Category Archives: Landscape

Snows of Yesteryear

Yosemite Snowstorm © Harold Davis

Yosemite Snowstorm © Harold Davis

Thinking about the upcoming photography conference in Yosemite led me to browse through some of my archives of work of Yosemite in winter’s past. Digital means never having to say one is sorry, and that it is always possible to reprocess. Contemporary advances in software interpolation means that even fairly low resolution images can be enlarged and printed at decent sizes. So maybe it is worth going through one’s files to see what was captured at the dawn of the digital photography era!

The color version of the image above was originally blogged in 2006 in But Where Are the Snows of Yesteryear.

I think the three images below, of a snowstorm in Yosemite, ice on the Merced River, and a somewhat hair-raising view off the spine of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park were never blogged—they do not appear in any of my books—and date to roughly the same time frame. The image of the Blizzard takes a little looking at in the larger size (and maybe squinting) before the shapes of the snow-laden trees become fully apparent.

Blizzard © Harold Davis

Blizzard © Harold Davis

Skim Ice on the Merced © Harold Davis

Skim Ice on the Merced © Harold Davis

View from Angel's Landing © Harold Davis

View from Angel’s Landing © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography, Yosemite

Paris Landscape

With the storm receding, from the top of the Tour Montparnasse near sunset, Paris looked like it could be any other rain-wracked landscape (of course, it is not, there is only one Paris), with La Défense clustered behind the almost-toy Eiffel Tower.

Paris Landscape © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Paris

Apparently Home to Manatees and More

After my workshop in West Palm Beach, I had a morning to explore south Florida. I rented a car, and drove through scrub and pre-Everglades marsh inland to Lake Okeechobee—seemingly big enough to count as an inland sea with the further shore invisible in the distant horizon, and apparently home to manatees. Heading down the small road towards Canal Point on the shores of Lake Okeechobee, I was followed by a police car for miles, and meticulously kept to the speed limit as I passed through small hamlets. The dirt poor landscape was in striking contrast to the glitz and wealth of the high rises along the ocean shore.

Lake Okeechobee © Harold Davis

Of course, one is not going to get the gist of any landscape or place in a short visit. And I had to start thinking about getting to the airport on time for my connecting flight (through Atlanta) home. But I hadn’t yet seen the Atlantic Ocean in my days giving the workshop, only the inside of a studio and the classroom, and the stealth metropolis—the Palm Beach cities have about a million people—plunked in a place that would seemingly be uninhabitable without air conditioning, even in February.

Atlantic © Harold Davis

So I turned the car towards the Atlantic coast, and took a long look at the waves and cloud-wracked sky before returning to the world of airport lounges and the cramped steerage of the backs of airplanes.

Also posted in Monochrome

Hitting the Flickr Explore Jackpot with Crepuscular Coast

Crepuscular Coast (v2) © Harold Davis

My monochromatic image Crepuscular Coast (shown above) hit Flickr Explore yesterday. This is a reprocessed version of the original image, which I originally photographed, processed, and posted in October 2018 (link to the original story here).

I reprocessed the image at the behest of a client, who wanted me to take down the crepuscular rays a bit (those rays were really there!). I also removed a small texture effect—which you can mostly see in the sky of the original version—so the reprocessed version is a cleaner, simpler, and starker image, although the differences between the two versions are really pretty subtle.

Three months out the original version on Flickr has 173 views and 4 Faves (“Faves” are the Flickr version of “likes”). In contrast, the reprocessed version on Flickr after about 36 hours has 10, 558 views and 575 Faves, and counting upwards. Whatever one’s opinion of the merits of the two versions, most of this vast difference in audience appreciation can be attributed to the inclusion of the recent one in Flickr Explore.

The eyeballs today for photography are mostly on Instagram, and if you want your work to be seen you need to go where the eyeballs are, despite the formidable limitations that Instagram has for serious photographers (it is designed best for mobile photography). But even compared with Instagram, when it comes to instant recognition, it is hard to beat Flickr Explore. My own experience is that any image that “makes Explore” get 10K page views almost immediately, and is typically profitably licensed. I get an image “Explored” once every quarter or so; besides Crepuscular Coast, two of the most recent ones are Lonely Road / Poem of the Road and Twisted.

So some of the images included in Flickr Explore are pretty compelling (I like to think mine are!), and others not so much. How do images get “Explored”?

In April, 2018 SmugMug bought Flickr from Verizon, who had acquired it about a year earlier from Yahoo. SmugMug has made it clear that being “Explored” is reserved for paying customers a/k/a Professional members of Flickr, which seems quite fair, and a good policy.

Besides membership category, Flickr itself is pretty mum about the process of being “Explored”, but points to an algorithm for something they dub “interestingness”. As one FAQ for an Explore derivative group on Flickr puts it, “Selections for Explore are made by a math equation. This math equation (called an algorithm) calculates a score based on how many views, faves and comments an images gets over a period of time. The better the score the higher an image gets placed in the Explore list. Faves are heavily weighted in the equation and are far more important than comments. This score is often referred to as the “interestingness” factor of an image.”

Of course, blaming an opaque algorithm for a secret sauce is not unusual in “high tech land,” whether that secret sauce is Google’s PageRank algorithm or Flickr’s interestingness algorithm for Explore. Really, the process of “being Explored” is pretty much a black box.

The only thing that is clear is that something like the community trail conundrum is at work: the more times a trail is trod upon the more visible it becomes, leading to more visits, more visibility, and a bigger trail, all in a virtuous spiral. Early movement is vital: you don’t get an image “Explored” unless it starts garnering views, comments, and faves pretty early in its online history. Anecdotally, based on my observations, I agree that faving (“liking”) is actually more important than views or comments in terms of the algorithm’s ranking.

So we don’t really know how images get into Explore. We do know that some of the images in Explore are very good and others are banal, or worse. Comments and observations are welcome. Perhaps if we put our communal heads together we can shed some light on this conundrum. After all, this is one more mysterious process in virtual space with real world consequences.

Also posted in Flickr, Monochrome, Photography

Weston Gallery sells two prints of my work

I am very pleased that Weston Gallery has sold two prints of my work. The subject of each print is a California mountain landscape. One is a panorama, Panorama of the Sierra Crest, photographed from the Alabama Hills above Lone Pine at sunrise, and shown below.

Panorama of the Sierra Crest © Harold Davis

The other image is a monochromatic version of a rough, eroded landscape, taken near the Middle Fork of the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park.

Badlands © Harold Davis

Meanwhile, from the far side of the world, my group had a great time photographing the island of Gozo (famous as the supposed Ogygia of Calypso and Odysseus fame), and made it to the ferry back to the “mainland” of Malta just ahead of a blustering storm!

Also posted in Photography

Crepuscular Coast

The sun coming over the mountains, and fog rising from the ocean, combined in crepuscular rays to first illuminate the coastal bridge and then with chiaroscuro light the rocky shore.

Crepuscular Coast © Harold Davis

Light and emotion go together. There cannot be light without darkness in contrast, so the two coexist as equal parts of ourselves and our world. When the darkness and light combine in just the right chiaroscuro mixture, then we see an echo of ourselves, the good and bad within, and the light to strive for. And, you can only photograph light—light that is reflected or emitted. You cannot photograph an object in-and-of-itself. The only subject of photography is truly light.

Crepuscular Coast – Black and White © Harold Davis

I photographed these images on Cape Perpetua in coastal Oregon. The color and monochromatic view of the coast with crepuscular rays (above) was mode in morning light. The images of Heceta Head Lighthouse (shown below) were made right about at sunset.

Heceta Head Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Heceta Head © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Endless Summer

The last few days on the Mendocino coast have been an endless summer with blue arcing skies, crisp waves, and orange sunsets. Today we headed north past the Lost Coast, and into the long forest of redwoods and fog. Tomorrow Oregon on this very cool road trip. 

Sunset and Waves © Harold Davis

Devil’s Postpile

Deep in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, down the drainage of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River from the Minarets, Mt Banner, and the Ritter Range, lies the formation of basalt pillars that is the basis for Devil’s Postpile National Monument. As it happens, a dead-end road leads from the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes, over the Pacific Crest, and before the road ends at the Reds Meadow pack station passes within half a mile of Devil’s Postpile. 

Devil’s Postpile © Harold Davis

In September, on my way to the night photography workshop in Lone Pine, on a deliciously golden sunlit day, I took the time to travel over to Devil’s Postpile. With my camera on tripod, I made a series of abstract exposures, much more interested in the shapes of the formation than any larger sense of context.

Also posted in Monochrome

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