Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Anthers in Love

Sometimes it is fun to get lost in the worlds of macro photography. Even the somewhat commonplace can become a different and intriguing universe. As in this conventionally lit, extreme close-up image of the anthers of an Asiatic Lily covered in pollen.

Anthers in Love © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Through a Glass Lightly

The last few years have been traveling years for me. This means time in restaurants. Sometimes alone. Waiting for food. Or with a crowd out eating, but alone inside. Either way, what better time to play with photography and glassware? Here are some of my favorites…

After a long day walking the Camino, I stopped at a small hamlet for a meal and bed. Watching the trees from the perspective of a glass of wine I felt I was in touch with a holistic sense of the world, and that everything would be integrated and alright:

Trees and Wine © Harold Davis

In a French brasserie they take their glassware and bottles seriously. I got up from my culinary meditation over an excellent cassoulet and photographed these blue bottles at the bar:

Blue Bottles © Harold Davis

Blue or green, what’s in a color? Apparently, this depends on the shadows against a stucco wall:

Green Bottle © Harold Davis

Bottles come in ones and twos, and perhaps the Pepper Shaker enjoys a colloquy with the water bottle in this Maine waterfront restaurant:

Two in a Bar © Harold Davis

Across the spectrum red is possible as well as blues and greens at this informal place in Paris:

Carafe at Lunch © Harold Davis

Sometimes the cutlery likes to get into the game, and the spoon is reflected in a polished, reflective carafe in Germany:

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

It’s a short leap from spoons refracted in a reflection to a place setting reflected in a napkin holder at a roadside rest in Portugal:

Napkin Holder © Harold Davis

Other times things can get rowdy as when I lined up these glasses at an end-of-workshop party in Heidelberg:

Wine Glasses at a Dinner Party © Harold Davis

I photographed this glass and carafe in a cafe on the main square of Monpazier, one of Acquitaine’s signature bastides (you can see the covered market structure through the open doors):

Monpazier Cafe © Harold Davis

Neither white nor red, but definitely a good watercolor subject:

Rosé © Harold Davis

At a romantic, candle-lit restaurant in Germany I made an abstraction of a candle refracted in a drinking glass. The glass was green and held some kind of fancy drink. The shape of the green glass occupies the right side of the image:

Glass and Candle © Harold Davis

In the historic Ferry Building, in downtown San Francisco:

Glasses © Harold Davis

Waiting for service in a restaurant near Valletta, Malta:

Maltese Cross © Harold Davis

Paint-it-darker patterns and magnification with a beaded placemat in a casual Dordogne restaurant in Brantome, France:

Glass on a Placemat © Harold Davis

In Bourges, France, I was primarily interested in the differing way the shadow from my glass fell on the table cloth as opposed to the way the shadow fell on the wood of the table itself. The bright, curved lines within the shadow are created by bright reflections off the water in the wine glass, but they aren’t quite aligned at the borders of the cloth and wood, due to the differing refractive qualities of the two surfaces:

Shadow of the Glass © Harold Davis

A different phenomenon of light and shadow is to be found in this glass of wine, with the sunlight coming through an awning in Varenna, Italy, where I was enjoying a late lunch beside the Lago di Como with my good friend Mauro:

Eye of Sauron in his Cups © Harold Davis

No matter where you are, and what you are doing, you can always find interesting visual subjects, things to photograph, and ways to make art. Olé!

Also posted in iPhone

Solar Flare

Here’s the latest in my series of mandala images on a light box, this one with petals circling around a sunflower. The outer ring consists of “stars” from a flowering jade bush in my garden.

Here are some other “targets” or “mandalas”: Studies in Petals; Petal Fractals; Floral Mandala; Petals; and A Simple Twist of Fate.

Over time this has become a body of work, a ding an sich (“thing in-and-of-itself”). This seems to happen when I start working in a new direction. The direction becomes a genre—one that I revisit periodically.

It would be nice to see these, perhaps printed for display on their own light boxes, together in one exhibition.

Solar Flare on Paper © Harold Davis

Solar Flare on White © Harold Davis

Solar Flare on Black © Harold Davis

Tulip Petal Detail after Karl Blossfeldt

Who knew that tulip stems could curl symmetrically with four looping branches? When I saw this, it reminded me of some of the flora photographed by Karl Blossfeldt. Blossfeldt’s original purpose was to present plant-world designs that could be used for ornamental architecture and ironwork, but of course his work has long since been recognized as far more profound than decorative.

I used a macro lens to capture the tulip petal detail, and used a post-production recipe that I had scripted this spring to simulate (or emulate) the look-and-feel of a Blossfeldt plate.

Tulip Petal Detail after Blossfeldt © Harold Davis

Some other images of mine that offer homage to Karl Blossfeldt: Decorative Grasses; Queen Anne’s Lace and Crassula ovata (both shown below).

Queen Anne’s Lace © Harold Davis

Crassula ovata © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Two from the iPhone files

Dogwood Flowers in a Bowl and Poppies and Echinaceas were both photographed with my iPhone camera. These were arrangements that were “collateral damage” to having flowers around from my garden and also cut from a flowering dogwood tree (see Garden Flowers with Dogwood). After photographing high-key bracketed exposures with my D850 on a tripod, I couldn’t resist also making a few quick iPhone shots shown here. Sometimes work thrown off casually just for fun stands up on its own!

Dogwood Flowers in a Bowl © Harold Davis

Both images were tweaked in Snapseed on my iPhone, then processed using the Antique Oil Painting Filter in the Photo Lab Pro app.

Poppies and Echinaceas © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, iPhone

Garden Flowers with Dogwood

This pair of images consists of a light box composition on white, and its LAB L-channel inversion on black. My thoughts are turning to Photographing Flowers for Transparency, as I am teaching my techniques this coming weekend.

Incidentally, if you can’t make the workshop this weekend, we’ve listed the 2019 Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop. It’s scheduled for the weekend of June 22-23, 2019 in Berkeley, California—and is now open for registration. Click here for more information and registration via Meetup.

Garden Flowers with Dogwood © Harold Davis

Garden Flowers with Dogwood (Inversion) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

The Passion of the Rose

For me, photography is about passion, vision, and seeing the world closely. Oh, I could give you some technical information about how this image was made. For example, I could explain that I used a telephoto macro lens and an extension tube, that I focus stacked, and that the rose was lit obliquely by late afternoon sun through a window.

The Passion of the Rose © Harold Davis

But beyond a certain point, who but specialists and practitioners really cares about this kind of thing? Does anyone much care what brush a painter like Georgia O’Keeffe used? We care about the raw seeing, the passion and the romance, and the feeling that the image arouses within. As we should. This is the stuff that matters.

Related image: Kiss from a Rose, shown on my blog here and here.

Also posted in Flowers

White Daemon Series

The idea of this series of photos, created in collaboration with the model A Nude Muse, was to create images that were simultaneously attractive, eerie, uncanny, and otherworldly.  Ignoring the Picasso-like displacement of body parts, the figure portrayed was to have one foot in this world, and one foot in another world—or perhaps some realm that is the realm of unearthly beings. Who knows what she can see of the future, or whether she is good or evil, or what the future brings. 

White Daemon III © Harold Davis

White Daemon II © Harold Davis

White Daemon 1 © Harold Davis

White Daemon IV © Harold Davis

The technique I employed was to use a series of 8-10 in-camera multiple exposures using strobe lighting for each exposure. The camera did the combination of the imagery. For several reasons, one of which is that one can see instant results in the camera, this works better for this kind of image than photographing individual exposures, and later combining them in Photoshop. We used a white lace nightgown and a white lace scarf to add the dominant “spirit walker” theme to the model; her impact and affect in these images varies from Madonna to Bride to Succubus to Cassandra to a visitation from Death.

Model credit: A Nude Muse. Related images: See my Multiple Exposures series. If you get the chance, please let me know what you think by adding a comment, or via email.

Also posted in Models, Multiple Exposures

Poppies Dancing on Black

This image is an LAB inversion of the L-channel of Poppies Dancing, with blacks and white interchanged.

Poppies Dancing Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Photograms

Visit Paris in the Spring with a small group of Photographers

Visit Paris in the Spring with a small group of photographers. Early-bird discount applies. Click here for more information.

Also posted in Workshops

Vegetarian Homage to Anthony Bourdain

This is a breakfast avocado burrito that Phyllis made for Nicky, who is a vegetarian. Hopefully, Anthony Bourdain, who very sadly died yesterday, was quoted in his Washington Post obituary as having said (tongue-in-cheek): “Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food”  would make an exception for Nicky and Phyllis’s avocado burrito (which someone told me looks more like a crab anyhow).

Avocado Burrito © Harold Davis

Mordant wit being one of his fortes, Bourdain went on to say that even worse than the vegetarians, from a cook’s point of view, were the “Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans.”

Poppies Dancing

In the great light of the world flowers are creatures too, and love to sway and dance in the breeze. In extraordinary beauty there is humor and escape from the mundane of this world. With grief for Anthony Bourdain, a hero of mine: as someone who travels a great deal for creative work I can understand why it might have contributed to his feelings of dislocation and sadness. These flowers are for him.

Poppies Dancing © Harold Davis

Papaver © Harold Davis

Kissy Face :-X © Harold Davis

Anthropomorphization of flower arrangements is now a thing: Flower Car; Friendly Sky Dragon; Flying Dragon Study; Yum; Poppy Snake; Wet Poppy Bud. Well, for the most part these collages are not actually anthropomorphic—although there is a face or two. If you know the right word, please add a comment or drop me an email. Thanks.

Also posted in Flowers

Relaxation in Rural France

Somewhere in Rural France © Harold Davis

Down the path to the Lot River from the Mas de Garrigue are a few rural homes on the bluff. I could easily imagine sitting here, perhaps reading a good book slowly, snacking on Pâté de Campagne, and sipping some nice local wine.

Also posted in France

Petals on Parade

This is one of the light box compositions I’ve made using the glorious spring weather in northern California since I’ve been home from Spain!

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Summer Grass

In the traffic island in the middle of our Morning Glory Circle, as spring turns to summer the grass is drying and turning a California brown. I cut and carefully arranged a few stalks on my light box, and used LAB inversion to add a black background.

Before I had left for my Camino, I started photographing grasses and “weeds”—I think this has become a whole, interesting sub-genre for me. After all, it is the wise botanical artist who knows the distinction between flower and weed is somewhat arbitrary, and in the eye of the beholder. The less-well regarded weed can often surpass in structural interest the hoity-toity flower.

Summer Grass © Harold Davis

More images of grasses and such: Oxalis; Street Grasses; Decorative Grass; Blades of Grass; no real flowers need apply!

Also posted in Monochrome, Photograms