Category Archives: Landscape

East of the Sierras

Coming down the long steep road from Tioga Pass, the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains was hazy. In the distance, thunder rumbled. Then, to my surprise, a sharp rainstorm.

As the squall passed, amid the ozone smell, I stopped beside a dirt track road, and photographed the brush against the background of the western wall of peaks.

East of the Sierras © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Mountains of the Mind

Distant Mountains © Harold Davis

Distant Mountains © Harold Davis

Mist in the distant mountains is nature’s way of replacing clarity of sight with unspoken nuance. We do not know what lies beneath the layers of mist, but there is always the possibility that it is what we seek. Therefore, we peer and trudge onward through the mountains of the mind, always looking for that which transcends the literal that is before us.

Like Poem of the Road, this is another texture demonstration image from my course on Photoshop Backgrounds and Textures for LinkedIn Learning slash Lynda.com.

New print on Moab Entrada Rag Textured

As you can see here, I just made a new print on Moab Entrada Rag Textured. I’m pleased with the way this came out, and I think the moderate texture of the paper contrasts but works very nicely with the styling of the image—a rendering of a coastal oak tree, with the image shown at the bottom of this story!

New Print on Entrada Rag Textured © Harold Davis

California Oak Tree © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

From the iPhone files

Here are two recent iPhone images. I photographed the tree in the Walnut Creek area in the foothills below Mt Diablo. This was originally two iPhone captures, one exposed for the bright sun coming through the tree, and the other for the darker foreground. 

Tree © Harold Davis

I combined the two exposures using the manual option in the TrueHDR iPhone app, then finished it with DistressedFX and Snapseed.

I photographed the tulips (shown below) the other day at our local Trader Joe’s store. I processed the image in Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect with borders, then reprocessed the Waterlogue version with the original (using ImageBlender) to walk the Waterlogue effect back a bit.

Tulips © Harold Davis

I’m often asked how iPhoneography compares to “real” photography with my “Big Boy” cameras. It’s worth saying again that there is no right or wrong. Photography is about vision and seeing, not about gear. The craft of photography is always a craft of trade-offs, and there are things I can do with my iPhone camera and related apps that I cannot do with my Nikon D850 (and of course vice versa as well).

Also posted in Flowers, iPhone

Two from the Western Slope

Here are two images from my visit to the Western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in November (click each image to view them larger).

Red Dragon Sunset © Harold Davis

Western Slope of the Sierras © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Marin Coast with old gun emplacement

The Marin Coast is astoundingly beautiful for being so near a major city (San Francisco). We are lucky that much of it remains undeveloped, and that environmentalists won the battles of the 1960s that would have turned it into subdivisions, shopping malls, and four-leaf clover overpasses. In my experience, this is one of the most remarkable coastlines anywhere in the world.

Marin Coast with old gun emplacement © Harold Davis

The photo is looking north up the Marin Headlands at sunset. In the foreground it shows and old pillbox and gun emplacement, dating from the World War II era when a Japanese invasion was feared. When the military pulled out of the area, they didn’t do a very good job of cleaning up, and structures like this one can be found dotting the Headlands.

From this location, facing south instead of north, one can see Point Bonita and its lighthouse.

Also posted in San Francisco Area

Point Bonita

At dusk the outer cliffs of the Headlands become shrouded in mystery. Point Bonita Lighthouse guards the approach to the Golden Gate, as it has since the days of steamships. A formidable approach indeed, who is to know from the rugged coast that the way is open to a vast inland bay?

Point Bonita in Black and White © Harold Davis

Point Bonita Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography, San Francisco Area

How Long Must Eye Wait?

Wedged in a crack behind the aptly-named Ladyboot Arch in the Alabama Hills of the eastern Sierra near the Nevada border of California, I already knew this wasn’t going to be the perfect image. For one thing, the lens I was using, my dearly beloved Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 horizontal fisheye had blown over in an accident a few days earlier, with a nasty crack on the front optical element.

How Long Must Eye Wait? © Harold Davis

The focus of the lens was also jammed, stuck (fortunately) on infinity. That is, nobody wants focus to be jammed, but if an extreme wide-angle has to have a single focus, infinity would be the choice.

Ultimately, I had no idea whether shooting through this damaged lens would produce reasonable results.

I was also faced with a problem of topography: the crevice I was in would not let me set the tripod up normally, and I had to spread the legs and wedge them against the rock walls.

Finally, all was ready to start the timer on the intervalometer. But for reasons unknown, it simply wouldn’t work with the camera. 

Falling back on “Plan B” with grace under pressure is a normal part of any photographer’s toolkit. My Nikon camera has on-board intervalometer functionality, admittedly with an inscrutable user interface. The limitation is that the shutter speed maxes out at 30 seconds. 

Normally, my practice with this kind of photography is to set the camera to Bulb, and shoot a sequence of wide open (or nearly wide-open) captures at four minutes (using ISO 400). 

Dropping the shutter speed down to 30 seconds meant I was exposing for 1/8 the duration of time I normally would (because 30 seconds is 1/8 of 4 minutes). To compensate, I needed to boost the ISO by a factor of eight, from 400 to 3,200.

The final exposure data was 141 exposures, each exposure made at 30 seconds, f/2.8, and ISO 3,200. Post-production was in Photoshop, using the Statistics script with stack mode set to Maximum.

Here’s an image from the front of Ladyboot Arch, and another image from the rear of the arch (made with my other camera, a working intervalometer, and the Zeiss 15mm wide-angle lens!).

Night photography workshops are indeed a great deal of fun, and I am looking forward to a repeat engagement in Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, with my friend and distinguished night photographer Steven Christensen of Star Circle Academy as co-teacher in 2018. The dates are Friday, September 7 through Monday, September 10, 2018. Click here for more information!

Also posted in Digital Night, Photography, Workshops

Grizzly Falls

Just off the road along the South Fork of the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park, Grizzly Falls presented great contrasts of light and dark. I used a neutral density filter to make a long exposure (fifteen seconds) and to soften the flowing water. As I setup my camera and tripod, I glanced at the top of the falls. Someone, no doubt a good climber, had placed the Republic of California grizzly bear flag on a wood stick at the top of the falls, where it was fluttering in the breeze—and, as such, showed the only grizzly bear likely to be seen around Grizzly Falls, since the species is, of course, extinct in California.

Grizzly Falls © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Landscape in Layers

It’s fun to photograph a landscape that appears to be layered. Usually, this works best in the early morning or later afternoon (or even earlier at sunrise, or later at sunset), also when there is a little fog or haze.

There’s a small amount of optimization and tweaking one can do in post-production, but mostly this is an issue of being ready with one’s camera in the right place at the right time. Most of the art is being there with eyes open and camera ready.

Besides the image shown here, photographed from Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park, looking towards the great California central valley, with fog obscuring most of the coastal range, in this genre check out Landscape of Blue Layers (the White Mountains of Eastern California),  Sunrise in Rural Romania, Mountains near Meo Vac (northern Vietnam), Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po (Japan), and Distant Mountains (Panamint Range of Eastern California).

Down in the Valley © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Landscape of Blue Layers

From the heights of the White Mountains, the ranges to the south looked blue in the haze. With very little intermediation from me, photographic capture turned these vast spaces into a layered landscape of a near abstract quality.

Landscape of Blue Layers © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Lonely Road

I had hoped to leave the haze and smoke of the Bay area behind, but coming across Yosemite and then down the eastern slope of the High Sierra we descended into a miasma. As the light and visibility faded, I stopped beside a lonely road to photograph the line of telephone poles fading into the scarcely visible mountains in the distance.

Lonely Road

Also posted in Monochrome

Son Doong Cave

The interior landscape of Son Doong Cave is ethereal and fantastic. Keep in mind that this mystical landscape is cloaked in darkness. The camera sees far more than the naked eye.

Son Doong Cave © Harold Davis

 

Parting of the Veil © Harold Davis

 

Entrance to the Secret Valley © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Vietnam

Church and Lighthouse on Gozo

This is a view of a church and lighthouse on Gozo, an island that is part of the Maltese archipelago of three islands. We photographed the view in the morning light before everything was too harsh. Gozo is a beautiful and laid back place where I think one could spend a fair amount of dreamy time wandering the cliffs above the Mediterranean. For some reason, there are a large number of out-of-scale and out-of-the-way big, fairly modern churches—like the one shown—in many places on Gozo.

Church and Lighthouse, Gozo © Harold Davis

I’m caught up in the rush of being home in California, photographing flowers, organizing future workshop and travel plans, and being with family. But I’m trying to go through my images from the past several months travel in Vietnam, France, Spain, and—yes!—Malta, and gradually process some of these images.

Special thanks to Paul, we could not have wished for a better photographic guide to Gozo. Gozo, the mythological Ogygia, home to Calypso in the Odyssey, is a place I really, really hope to visit again.

Also posted in Malta, Monochrome

Wine Country

This image shows a rose-tinted reflection in the extension to the Chateau la Dominique vineyard near St Emilion, France designed by well-known architect Jean Nouvel.

Wine Country © Harold Davis

Wine Country © Harold Davis

Also posted in France