Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Bad Pilgrim

So I guess I am a bad pilgrim. On account of my blisters, I am staying off my feet, as they advised me at the Pilgrim’s service at Queens Hospital in Ponferrada (as told here). This means taking a taxi from place to place, and staying off my feet is relative. The nurse told me I could start being a pilgrim again when it didn’t hurt to put weight on my foot. I think that means a day or two more. The dressing they put on in the hospital is very professional, and better than anything I will come up with on my own.

In the meantime, not walking means missing the point of the pilgrimage. Bad pilgrim Harold, bad, bad!

Astorga Cathedral © Harold Davis

Blistered Feet

For days after the 33km march in the broiling sun out of Leon I had been nursing a big blister on the bottom pad of my left foot. It was painful to walk, and wasn’t getting any better. After each night, it was a little better, but by the end of a day trekking it was just as bad as it had been the previous day. After a long day on the trail, in Rabanal del Camino in the Cantabrian Mountains, I finally said that enough was enough. 

Camino © Harold Davis

Instead of walking, the next morning I took a taxi into Ponferrada, a reasonably-sized place and my next destination. Luis, the taxi driver, assessed the situation, and suggested I visit the nearby Queen’s hospital, where they have a free clinic for credentialed pilgrims.

This seemed like great advice, and I hobbled over to the emergency room. The pilgrim’s clinic didn’t open for a few hours, so I sat down to wait. Some ‘life experience credits” were earned for observing an emergency room in rural Spain. Mostly, I saw kindness, and babies being helped.

Eventually, I was called in, and the doctor interviewed me. His English was non-existent, and surely my Spanish is worse, but once I took off my boot, he got the picture, had me lie down, and called the nurse.

The nurse yanked the moleskin, told me it wasn’t infected, and gave my blister a proper dressing. There was some pain involved in this process. Then she told me to stay off it until it stopped hurting, probably two or three days. Easier said than done in the circumstances. Once it stopped hurting when I walked, I was good to go.

Camino and Heather © Harold Davis

There’s obviously a disconnect between walking in immense pain and some of the scenes of tranquil beauty along the Camino. I’m not sure what to say about this, except that part of the point of the pilgrimage is to endure privation. In olden times, in one example, notables humbled themselves and climbed to the sanctuary at Rocamdour on their bloody knees. 

How this applies to me I cannot really say, and it is frustrating to be here in Ponferrada a few blocks from a mammoth Templar castle, and not really to be able to explore it (as the nurse told me, if I want this to heal, I must stay off it).

Life is sometimes very strange—with ironies that are unanticipated!

Dr Caligari’s House

The rooster crows at the break of day,

I have had my cafe au lait,

and I am on my way!

Hip, hip, hooray!

It’s true that I woke just before dawn to the crowing of a rooster, grabbed some coffee and toast, and headed out into the cool of the morning. You never know what you’ll find, and on this day I found (among other things) a twisted reflection of a house in a traffic mirror.

Dr Caligari’s House © Harold Davis

If you don’t recognize the Dr Caligari reference, click here.

Harold Davis Tulips Stamp Page

The USPS has created a page for my Tulip Pano stamp at This page has information about the stamp, the first day of issue, where to buy the stamp, and biographical info about the art director as well as yours truly!

Coming into Toulouse

Dreamlike, the landscape of France sped past at high speeds, as I viewed the earth from the windows of the TGV (the high speed train). Dreamlike in feeling, and what better time to create a soft composition of landscape and clouds using a bit of motion blur. Then onward to the bustle of Toulouse, and the hubbub of the nearly perpetual marketplace in the Place du Capitole (shown below from a window in my hotel).

Landscape © Harold Davis

Place du Capitole, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Also posted in France

Pantheon in Paris

Construction began on the Pantheon as a church for the patron saint of Paris, Saint Genevieve. As so often happens when there is construction there were delays, then more delays, then the revolution happened.

Saint Genevieve’s church was about half finished. Egalité was in the air, at least for a short while, and religion was out. So the idea became to transition the design from religious to a secular mausoleum for honored citizens. The architectural result was one part church, and one part based on the Pantheon in Rome.

Over the years the Pantheon bounced back and forth from religious to secular temple, with great folks interred including Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Emil Zola.

In the first image, I have pointed my camera at the domes of the Pantheon using a very wide angle lens (15mm). The next image (below), taken by my friend Julian Köpke, shows me making the first photo, along with some possible annotations to the issues of curvature in space and time. 

Pantheon © Harold Davis

Harold Davis photographing in the Pantheon © Julian Köpke


Gentle Adventures Are Us

As an inveterate traveler, I crave adventures. Not soul crushing desperate adventures, but life affirming, creative adventures. With this gentle style of adventuring, you come back having met many people, seen new things, and ready to view the world with fresh eyes.

Somewhere in Rural France © Harold Davis

So I am excited to leave for France next week, where I’ll spend a few days with friends in Paris. Then onward to the southwest of France, where I’ll spend some time with a wonderful group at the charming Mas de Garrigue

Next, I’ll spend a few weeks walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

My plan is to post on Instagram and Flickr, and to blog—of course, only as I am able, because in travel “being there” always come first. I might have experiences to experience! But if I can, I will bring you along with me, so you can see the world through my eyes.

Garden along the Camino © Harold Davis

Also posted in Writing

Really Singing

Over on my Instagram feed (@haroldldavis), I’ve been running through a series of what I’ve called “Retropolis” images: photographs from my past, usually ten years ago or more, that have really stuck with me. Some of this is personal preference. Some of it involves the process of iconization. In a long and productive career, which images really stick?

Even the greats—Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and so on—are primarily known for a handful of images. Admittedly, most of these iconic images are really special, but there is also randomness and chance involved. A great deal depends upon the vagaries of publication and distribution.

In this connection, I was pleased to find (and quote here) a remark of mine in the blog story associated with the first Retropolis I present here, Slot Canyon:  

It is easy to getting bogged down in the physics and physicality—the tyranny of the world of “things”—and forget to look for the ethereal magic that can make a photographic composition really sing.

Slot Canyon © Harold Davis

Cayucos Pier © Harold Davis

Cayucos Pier © Harold Davis

Night at Point Reyes Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Night at Point Reyes Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Chateau des Nazelles © Harold Davis

Chateau des Nazelles © Harold Davis

Here are the blog stories I originally posted related to these Retropolis images: Slot Canyon (2012); Cayucos Pier (2013); Night at Point Reyes Lighthouse (2007); and Chateau de Nazelles (2013).

As the old joke goes, enough about me: now, what do you think of me? If there are any specific images from my “back pages” that you think should be re-posted, I’d appreciate it if you let me know.

Also posted in Writing

Quantum Entanglement

Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the group cannot be described independently of the state of the others, including when the particles are separated by a large distance. [Source: Wikipedia.] In other words, group interaction at a distance! With no apparent connection! Over vast distances! Explaining quantum entanglement using classical mechanics seems impossible, which has lead to the field of quantum mechanics.

Quantum Entanglement © Harold Davis

The Quantum Entanglement series of images began as several frames photographed down on a light box from the inside of a parfait glass. I combined the frames (they were different exposures), composited the result with itself several times, and made a number of round trips into the phantasmagorical LAB color space. 

Quantum Entanglement 2 © Harold Davis

One thing worth noting about these images: there’s an optical illusion in the center, which appears to be an almost lenticular trompe l’oeil effect. This is particularly noticeable in an enlarged version of Quantum Entanglement 2.

Quantum Entanglement 3 © Harold Davis

Celebrating Beauty Where I Find It

Daffodils and Irises © Harold Davis

Dear Ones:

In our garden, the Iris and Freesia are flowering. The peony bush I planted last autumn has produced an enormous, platter-sized blossom. This is Paeonia ‘Morning Lilac’, an Itoh Peony—also called “Intersectional”. Itoh Peonies are hybrids between Tree Peonies and herbacious Peonies, with some of the best properties of each. This was not an easy hybridization, begun in the 1940s in Japan by Toichi Itoh. Only a few Itoh Peonies have recently made it into commerce.

It is spring in Berkeley, with the air redolent of the rich, fragrant California floral perfume that I smell nowhere else.

Of course, no matter where one lives, and however immersed one may be in horticulture and flower photography, one cannot ignore the events in the wide world. My heart bleeds for those whose lives are ruined or ended by the greed of autocrats and under the fascist boot. I would so like to see the forces of evil defeated, and humanity approach decision making with more thoughtfulness, gratitude, humility—and caring for others. In the meantime—I am generally an optimist, but I am not really holding my breath—I intend to live life to the fullest, and to celebrate beauty where and how I find it.

Professionally, this has been an exciting time for me. My new book, Composition & Photography: Working with photography using design concepts, is available as an eBook, with the actual “real” books to get here soon. The USPS stamps using my work are now available. And I am to be the 2022 Photographic Society of America (PSA) Progress Award winner.

Regarding the PSA Progress Award, this comes as a total surprise to me. I am so grateful, and certainly in good company, considering the previous annual award winners. Most of all, it means to me that people are “listening” to me—that I am seen. That my work is seen. I do not plan to “rest on my laurels.” This is not the end, it is only the beginning. Thank you PSA, so very much!

I am very excited to be leaving soon on extended travels. I’ll be meeting friends in Paris, then leading a small photography group in the southwest of France, then hiking on my own as a pilgrim on a portion of the Camino de Santiago (click here for a video discussing some of my previous Caminos).

Please consider joining me in August in Berkeley, California for Photographing Flowers for Transparency, in September in Maine for Composition and Photography, or in October for Off-the-Beaten-Track Japan. Click here for my 2022 Works & Events schedule.

I send my very best wishes in photography,

Harold Davis

Peony One © Harold Davis

First day of issue for my Tulip Pano and Sunflower Bouquet stamps

I am very excited to announce that today is the first day of issue for my Tulip Panorama “Forever” stamp, and also my Sunflower Bouquet stamp. Click here for the USPS press release for my Tulip Pano, and here for the press release for Sunflower Bouquet. To buy my stamps online, click here for the Tulip Pano, and here for the Sunflower Bouquet.

The note card set shown above includes both images as cards; you can order the set from the USPS by clicking here

First Day Covers are available for both my Tulip Pano and for the Sunflower Bouquet. Back in day, when I was a juvenile stamp collector, I don’t think they had these (I would have liked them!), but you can also order Digital Color Postmarks (Tulip Pano and Sunflower Bouquet).

Flower like a shell

I’ve been working on photographing a group of white Calla Lilies the past few days. With this image, I tried to abstract the flower so that it seemed almost like a shell, or perhaps the sensuous lines of fabric.

Calla Lily Study © Harold Davis

Also posted in Abstractions, Flowers, Monochrome

Available Materials

I’m a firm believer that you don’t need fancy materials to make an interesting photo. In that spirit I present a small structure created with the art materials to hand during a moderately lengthy bathroom break.

Untitled (TP construction) © Harold Davis

2022 PSA Progress Award

I am pleased and astounded to learn that I will be the 2022 recipient of the Photographic Society of America’s prestigious Progress Award. The annual Progress Award recognizes a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the progress of photography or an allied subject. Previous recipients include  Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Gordon Parks, Ken Burns, and numerous other heroes of mine. This is not something I expected in my life, and I am deeply grateful.

Sunflower Bouquet © Harold Davis

Composition & Photography: A Hands-On Workshop

What: Composition & Photography: A Hands-On Workshop with Harold Davis

Where: Maine Media Workshops + College in beautiful Rockport, Maine

When: Sept 12, 2022 – Sept 16, 2022

Click here for more information and registration.

Description: In this hands-on workshop we will approach composition as an instance of open-ended two-dimensional design. Photographic exercises will start with simple shapes, such as lines and circles, and proceed through patterns and repetitions, and onwards to spirals, fractals, and abstractions.

Field sessions will take advantage of the “target-rich” mid-coast Maine scenery. Classroom discussions will be intended to provoke thought about composition basics and continuing to enable individual integration of the process of composition into each participant’s creative practice.

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops