Category Archives: Germany

The Curve at the End of the Country Lane

I photographed Country Lane (shown below) adjacent to a castle that is fairly close by. The overall lighting, mood, and feeling of the image reminds me of Road Less Traveled (shown at the bottom, and blogged here).

Country Lane © Harold Davis

While the feeling may be similar, there is a difference in the meta-story this pair of images convey. With Road Less Traveled, a choice is presented, presumably in the life of the viewer, or maybe—more autobiographically—in my life. The exhortation to myself was to choose a path less taken, and embark on the life of an artist, to pursue beauty, rather than to follow the easier direction of a more conventional career. The appeal to the viewer is to consider carefully what is really important, and to make choices that are commensurate with their best possible life.

In contrast, Country Lane presents no choices. It’s as if everything is preordained. The path has already been chosen. But if you squint hard, you can see there is a curve at the end of the road, where country lane meets the horizon and vanishing point, with a slight emphasis of brightness. 

What lies ahead, around the curve? That’s hard to say, and may be different for each of us. But my sense of the image is optimistic, as if it is saying that the best is yet to come.

Road Less Traveled by Harold Davis

Road Less Traveled © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Himbachel Viaduct

Today I photographed a marvelous train viaduct, built in the 1800s using the same engineering principles that the Romans used. The Himbachel Viaduct is still in use by trains today. Photographically, a structure this huge and out of scale with the landscape offers a real challenge in composition—figuring out how to be harmonious while still conveying the immensity of the site.

Himbachel Viaduct (Monochrome) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Just Call Me Angel

Baden-Baden is a prosperous spa town at the edge of the Black Forest and near Germany’s border with France. A famous place to try to recuperate from tuberculosis in the nineteenth century, Dostoevsky lost his shirt at the casino in Baden-Baden. More recently, Baden-Baden has once again been favored by rich Russians.

Dark Angel from Baden-Baden © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

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.

Also posted in iPhone, Photography

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

Also posted in Photography

Postcards from Berlin

When I got the call that Phyllis had been admitted to the hospital with a mysterious high fever, I knew I had to cut my visit to Berlin and eastern Europe short and come home. My kids didn’t qualify as Boxcar kids, they were Uber kids, journeying via Uber to the supermarket to pick up pasta to cook.

Phyllis is home now and doing so much better (and thanks everyone for the good wishes), the kids were well supported by their cousin and grandparents but were of course very glad to see me. Things are going back to normal.

Anyhow, I had less time in Berlin that I had planned or wanted. Julian (we had been doing x-ray photography together in Heidelberg) was in Berlin with me, and we had a very early morning walk around Berlin’s Tiergarten. The three images in this story are from that walk. Then I took a cab to the airport, flew from Berlin to Munich, and Munich to San Francisco, and hugged the worried kids on the very same day!

Approaching the Brandenburg Gate © Harold Davis

With the sun coming up from generally behind the Brandenburg Gate, we stopped on a traffic island facing east (photo above). My thought was to process the image to look a little vintage, almost as if it were a relic of the cold war, when the Brandenburg Tor was a symbolic demarcation between east and west Berlin (actually, it was located on the east side of the Berlin Wall).

Berlin Canal © Harold Davis

To make this apparently bucolic image of a residential canal framed by the oval of a train bridge (above), we stepped into a small clearing inhabited by sleeping homeless people, who were just starting to rise with the dawn of the new day.

Berlin Reflection © Harold Davis

Across from the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the lines of architecture are reflected in a city that never seems to sleep, and with much new construction and au courant architecture is an epitome of modernity (photo above).

Schloss Shadow

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go—so its the perfect time to work on some back images on my production machine. This castle shadow is from my recent stay in Heidelberg, Germany, photographed on a street as I wandered around after I gave my workshop.

Schloss Shadow © Harold Davis

Schloss Shadow © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

Bend in the Neckar River

On a great bend in the Neckar River, about 15 kilometers up-river from Heidelberg, Germany lies the town of Neckarsteinach. Four dramatic castles sit atop the crags overlooking the Neckar. Julian, one of my workshop participants, brought me here the day I was flying home, and together we explored the area.

Bend in the Neckar River © Harold Davis

Bend in the Neckar River © Harold Davis

From the top tower in the castle I shot a series of seven hand-held bracketed HDR exposures. Each exposure sequence had eight images. I used Photoshop to merge the seven sequences into a single panorama, which (doing the math) consists of 56 individual images! Since each capture was using a 36MP sensor, quite a bit of information has gone into this pano, and I am looking forward to printing it large.

Bend in the Neckar River in Black and White © Harold Davis

Bend in the Neckar River in Black and White © Harold Davis

Related story: Check out the panorama I photographed overlooking a bend in the Dordogne River in southwest France.

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

Along the old Rhine River

After my workshop was over, Volker Haxsen (who assisted me at the workshop, and is quite a gifted person in his own right) took me exploring in the Rhine Valley. Volker told me that the Rhine has been navigated for thousands of years, since Roman times, and the channels have been straightened and broadened. The river used the meander much more with wetlands. These banks of the old Rhine have been preserved as park lands in places, and it is here we went with our cameras!

Path beside the Rhine © Harold Davis

Path beside the Rhine © Harold Davis

Old Rhine River © Harold Davis

Old Rhine River © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone

Engine at Primo’s Garage

This is a photo of an engine-in-progress at Primo’s Garage, photographed during my recent Black and White Masterclass in Heidelberg, Germany, and used as in-class post-processing example.

Engine at Primo's Garage © Harold Davis

Engine at Primo’s Garage © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Oh, Heidelberg!

The other evening I strolled along Heidelberg’s Philosopher’s Walk with my camera and tripod. I stopped to make several photographs, including this exposure blend looking down on the Alte Brucke. Today I used the image in my Black & White Masterclass to demonstrate a fairly complete high dynamic range black and white (“monochromatic HDR”) workflow. I think the class was great at following along as this workflow involves a non-trivial effort and is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Oh, Heidelberg! © Harold Davis

Oh, Heidelberg! © Harold Davis

Exposure information: 135mm, seven combined exposures (at shutter speeds between 1/160 of a second and 0.5 of a second), each exposure at f/9 and ISO 64, tripod mounted; exposures combined and processed using Nik HDR Pro, Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop, Nik Color Efex, Nik Silver Efex, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, and Perfect B&W.

Also posted in Monochrome, Workshops

Great Hall Heidelberg University

The Great Hall is Heidelberg University’s magnificent historic auditorium, located on the first floor of the old University building in the old part of Heidelberg. It’s in the same building that houses the Heidelberg Student Jail.

Great Hall Heidelberg University  © Harold Davis

Great Hall Heidelberg University © Harold Davis

When my local friend took me to see the old University building, the attendant told us that the Great Hall was closed to the public as they were preparing for an event “unless one of you is press.” I reached for my wallet, and started to pull out my Nikon Professional Services (NPS) card—not exactly press, but good enough I guess to get us into the Great Hall!

Also posted in Photography


Hohenzollern Castle, located in Swabia about 80 kilometers south of Stuttgart, Germany was home to the family that eventually spawned the emperors of Germany. Destroyed and rebuilt a number of times since its construction in the 11th century, the current version dates to the mid-19th century, where it was a conscious architectural folly and anachronism, modeled in English Gothic revival style, and after the chateaus of the Loire.

Hohenzollern © Harold Davis

Hohenzollern © Harold Davis

It had been raining all week. On a gray day, I parked in the parking lot below the castle, and paid my 5 Euros fee. I ignored the shuttle bus, and schlepped my camera and tripod up to the entrance to the castle, maybe a twenty minute walk. It was sprinkling lightly, and as I entered the lower levels I looked up at the swirling mist with a few beams of sunlight coming through, and proceeded to capture a number of views with monochromatic HDR in mind.

Also posted in Monochrome

Afternoon of the Faun

Faun © Harold Davis

Faun © Harold Davis

Captured in the castle garden at Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany.

Also posted in iPhone

Speyer Cathedral Dome

I spent my last night in Germany at a hotel near Frankfurt airport in a somewhat depressing industrial neighborhood. A few blocks from the hotel I found a nice place for dinner, and ate outside at the communal tables. While I waiting for my food I worked on this photo of the Speyer Cathedral Dome.

Speyer Dome © Harold Davis

Speyer Dome © Harold Davis

The interior space in the Cathedral in the imperial city of Speyer, Germany is built to a huge scale. Although mostly reconstructed rather than original, the sheer magnitude of interior volumes is worth experiencing, and this city along the Rhine River is steeped in history.

Also posted in iPhone