Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Special Snowflake

Gaillardia Seed Pod – LAB Inversion © Harold Davis

No, this is not really a snowflake at all. It’s a macro photo of the seed pod of a Gaillardia (“blanket flower”) [below] and the all 3-channels LAB inversion of the seed pod [above].

But I find myself intrigued that the term “special snowflake” has become one of political opprobrium, particularly when addressed from the radical right towards a sensitive liberal. Yes, I love snowflakes in their amazing crystalline structures, and isn’t it wonderful that each and every one is different. It’s hard not to admire the miraculous wonder of nature when you look closely at snowflakes, or even when you just watch the snow fall.

What a peculiar insult it is, as it is actually quite a compliment.

So call me a Special Snowflake. I won’t mind at all!

Gaillardia Seed Pod © Harold Davis

Ladybird Poppy

Yesterday was a cool Father’s Day. I woke to freshly brewed coffee and cards from the kids. Then I went with Phyllis, my own wonder woman, to see the new Wonder Woman movie in 3-D. When we got home, this Ladybird Poppy from our garden had a new blossom, and I photographed it while listening to the Beatles. 

Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’ © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

This Father Gives Thanks

On this Father’s Day, I want to give thanks for the miracle that is Katie Rose, and for all my kids. Thanks for my family. And thanks to all fathers who are there for their kids!

Katie Rose at about two months © Harold Davis

Katie Rose is Nine © Harold Davis

Son Doong Cave

The interior landscape of Son Doong Cave is ethereal and fantastic. Keep in mind that this mystical landscape is cloaked in darkness. The camera sees far more than the naked eye.

Son Doong Cave © Harold Davis


Parting of the Veil © Harold Davis


Entrance to the Secret Valley © Harold Davis

Also posted in Landscape, Vietnam

Shameless Quote Department

“Harold Davis is the digital black and white equal of Ansel Adams’s traditional wet photography. Adams would be awed by Davis’s work. In The Photographer’s Black and White Handbook Davis presents a large number of his photographs, and virtually every one is a masterpiece, ready for gallery or museum exhibit.”Seattle Book Review, rated five out of five stars and cross-posted in the San Francisco Book Review

Click here for more “Shameless Quotes”, click here for monochromatic (black & white) images on my blog, and here for current workshop offerings.

White River Falls, Oregon © Harold Davis

Also posted in Writing

The Amazing World of Flowers

One of the things I love most about flower photography is that it compels one to look closely at flowers. The more you look, the more you see! What a wild world of beauty and diversity, with shapes, colors, forms that rival the world at large in light, rhythm, variety, harmony, and tumult.

Flower Petals © Harold Davis

Related story: Recent Flower Photos.

Rose Central © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Recent Flower Photos

I’m happy to take advantage of the wonderful spring flowers this year here in California, and make up for the time I was traveling with some extensive flower photography! Here are some flower images from the past few days, with more to come. Yay! I love flower photography.

Please keep in mind two upcoming flower photography workshops I will be giving: In Berkeley, CA Thursday June 22 – Sunday June 25 and in Rockport, Maine Sunday July 31 – Saturday August 5. Click here for my upcoming Workshops & Events calendar.

With a couple of these images (like the flower globes immediately below) to get the idea you really need to click the image to view it larger!

Great Balls of Flowers © Harold Davis

Dark Star © Harold Davis

Flower Power (via iPhone capture) © Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies – Variation I © Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies – Variation II © Harold Davis

Tower of Flowers © Harold Davis

May Flowers on Black © Harold Davis

Flowers for Luis (via iPhone capture) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Upcoming Flower Photography Workshop—A Few Spaces Available—Other Updates

We have only a few spaces open in my upcoming Flower Photography Intensive 4-Day Workshop here In Berkeley California coming next month, June 22-25, 2017. This will be a great time photographing flowers in the field, on the studio, on the light box, and exploring the ins-and-outs of my “special sauce” post-production techniques.

I have a version of this workshop I’ll be leading the first week in August at Maine Media Workshops but otherwise I will not be scheduling Flowers for Transparency again for a long while (at least in the United States), probably not until well into 2018 or 2019. So if my techniques interest you, please take advantage of these opportunities, strategically located on each of the two coasts!

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Please also note three other scheduled workshops that still have openings:

Save the Dates: You may also be interested the continuation of my series of webinars for Topaz Labs, scheduled for Tuesday June 6, 2017 at 2PM. If you are a local photographer, I’d like to invite you to save Thursday November 9, 2017 for the opening of my exhibition at Shoh Gallery here in Berkeley, CA. As always, you can track what I am up to on my Works & Events page and in the Photography with Harold Davis Meetup!

My new book: The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook, has been receiving good reviews from readers and press such as Library Journal, Midwest Review, Popular Photography, and Rangefinder. Click here for my book on Amazon. For your reference, my Author Page on Amazon with info about many of my books and more is and, if you are interested, here is my biography as a photographer and writer on Wikipedia

Recent YouTube Videos: As part of the publicity for the book launch I recorded a number of live events, which you may be interested to view on YouTube:

Best wishes to all in photography and creativity!

Harold Davis

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis


Brantome (via iPhone) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Home is Best…with Flower Photography

As the saying goes, “You may travel east, you may travel west, but in your heart you know home is best!” In the past two months, I have traveled east (Vietnam), and I have traveled west (France and Malta)—although arguably since the earth is a globe every place is west of California. Or east.

In any case, it is good to be home, particularly when spring and the flowers are so much in bloom as they are in Berkeley, California. I was home in time for Katie Rose’s birthday, and am enjoying spending some time with Phyllis and the kids, and recharging my batteries.

Gladiolas and Campanulas © Harold Davis

In this image, the gladiolas are from Trader Joe’s and the bellflowers (campanulas) from our garden. I used seven exposures with my D810 and Zeiss Otus 55mm/1.4 on a tripod over a light box. The exposures were all at ISO 64 and f/16, and ranged from 1/30 of a second to 4 seconds. I combined the exposures in Photoshop, and added them to a scanned background, using techniques that I explain in my workshops.

Enthusiastic about flower photography? You might want to consider joining us here in Berkeley, Ca next month for a joyous flower photography time where I will share my secret sauce techniques for transparent flower photography and beyond (we still have a few spaces left)!

Also note that I will be teaching related flower photography techniques this year at Maine Media Workshops the first week in August.

Also posted in Flowers, Workshops

Pear (or Pair)

Good to be home to a land of lush florals and fruit supreme, always with anthropomorphic potential. Taking a little time to be laid back, while Phyllis and I consider our plans for the second half of 2017 and 2018. The pair, er pear, below photographed with my 50mm f/2 Zeiss macro, the fiddlehead fern (bottom) is an iPhone image made at Berkeley Bowl.

Pear © Harold Davis


Fiddling © Harold Davis

Related image: Red Pepper.

Center of Soller

This is a color and a black & white version of the center of the town of Soller, Mallorca, Spain, seen from high up on the roof of the hotel at sunset and photographed at a telephoto focal length!


Downtown Soller, Mallorca, Spain (color) © Harold Davis


Downtown Soller, Mallorca, Spain (black & white) © Harold Davis

Downtown Soller, Mallorca, Spain (black & white) © Harold Davis

Window and Door

Window © Harold Davis

Window © Harold Davis

Always nice to photograph interesting windows and doors. Window (above) photographed in the back streets of St Emilion, France. Door (below) an iPhone capture in Bordeilles, with the Waterlogue version layered over the original and masked in on the wall (but not the door) using the Leanardo app.

Door © Harold Davis

Door © Harold Davis

Also posted in France

iPhone Workflow in Brantome

Brantome Abbey © Harold Davis

Brantome Abbey © Harold Davis

To make these images of Brantome Abbey (above) and the so-called “dog-leg” bridge in Brantome (“dog-leg” because there is a 90 degree bend in its crossing of the Dronne River, below)), I started by using the Camera app to make two exposures of each subject, one darker and one lighter. 

Next, I combined the two exposures by using True HDR to blend and align the differently exposed image sets. 

Taking the blended image, I ran it through Waterlogue to create a watercolor effect. I dialed back the watercolor effect by using ImageBlender to combine the Waterlogue version with the pre-Waterlogue original.

Dog-Leg Bridge, Brantome © Harold Davis

Dog-Leg Bridge, Brantome © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, iPhone

Le Moulin de l’Abbaye

This is Le Moulin de l’Abbaye, the mill of the Abbey, and the hotel we will be based in Brantome, France for exploring the Dordogne countryside.

Le Moulin de l'Abbaye © Harold Davis

Le Moulin de l’Abbaye © Harold Davis

Two different interpretations! Above: 28mm, 4 exposures at shutter speeds from 1.5 seconds to 8 seconds, each exposure at f/22 and ISO 50; tripod mounted; processed in Photoshop. Below: iPhone 6s, processed in Waterlogue.

Le Moulin de l'Abbaye (iPhone) © Harold Davis

Le Moulin de l’Abbaye (iPhone) © Harold Davis

Also posted in France, Landscape

Regarding Scale and Wonderment

There’s something very tricky about creating images that capture a truly vast wonder of the world such as the Grand Canyon or the Son Doong Cave. The sense of scale is literally mind-boggling, so it is very hard to make a photo that allows the viewer to take in what is being portrayed; and, even if it can be taken in, it is hard to convey the emotional content of the scene when viewing it “for real”.

Scale and Wonderment © Harold Davis

Scale and Wonderment © Harold Davis

The typical way to deal with this scale problem is to forget about the wonderment. If you throw some people into the mix, the scale of the phenomena becomes visually obvious. Unfortunately, the resulting images are banal, commonplace, and usually look like travel brochure ads. 

My goal is to go for the wonderment and the sense of the spiritual. Although this image uses human scaling to some extent (if you look closely you can see the tents of our expedition, and the porters around their kitchen) the proportions and scaling would work without the human element. With or without the tents, this is an image that requires careful visual analysis to discern the clouds far below (the cave generates its own weather system) and the sizing of the distant mountains, valleys, opening to the sky, and other topographic features.

Also posted in Landscape, Vietnam