Category Archives: Italy

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 Digital Night, iPhone

Morning Blue

The special characteristics of light at sunset—first the “golden hour,” followed by the “blue hour”—are well known to all serious landscape photographers. Indeed, the quality of the light and the emotional resonance of the views of this good earth as sunset commences, and for a while post-sunset, is clear to all romantic observers of every persuasion.

Morning Blue © Harold Davis

Morning Blue © Harold Davis

What is less well-known is that sunrise duplicates the same wonderful sequence, but in reverse. So shortly after dawn there is a blue period, followed by a time of golden lighting, and then daytime commences. For astronomical reasons, morning blues and golden hues tend to be shorter in duration than those in the evening—but they are no less potent and emotionally heart warming.

Click here for a related image, Dawn on Lake Como, and here for workshop opportunities to explore different and exotic sunrises and sunsets with your camera and me!

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

Bramante Stairs

The Bramante Stairs is a double helix staircase, meaning it consists of two independent helical stairs in the same vertical space, allowing one person to ascend and another to descend, without ever meeting if they choose different helices. This spectacular staircase is found when leaving the Vatican Museum—the day I visited one of the helical stairs was closed to traffic, and the other was pretty busy.

Bramante Stairs (Looking Up) © Harold Davis

Bramante Stairs (Looking Up) © Harold Davis

Bramante Stair (Looking Down) © Harold Davis

Bramante Stairs (Looking Down) © Harold Davis

Related story: Sistine Chapel Ceiling.

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Tuscan Field

This field has been plowed. It is autumn, and the land is bare, waiting in lengthy passivity for the new crops of spring to begin to show. The patterns in the furrows as rendered by the reflected light from sky and clouds make an austere composition, possibly with more depth than is apparent on the initial glance.

Tuscan Field © Harold Davis

Tuscan Field © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

View from a San Gimignano Tower

I’ve just got home and am recovering from a 26-hour day of travel, and the nine hours of jet lag between the Bay area and Italy. That said, it was a great trip, and I am anticipating much fun as I begin to process my images from Italy. This one is another view from high up a San Gimignano tower as a storm gathered.

View from a San Gimignano Tower © Harold Davis

View from a San Gimignano Tower © Harold Davis

Sistine Chapel Ceiling

Visiting the Vatican Museum is an affair of moving with and through crowds. Most are in densely packed “schools of fish” (in tour groups). Others lumber slowly, couples or small family groups, perhaps with a grandparent and a toddler with stroller in tow.

Sistine Chapel Ceiling © Harold Davis

Sistine Chapel Ceiling © Harold Davis

My friend remarked that the Sistine Chapel—packed wall-to-wall with people—seemed more like a Turkish Bath than a holy place of worship. As I snaked my way through the packed masses and towards the Uscita, I held my camera flat on the top of my head, and snapped the image you see.

Also posted in Photography

Il Campo, Siena

Il Campo is the central square in Siena, Italy—famous for its horse races, as a hang-out spot, and as a demonstration of the civic power of the historic republic of Siena. I visited Il Campo many years ago when I was a college kid to hang out, and not much has changed in all the intervening years. The surrounding restaurants and shops are louder and glitzier, and the crowds larger and more prosperous, but of course the architecture doesn’t change.

Il Campo, Siena © Harold Davis

Il Campo, Siena © Harold Davis

Speaking of architecture, I climbed the campanile tower above Il Campo to make this photo, all 330 stairs, no tripod or camera bag allowed. My fisheye lens was in my pocket, and when I reached the top and caught my breath I switched it on the camera, and held it out as over the brink as I could to make the image.

Clerestory Window

This large clerestory window in the Duomo in Trento, Italy struck me as quite like a mandala with bright, overcast light shining through. I underexposed the image to emphasize the effect. The only possibly discordant element is the small eagle, perhaps Hapsburg, in the center of the piece.

Clerestory Window © Harold Davis

Clerestory Window © Harold Davis

Autumn on the Slopes of Tuscany

Who knew you could ski in Tuscany (at least in the winter)? I photographed these beautiful autumn trees on the upper slopes of Monte Amiata. This is the dominate peak in southern Tuscany at about 5,700 feet (1,700 meters). Under the trees are chair lifts and dozens of hotels, chalets, and the appurtenances of the ski trade—all a little run down, as if skiing in Tuscany is like skiing in the Poconos. These days, it isn’t such a stretch to get to the Dolomites.

© Harold Davis

Autumn on the Slopes of Tuscany © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape

Tuscan Landscape

Rising not quite with the sun, on my way over to the breakfast room, I saw the landscape below with patches of fog, a veritable pattern of lights and darks, layers and counter-layers.

Tuscan Landscape © Harold Davis

Tuscan Landscape © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

San Gimignano in the Rain

Today was a long day! I left Milan in the morning, walked across the street to the train station, and took the express to Florence. In Florence I took a taxi to the rental car agency, Europcar, and found myself behind the wheel in Italy. It’s always a blast to figure out the new systems of each car, like, why is the bluetooth-phone interface talking to me in Spanish? Doesn’t it know this is Italy, and I am American.

© Harold Davis

San Gimignano in the Rain © Harold Davis

After I arrived at the Cesani Agriturismo, an organic farm with wine and olive oil, and a few bedrooms, the rain began coming down. Mindful of Ansel Adams’s famous dictum, that if you aren’t out in the rain you can’t capture the clearing storm, I got in the car and headed a few miles down the road to San Gimignano, famous for its towers.

Climbing the highest tower of all the San Gimignano towers, I heard thunder peeling, and watched the storm front rush towards me. I wasn’t surprised when the guard told me to come down and once, and they closed the tower. Rain poured down in sheets. I consoled myself with a Tuscan meal of bean soup with toast, wild boar chops, and a delicious desert.

More adventures getting back to my room, with flooded roads, fog in the headlamps, and generally treacherous conditions. But obviously I made it to write this story.

Heart of the Dolomites

The Dolomites, in northeastern Italy, are a spectacular range of pinnacles forming the southern reaches of the Alps. These mountains have characteristically grand rock formations, and if you like landscape scenery they should definitely be on your “bucket list.”

Heart of the Dolomites © Harold Davis

Heart of the Dolomites © Harold Davis

Yesterday, in the heart of these mountains, there was a fierce blue sky with traces of new snow on the peaks. It was cold on the peaks, and I was glad to have some layers with me—and could easily believe in the coming of winter!

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

Duomo di Pavia

The ancient Lombard city of Pavia lies on the Ticino River near its confluence with the Po. Pavia is about twenty miles south of Milan. A long time ago, Pavia was the capital of Lombardy. Today it is a bit of a back water, but with some marvelous structures, including a covered bridge over the Ticino that was originally from the 1300s, but was rebuilt after being destroyed in the second world war. The Renaissance cathedral, the Duomo di Pavia, boasts a vast brick and masonry dome, one of the world’s largest. The interior of the dome is shown in this image.

Duomo di Pavia © Harold Davis

Duomo di Pavia © Harold Davis

I photographed the dome with my camera on a tripod, using my 16mm rectilinear fisheye lens, and combining five manually bracketing captures. The result, when viewed head-on and without the appearance of depth and height, reminds me a bit of a mandala.

Click here for more domes, and here for Mandahlia!

Also posted in Photography

Dawn on Lake Como

I’ve been in Italy only a couple of days, and already it seems like there have been some incredible adventures (but not much sleep). This morning I woke in the dark at the family villa of my friend Mauro on Lake Como. I dressed in warm clothes, and turned on my headlamp. Wandering down ancient, cobblestoned paths I found the shores of one of the fingers of Lake Como, and photographed the lights of the town of Lecco across the water in the misty dawn.

Dawn on Lake Como © Harold Davis

Dawn on Lake Como © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Appeal of Venice Off-Season

Photograph Venice in November with Harold Davis

In November, most of the people are gone, skies can be atmospheric and cloudy, and photography of Venice is at its best! Please consider joining me for a fantastic photographic visit to this most incredible of destinations. Click here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form!

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Piazza San Marco © Harold Davis

Venice is the largest preserved antique city in Europe, and possibly the world. Extravagant, decadent, charming with ever-changing light, Venice is a photographer’s delight with its fairy-tale canals and endless maze of footpaths and bridges.

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

Bridge of Sighs at Night © Harold Davis

We’ll focus our lenses on canals, reflections, and the infinite wonder found around every corner in Venice. There will be special emphasis on techniques for impressionistic rendering, and several sessions will be held to teach the related post-production techniques, as well as how best to use an iPhone camera in Venice.

Click here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form!

Venice of Dreams © Harold Davis

Venice of Dreams © Harold Davis

Venice is the largest preserved antique city in Europe, and possibly the world. Extravagant, decadent, charming with ever-changing light, Venice is a photographer’s delight with its fairy-tale canals and endless maze of footpaths and bridges.

Join acclaimed photographer Harold Davis for the experience of a lifetime exploring and photographing La Serenissima, the most serene and exciting Republic of Venice. There you’ll have the opportunity to experience firsthand the places and sights that have inspired artists for centuries.

We’ll focus our lenses on canals, reflections, and the infinite wonder found around every corner in Venice. There will be special emphasis on techniques for impressionistic rendering, and several sessions will be held to teach the related post-production techniques, as well as how best to use an iPhone camera in Venice.

Guided tours of the Doge’s Palace, the Basilica of San Marco, and the Peggy Guggenheim collection are included. We will also explore with our camera many well-known and secretive locations on foot and vaporetti. These include the island of San Gorgio, across the water from San Marco; Murano, the famous island where glass blowing techniques originated; and Burano, a quiet island in the Venice lagoon whose inhabitants make lace and live in colorfully painted houses.

Non-photographic spouses are welcome (there’s plenty to do in Venice besides photography, including cultural and shopping activities!). The group is strictly limited to ten participants.

Burano © Harold Davis

Burano © Harold Davis

Here’s what some participants in past Harold Davis destination photo workshops have to say:

  • “Had an awesome time with Harold and the workshop participants.  Itching to go back.”

    Canals of Venice © Harold Davis

    Canals of Venice © Harold Davis

  • “A once-in-a-lifetime experience that I plan to repeat!”
  • “Harold has great skill, without the ego of most master photographers. Travel arrangements were perfect.”
  • “One thing I really liked about the photo tour that Harold set up is that we had plenty of time to photograph in the best locations, and really prioritized when the light would be good.”
  • “You two did a great job at researching, organizing, and leading this trip.”
  • “Again, thanks for a wonderful trip and a big thank you to Phyllis for everything that she did!”
  • “Harold is genuine, generous, and gracious – he has a world of knowledge and expertise that he loves to share – his wonderful books show his monumental talents and skill set, and his workshops shows the depth of his connecting with others in a very real and personal way.”

Where: The group will be based at the Hotel Flora, a unique and charming Venetian hotel that is an oasis of calm and centrally located a very short walk from Piazza San Marco.

Hotel Flora Garden

Hotel Flora Garden

Hotel Flora - Stairs

Hotel Flora – Stairs

When: Sunday November 6, 2016 (leave US November 5) to Sunday November 12, 2016 (six nights and seven days).

Group Size: This exclusive, small photo workshop tour is limited to ten photographers (non-photographer significant others are also welcome).

Venice Gondola © Harold Davis

Venice Gondola © Harold Davis

Click here for complete itinerary with a list of inclusions and exclusions.

To Register: Please send us an email expressing interest right away; a completed registration requires a $1000 deposit and Reservation Form, and a copy of your passport page.

Venice in a Silver Light © Harold Davis

Venice in a Silver Light © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops