River—but each time and in every way the view is charming.

Ponte Luis I  © Harold Davis

Ponte Luis I © Harold Davis

Interested in seeing the world with me, and making unusual photos in night time as well as during the daytime? Check out my upcoming autumn photography trip to the Sea-Girt Villages of Italy.

Related story: Travels with Samantha.

Also posted in iPhone, Monochrome, Photography, Portugal

A room with a view

When I travel I always try to select hotels that are likely to have interesting views, and to request a room with a view if possible. Of course, my idea of an interesting view doesn’t always coincide with the normal tourist vista! I do look around carefully to see what I might like to photograph when I get to my new “home away from home.” The photo below was taken out of the ninth floor window of my hotel room in Barcelona, Spain at the Avenida Palace Hotel facing south towards Montjuic. I like the collage of heating ducts as much as the details that show that the scene in is in Barcelona.

View of a Barcelona Roof © Harold Davis

View of a Barcelona Roof © Harold Davis

Some other examples of my passion for photographing from (or of) hotel room windows include this view out a back window of the pre-renovation Hotel Lutece in Paris showing (once again) complicated duct work, this view of my window on the cathedral in Bourg, France, as much about the lighting as about the incredible church (the related iPhone capture shows a bit more of the room itself), this view down on the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona from the Hotel Espanya showing an unusual angle on the medieval section of town, and the view from my room over the Bay of Tangiers at night in Morocco shown below.

Bay of Tangiers at Night © Harold Davis

Bay of Tangiers at Night © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Travels with Samantha

I’m normally a map, or a map-and-compass, kind of guy. But when I rented my car in Portugal I also rented a navigation system. Getting lost in obscure foreign parts where I didn’t speak the language was definitely getting old.

The man who set up the navigation system for me at Europacar wanted to know whether I wanted British or American English, and also whether I wanted the Jack or Samantha voice. I picked Samantha.

In some respects, Sam is a navigational prodigy, getting me places on a wing and a prayer that I would never have accomplished on my own. For example, the route Sam took me on to the door of my hotel in the historic district of Porto involved several one-way alleys, numerous roundabouts, the lower deck of the famous bridge in Porto, and—strangely—a vacant lot.

Porto at Night © Harold Davis

Porto at Night © Harold Davis

When she’s good, Sam is very, very good—but the price for her help is that she wants control. Occasionally she also gets things wrong, directing me up roads closed to traffic, or alleys that are only intended for foot traffic. In these cases, she gets repetitive, and there is clearly a shrillness to the directions, as if she’s asking, “Why can’t you even follow simple instructions?”

She’s also not very sympathetic to the stops I make for photography. She calculates an arrival time for each destination. Apparently, my photographic stops throw this off. “Recalculating,” she announces, and you can almost see the virtual eyeball rolling. “You are now fifteen minutes later than the original time-to-destination.” It certainly sounds like she gets more annoyed the more photographic stops I make.

Once today I reached a new highway that wasn’t in Sam’s database. Her display showed me and the car rolling across open fields, and her directions to correct my course were increasingly implausible, until at last the real world and her maps coincided again, and there was peace in the relationship once more.

Like any neurotic relationship there are communication problems, and as I mentioned, a battle for control. But I’ve grown accustomed to the strident, dulcet tones of my Samantha, telling me she is recalibrating, and to go right in 100 meters on a street whose name in Portuguese she has totally mangled—or often, turn in 250 meters on “Road” with no other name. It’s relaxing knowing I can blunder anyplace in this country, more or less, and Sam will get me to where I need to go no matter how lost I am.

Also posted in Photography, Portugal

New York is a stage

I’m passing through New York with an appearance at PhotoPlus Expo on behalf of my sponsor Carl Zeiss, for whom I am a Camera Lens Ambassador. PhotoPlus is at the Javits Center. I am enroute to Barcelona, Spain, where I am headed tomorrow. My timing in New York overlaps with Halloween, and it seems that all the world’s indeed a stage!

Bethesda Fountain © Harold Davis

Bethesda Fountain © Harold Davis

So yesterday to get some air after being at the convention center all day I walked up to Central Park, and shot this image of the plaze behind Bethesda Fountain by moonlight. It does indeed look like a stage, but a deserted one at night!

Also posted in New York