Category Archives: Landscape

Abbazia di Sant’Antimo

Nestled in a valley in the Tuscan Hills, the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo—Abbey of Saint Anthony—dates originally from the eighth century. If you arrive at the right time, you can hear the monks chanting—but mostly this is a peaceful and silent place. Back in the day, the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo was a secular powerhouse as well as a religious community, and owned farms and churches from here to Siena. But all things must pass, the material world is vanity, and today other than when there is chanting, the Abbazia di Sant’Antimo is notable for the quietness of its pristine location.

Abbazia di Sant'Antimo © Harold Davis

Abbazia di Sant’Antimo © Harold Davis

Also posted in Italy

Romantic Landscapes

There’s nothing I like better than to capture romantic landscapes. Of course, any landscape can be romantic in the right light, and almost any landscape can be grim in harsh light. Still, when I am in the heart of the mountains, my thoughts turn towards romantic imagery—and the same when there is a sweetly pictaresque tower or two, or maybe an ancient castle rampart.

Towers of San Gimignano © Harold Davis

Towers of San Gimignano © Harold Davis

Fundamentally, this is an anti-post-modern aesthetic on my part. Maybe this is catchier as “post-post-modern” imagery (abbreviated as “post-squared modern”). In other words, I like the lushness of imagery that shows us a world that is partially fantasy. A world that takes a certain kind of eye to see, and the very real skills of a post-squared modern digital artist to capture without overdoing it. I am aware of the possibilities of irony, but prefer the policies of optimism.

Dolomite View © Harold Davis

Dolomite View © Harold Davis

About the images: (Top) With sunset coming on in a light rain, I hurried to find a high vantage point in the fabulous towered confection of San Gimignano, Italy. From the little tower on the Rocca I had a great view across to the towers, and to the rain passing in the sunset. (Above) View east from the mountains above Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. (Below) This sunset view of Castelo Marvao in Portugal reminds me of the feeling in the San Gimignano image at the beginning of this story.

Castelo Marvao © Harold Davis

Castelo Marvao © Harold Davis

Also posted in Italy, Photography, Portugal

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 Italy, Photography

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 Italy

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 Italy, Photography

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 Italy, Photography

Rockland Breakwater

The Rockland, Maine breakwater is a loosely laid wall of large granite rocks that protects Rockland harbor, and stretches about a mile out to a lighthouse. The photo below shows the breakwater in its causeway aspect, while I used the motion of the waves on a float anchored to the causeway and a longish time exposure (two minutes) to create the still water effect in the image shown underneath.

Rockland Breakwater 1 © Harold Davis

Rockland Breakwater 1 © Harold Davis

Rockland Breakwater 2 © Harold Davis

Rockland Breakwater 2 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Morning Mist

Morning Mist © Harold Davis

Morning Mist © Harold Davis

In the early morning in the Lot River Valley fog follows the course of the river, shown here behind a stand of trees and in front of the cliffs on the far side of the valley.

Also posted in France, Photography

Country Rainbow

To paraphrase Ansel Adams, if you don’t go out in the rain, you will never get to photograph the clearing storm. As I explored the ancient town of Cordes sur Ciel, it began to rain. I pulled out my rain gear and continued up to the highest battlement. From the top of the fortifications, a rainbow spread out over the countryside of southwest France below me.

Country Rainbow © Harold Davis

Country Rainbow © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Photography

Looking Up

Sometimes a view from underneath looking up is a great way to present an unusual composition, and interesting light. People don’t look up nearly enough! Some cases in point: Here are two views from underneath, one looking up at the Eiffel tower and the other from beneath a weeping willow at Monet’s Garden in Giverny.

Underneath La Tour Eiffel © Harold Davis

Underneath La Tour Eiffel © Harold Davis

Under the Weeping Willow at Giverny © Harold Davis

Under the Weeping Willow at Giverny © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Paris, Photography

Cliffs of the River Lot

I am sitting in the Gare Matabiau in Toulouse, France waiting for the train to Paris. The bench with plugs for my electronics beckoned, and I work in the modern station on my laptop, dreaming of the cliffs of the River Lot and the trail beside the river.

Cliffs of the River Lot © Harold Davis

Cliffs of the River Lot © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Photography

Lot River Valley

Today we walked to the small town of Calvignac, France perched on a rocky crag, and about 3 kilometers from the Mas de Garrigue. The weather threatened rain, and was misting when we set out. But along the way the clouds opened up, the threatened rain never arrived, and from the ledges in Calvignac there were glorious views across the valley and the bends in the Lot River.

Lot River Valley © Harold Davis

Lot River Valley © Harold Davis

This is a seven exposure blend shot on a tripod using the Zeiss 35mm f/1.4. Each exposure was shot at f/6.3 and ISO 100, with shutter speeds between 1/40 of a second (for the dark trees in the foreground) and 1/2,500 of a second (for the bright clouds in the sky).

I used the image as a black and white demo for the group, first processing the seven exposures using Nik HDR Efex Pro. Next, I tweaked the color version. Finally, I converted to black and white using a layer stack, layers, masking, and a number of different conversion filters and presets.

Also posted in France, Monochrome

Dawn in the Lot Valley

Last night a wild storm blew down the Lot River valley, with thunder, lightning, and even some hail. For much of the night rain and gusts of wind beat against the windows of the old farmhouse. At dawn, in the morning, things had calmed down—and clouds and tendrils of mist hung to low-lying areas. Above the clouds, the sun rose and dawn touching the scene with its golden light.

Dawn in the Lot Valley © Harold Davis

Dawn in the Lot Valley © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Photography

Park Path and Reflection

I photographed this image in the Parc de Sceaux, which is located in the suburbs of Paris, France and accessible to the city center via light rail (RER).

Park Path and Reflection © Harold Davis

Park Path and Reflection © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Paris, Photography

After the Rain

It had been raining for many days without stopping. While drought conditions in California meant that we really needed this heavy winter rain, enough felt like enough. I was ready to start work on an arc on our roof!

After the Rain © Harold Davis

After the Rain © Harold Davis

In the morning, the storms finally ended, and the skies cleared. I was in the car, helping to get the kids to school. I snapped this photo with my iPhone 6s, being careful to focus the camera on the water drops on the car windshield, and not on the more distant vista of the street.

Processed on my iPhone with the Snapseed, DistressedFX, and Mextures apps.

Related image: Rain in Rabat.

If you are interested, there are a few places in my full-day From iPhone to Art workshop on Saturday May 21, 2016—but it is filling up quickly.

Also posted in iPhone, Photography