Category Archives: Monochrome

Entrance to the Warlord’s Palace

In the early years of the twentieth century a Hmong warlord ruled in the remote and high mountains in the triangle between Vietnam, Laos, and China. Opium poppies were the source of his income and power.

Entrance to the Warlord's Palace © Harold Davis

Entrance to the Warlord’s Palace © Harold Davis

There’s some confusion as to who built the palace for the “King of the Hmongs”. The guidebook says it was built by the French. Our local guide credited the people the warlord ruled, as a kind of tribute. In any case, the warlord was clearly sought after by the great powers, and also handled all issues of life and death for those who lived under his sway.

Incidentally, like many a building of the rich and powerful, the entrance to the warlord’s palace is far grander than any of the chambers on the inside.

Also posted in Vietnam

Tom Toa Church Steeple

On a quiet, gray day Eric and I walked along the banks of the Nhat Le River. This river bisects the city of Dong Hoi, a provincial capital in central Vietnam.

Pretty soon we came upon the steeple of a ruined church (shown below) in a fenced enclosure in a small riverside park. It has been preserved in its ruined state, according to the plaque at the site, as evidence of the war crimes of the American aggressor when the church was bombed into ruins in 1965.

Tam Toa Church Steeple © Harold Davis

Tam Toa Church Steeple © Harold Davis

Also posted in Vietnam

Rice Paddies with Reflected Tree

Rice Paddies with Tree Reflection, Vietnam © Harold Davis

Rice Paddies with Reflected Tree, Vietnam © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Vietnam

Thap Rua

Thap Rua—Turtle Tower—is a structure in the middle of Hoan Kiem Lake, an island of peace in the bustle of downtown Hanoi. The Turtle Tower is linked to an ancient legend of a magical sword, a powerful Dragon who helped defeat Chinese invaders, and the protective Golden Turtle God.

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) © Harold Davis

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Vietnam

White Rose Blushing in Color and Black and White

I thought this white rose with a hint of satin-like blush was going to look great in black and white, but when I processed it I saw that the color had some appeal as well. One of the great things about digital black and white is that you can have a “two-fer”: a color image and a monochromatic image. 

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

 

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

I photographed this white rose using ambient sunlight with my 200mm f/4 Nikkor macro lens on a tripod, and a 18mm extension tube to get a little closer. Each image is a blended combination of six exposures, stopped down to f/32 and bracketed one EV apart for each exposure (by shutter speed).

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

 

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Harold Davis on Black & White Vision at B&H Photo in New York: the Video

I was in New York as part of a trip to promote my new book The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook. My presentation at B&H Photo was well attended and fun for me. The good folks at B&H were very kind to a somewhat jet-lagged peripatetic photographer. The video of my presentation is now available.

If for some reason the video of my presentation doesn’t load here, you can also watch it on YouTube!

Also posted in Photography

Tuscan Road

Wandering the fields and byways of southern Tuscany, I came across this tree-lined road, and settled in for a photography session, enjoying the action of the high-flying clouds. I processed the image to look intentionally anachronistic, essentially like a kind of illustration rather than a photo.

Tuscan Road © Harold Davis

Tuscan Road © Harold Davis

Also posted in Italy, Landscape

Last Light

As the last light of day touches the sea-kissed cliffs, it is important to keep in mind that although night may follow day, day also follows night. Be of good cheer, and Happy New Year! There is always light beyond.

Last Light © Harold Davis

Last Light © Harold Davis

There is always light beyond © Harold Davis

There is always light beyond © Harold Davis

Sunset beyond the Bridge © Harold Davis

Sunset beyond the Bridge © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Photography

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