Category Archives: Monochrome

Safety Pin

Safety Pin © Harold Davis

Safety Pin © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Workshop in a Suitcase

I am used to leading two kinds of photography workshops: one is close enough to my home base in Berkeley so it is easy to set up the workshop room in advance, the other is under the auspices of an institution where I am not responsible for setup. Last weekend’s Black and White in San Francisco workshop was a hybrid, in other words a kind of cross between the two.

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

We rented a really very nice space in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown as the home base for the event. This turned out to be a great idea, but there was really no way we could setup in advance. In thinking how I could get everything I needed over to the workshop from the parking garage, I hit on the idea of encapsulating it in the suitcase I use traveling. This led to the workshop in a suitcase, possibly a relative of the great monologist Spalding Gray’s Monster in a Box.

Farther Shore © Harold Davis

Farther Shore © Harold Davis

Thanks to the participants in this workshop for being a great and game group despite the rain in Saturday. We had fun in a variety of locations. I photographed the Golden Gate Bridge and Fort Point (top) and Baker and China Beaches from Fort Point (above) in foul weather on Saturday, and used the images in classroom black and white conversion demos.

Rome from St Peter's Dome © Harold Davis

Rome from St Peter’s Dome © Harold Davis

The sepia image of the eternal city (Rome) shown above was a classroom demonstration, with the file drawn from my recent trip to Italy. The box of prints shown below was contained as part of my monster, er, workshop in a suitcase. This was a great workshop and location. We will probably but it on rotation for a repeat sometime in the next 12-18 months, and you might not want to miss it both in terms of the photography and the hands-on demos of monochromatic conversion techniques. You can keep tabs on my workshop schedule by visiting my Workshops & Events page.

Prints in a Box © Harold Davis

Prints in a Box © Harold Davis

Also posted in San Francisco Area, Workshops

Two new botanicals in black and white

Succulent and Rain Drops © Harold Davis

Succulent and Rain Drops © Harold Davis

 

Jagged Leaves © Harold Davis

Jagged Leaves © Harold Davis

Also posted in 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 Italy, 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 Italy, Photography

Planet of the Succulents

Planet of the Succulents © Harold Davis

Planet of the Succulents © Harold Davis

This is a succulent from our front porch. I brought it inside, and photographed it straight down on a black velvet background. My thought was that it looked rounded like a globe or planet. I used my 55mm f/1.4 Zeiss Otus lens at 1/6 of a second and f/16 at ISO 64 with the camera on a tripod. I cropped to create a square image in post-production. The version below is an L-channel inversion of the original image, using LAB color.

Evil Twin: Inverted Succulent World © Harold Davis

Evil Twin: Inverted Succulent World © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Carcassonne in Black & White

Carcassone Outer Fortifications © Harold Davis

Carcassone Outer Fortifications © Harold Davis

The techniques shown in this image—bracketed sequence photography, processing for extended dynamic range, layer stack monochromatic conversion, all with an added antique effect—are detailed in my new book. It is available for pre-order on Amazon and the publisher’s website. Thanks to everyone who has made The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook: Making and Processing Stunning Digital Black and White Photos the #1 New Release in Black & White Photography on Amazon and Amazon’s #1 “Hot New Release” in this category!

9781580934787

Also posted in Digital Night, France, Writing

Stonington Harbor, Maine

When you saw the title of this blog story, I’ll bet you thought it would be illustrated with images of picturesque lobster boats, lobster traps, and so on. Well, there are plenty of those in Stonington, at the foot of Deer Isle, facing Penobscot Bay.

Stonington Harbor © Harold Davis

Stonington Harbor © Harold Davis

Stonington is a true working harbor, and a little off the beaten track of tourists to Acadia National Park, with an industrial-scale lobster operation. At dusk, when the tide was low, I wandered some of the rundown piers, and admired the still reflections in the waters of the Atlantic.

Pier, Stonington Harbor © Harold Davis

Pier, Stonington Harbor © Harold Davis

Setting up my tripod amid tall grass and old lobster traps, I ignored the mosquitoes buzzing my ankles, and focused on the pilings and stone walls across the inlet from Stonington’s commercial fishing pier.

Also posted in 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 Landscape, Photography

Penobscot Crossing

The observatory at the top of the bridge across the Penobscot Narrows bills itself as the highest bridge observatory in the world. Be that as it may, on a rainy day the lines and shapes of this interesting bridge became an abstract from above, particularly when crossed with the wake of a motor boat.

Penobscot Crossing © Harold Davis

Penobscot Crossing © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Isleboro Ferry

Today I took my workshop class on a field trip to Isleboro, a short ferry ride from the Maine mainland. One of the techniques I asked the group to practice was intentionally hand-holding long exposures for a blurred look. This kind of blurring becomes one possible tool in the in-camera digital toolbox—tack sharp is not the only aesthetic choice when we make images. As an example, here is a long exposure image of the Isleboro ferry coming into the dock.

Isleboro Ferry © Harold Davis

Isleboro Ferry © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, 28-300mm lens at 90mm, six seconds at f/25 and ISO 64, +4 neutral density filter, circular polarizer, hand held; processed in Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex, and Perfect B&W.

Also posted in Photography

Three Poses and a Two-Fer

Contemplation © Harold Davis

Contemplation © Harold Davis

I had fun photographing a model from Los Angeles the other day. Mostly we did multiple exposures, but I also did some single poses. The single poses are shown above, and the first two below. The bottom image is an in-camera double exposure, with the same model appearing twice. I converted all images to black and white to keep the visual impact of these images simple. The model is Sera Ferron.

Wonder Why © Harold Davis

Wonder Why © Harold Davis

Figure Study Jumping © Harold Davis

Figure Study Jumping © Harold Davis

Me & Me © Harold Davis

Me & Me © Harold Davis

Also posted in Models, Photography

Sunflower

Sunflower on White in Black and White © Harold Davis

Sunflower on White in Black and White © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Handsome Gargoyle Devil and the Pinhole Effect

A gargoyle is a carved grotesque, with (sometimes) the practical function of serving as a down spout for rain, and often the emotional purpose of warding off evil spirits. The world’s most famous gargoyles are those on the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris—which, however, are probably as much due to the Gothic romanticist architect Viollet-le-Duc as they are to historical veracity and antiquity. When Viollet-le-Duc reconstructed Notre Dame in the 1860s, it was tumbling down and virtually abandoned. Violett-le-Duc’s renovation was strongly inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame—a work of romantic fiction not particularly based in historical realities.

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Whatever the historical authenticity of the Notre Dame gargoyles, they are a marvelous subject for photography, and a “must see” on any first visit to Paris, particularly if you have kids with you (my fourteen-year-old son Nicky joined me for my last visit to Paris in the spring, so I got a refresher in all things gargoyle, and hot chocolate as well!).

The first cameras were pinhole cameras. Pinhole cameras don’t have a lens.  Instead of a lens, light passes through a tiny hole; the light passing through this hole forms the image inside the camera. A camera obscura is a large pinhole camera where light passes through a tiny hole—the smaller the hole, or aperture, the sharper the image—and is projected on the back wall of an otherwise dark room.

The projected image is upside down, but perspective and other characteristics are preserved, so a camera obscura can be used to create detailed drawings that are accurate representations of scenes.

The first camera obscura was created by Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham in the eleventh century. In the west, the optics of the pinhole effect were imported from the Arab world, and understood as early as the fifteenth century Renaissance (they were described by Leonardo da Vinci and others). The use of the optical pinhole effect in the camera obscura was one of the key discoveries leading up to the invention of photography; if you get the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a large camera obscura, found in public parks in a number of major cities (adjacent to Seal Rocks in San Francisco).

I processed my image of this gargoyle as a demonstration of the post-production pinhole effect (adding the pinhole look-and-feel in the Photoshop darkroom rather than in the camera) for my forthcoming book The Photographers Black and White Handbook. The result is a blend of the Nik Silver Efex Pinhole preset (70%) and the Topaz B&W Effects Pinhole (30%).

Also posted in Paris, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Kira in a Cafe

For the demonstration of how to add a post-production selective soft focus using an Iris Blur for my forthcoming book from Monacelli Press, The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook, I used this portrait of Kira, photographed in a café near the Eiffel Tower in the City of Light.

Kira in a cafe © Harold Davis

Kira in a cafe © Harold Davis

Also posted in Paris, Photography