Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Gullfoss Rift

An unusual feature of the famous and spectacular Gullfoss waterfall is that the water flow makes an almost immediate 90 degree turn to the left at the bottom of the falls, down into the rift shown in the distance in this image.

It’s an almost surreal experience standing with one’s camera above the head of the turn of the flowing waters, trying to make an exposure through the intense, wind-blown spray, and enjoying the grandeur of the setting. 

Gullfoss Rift © Harold Davis

Also posted in Iceland, Landscape, Monochrome

Godafoss

Godafoss—“Waterfall of the Gods”—is one of the largest and most visited waterfalls in Iceland. It is shown here at sunset (maybe midnight at this time of year!) from above. The waterfall gets its name from Icelandic history around the time of conversion to Christianity. This was about 1000 CE when the AllThing (Iceland’s parliament) adopted Christianity by decree, and Pagan idols were thrown into the Godafoss. I think maybe some Pagan idols were kept, and the waterfall is just named for a Diety because it is so beautiful.

Godafoss © Harold Davis

This image is created from five exposures, with each exposure at 28mm, f/22, and ISO 64. The camera was tripod-mounted. Exposure times varied between 1/20 of a second and 0.8 seconds. The trick was to wait for a moment without spray hitting my camera lens!

Also posted in Iceland, Landscape

The Windows on the Beast

We call our bus on the Iceland circumnavigation “the Beast”—because the wheels are unimaginably high, the 4-wheel drive is potent, it bounces with a hard suspension, and it is red. A trip that involves bus travel means sitting on a bus, which at first glance can seem boring, but if you look out the window can prove magical, at least in Iceland.

These images were made out the windows of the Beast with my iPhone using the Slow Shutter Cam app, with the shutter speed duration set to 2 seconds, along the roads to the Highlands.

Bus Window 1 © Harold Davis

Bus Window 2 © Harold Davis

Bus Window 3 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Iceland, iPhone

Fire and Ice, Sunflowers and Poppy Pods

Candy Mountain Sunflower © Harold Davis

I’m off to Iceland in a few days, and very excited about the adventure. I do find that my packing and travel preparation jujitsu has somewhat atrophied over the pandemic year, and there is much to do before I leave. I think it is likely that my next blog story will be from Iceland—unless I am having too much fun to write!

Meanwhile, please consider our current workshop and live webinar options:

  • Out of Chicago Botanic: Flower & Garden Photography Conference, August 29 – September 2, 2021. In person, near the Chicago Botanic Garden. Click here for information and registration.
  • Photography on Black | Saturday November 20, 2021 at 11am PT click here for registration. Click here for more info. This is a live Zoom webinar. Both images accompanying this story were created using the techniques that this webinar will explain.

Dried Poppy Pods – Longitudinal and Latitudinal Slices © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Have you ever seen a poppy seed up really close and personal?

By way of background, check out Poppy Dancer and All Along the Watchtowers and the Papapver pod bouquet in Recent Images.

Looking at the close-up of the top of a Papaver pod in Crown of Papavers (below), I’d like to point a few things out. The ring of arches just below the “crown” is where fertilized poppy seeds come out once the pod is “ripe.” Somewhat like curtains, the “entrances” to the passages to the inside curl down. You can see these as curved pads below each opening.

The amazing part are the highly-magnified poppy seeds themselves. If you look at them closely (click the image on your computer to enlarge it, or use “haptic” motions on a phone or iPad to view the seeds more closely) you’ll see that these are not just the simple little black dots we associate with the poppy seed. At this intense magnification, they are patterned and almost honeycombed. There’s amazing detail and structure even in the smallest things in the natural world.

Crown of Papavers © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Poppy Dancer and All Along the Watchtowers

Lately, I’ve been photographing poppy pods, dried poppies from our garden. In a few instances, these remains-of-the-day poppies look like fantastic figurines, as in Poppy Dancer, immediately below. 

Poppy Dancer © Harold Davis

For me, this image of a dried poppy resembles a lithe dancer, in a tutu and with a hat. Ironically, I once used in-camera multiple exposures to photograph a human dancer with “poppy” in her name as a model.

Many of the poppy pods are architectural, in the way of sculpture or pottery, when you look at them highly magnified—architectural forms from nature, like those used by Antonin Gaudi. Or perhaps All Along the Watchtowers (below) most resembles a portion of a Southeast Asia Opium Warlord’s palace.

All Along the Watchtowers © Harold Davis

Gear and post-production stuff: I photographed on a velvet background using my Nikon D850 on a heavy-duty tripod. The lens was the Nikkor 200mm f/4 macro, with a 50mm Nikon PN-11 extension tube between the lens and camera. For the images that resembled architecture, the biggest problem was to angle the perspective so the viewer can see the “arcades” and “arches.” To help with this, I added a +4 close-up lens. 

Exposure and processing were using a sequence of low-key HDR captures, as explained in my webinar video recordings Photography on Black and The Blossfeldt Effect.

Also posted in Flowers

Recent Images

I’m pleased with my images from the last week or so, and am having trouble keeping up with my photography in post-production, and also as a blogger. But here are three of my recent images (below). There’s just so much going on the real world and with family…

On the Workshop front, the early-bird discount on Photography Flowers for Transparency ends soon. And, I’m off to Iceland for photography in two weeks!

Papaver Pods © Harold Davis

I never promised you a rose garden © Harold Davis

Gaillardia © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Workshops

The Blossfeldt Effect webinar video recording

We’ve posted The Blossfeldt Effect video webinar recording. Here’s the description:

In this unique and creative webinar, Harold starts with a look at the characteristics of a Blossfeldian composition. What kinds of subjects did Blossfeldt choose to photograph, and why? What makes a particular botanical specimen visually exciting?

Next, Harold explores two possible places to start with Blossfeldian botanical compositions: the black background and the light box.

To cap it off, Harold demonstrates how he processes his Blossfeldt-like images using some surprisingly simple yet tricky steps.

I think you’ll enjoy this one, it is one of our best!

Click here for The Blossfeldt Effect video, here for a catalog listing of our video webinar recordings, here for my YouTube channel, and here for upcoming Workshops & Events.

California Live Oak © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Workshops

A white poppy and a mandala

White Poppy © Harold Davis

Please keep in mind our in-person Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop the weekend of September 25-26 located in Berkeley, California. There’s a $200 early-bird discount until the end of June. Click here for more information.

Full Nelson (Mandala) Black version © Harold Davis

Full Nelson (Mandala) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Some blasts from the past!

Saigon Fine Art Museum Stair (Down) © Harold Davis

Museum Stair, Saigon © Harold Davis

Some blasts from the past: A back staircase in the Fine Arts Museum in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, 2017) above;  geometric patterns in the arches, shadows, reflections of the Pont Valentré, spanning the Lot River (Cahors, France, 2018). 

Geometry © Harold Davis

The Blossfeldt Effect Webinar coming up on Saturday June 12

Karl Blossfeldt (1866-1932) began his career at a decorative ironwork manufacturer. He was assigned the task of creating reference botanical photographs to use for wrought iron designs. Eventually, his iconic botanical images became celebrated in their own right, and today he is known as one of history’s foremost botanical photographers.

I’ve long been fascinated by Blossfeldt’s botanical imagery and have developed a set of techniques for emulating the beautiful photographs of this master.

Some of my work in homage to Blossfeldt has even been mistaken for the real thing on a certain art consolidation website that shall not be named!

You can check out a portfolio of my (genuine, authorized Harold Davis) prints after Blossfeldt on Saatchi Art

Click here to read more, and here to register for this webinar!

Queen Anne's Lace © Harold Davis

Queen Anne’s Lace © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Workshops

Some flowers from our garden

The Way Things Were © Harold Davis

Papaver rhoeas © Harold Davis

Click here for our upcoming (September) Photographing Flowers for Transparency in-person workshop!

Also posted in Flowers

Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Early-bird discount of $200 applies through June

I am beyond delighted to announce an in-person Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop here in Berkeley, California towards the end of September, 2021. This is always an incredibly festive occasion, with the workshop room decked out in myriad flowers. It’s great working through the process, and helping folks get over the bumps. We always have a fun time enjoying botanicals with like minded folks, learning together and making translucent floral images, and investigating LAB color. 

This year, we’re adding an included bonus feature: a Zoom follow-up so participants can show their work, and get help with any issues. We want you to learn!

Note that an early-bird tuition discount of $200 applies through June 30, 2021.

Click here for complete information including the curriculum. To register, visit the listing on Meetup to register using Paypal (RSVP YES, and pay the discounted tuition using any credit card), or contact us for direct registration by check or credit card. Please do contact us if you need help with registration, or have any questions.

Mass Delusions of Poppies © Harold Davis

Here’s part of the workshop description: Harold Davis is well-known for his often imitated—but seldom equaled—digital images of luscious transparent and translucent flowers.

In this unique workshop offering, Harold Davis shows the techniques he uses to create his floral masterpieces. Arrangement, composition, photography, post-production will all be covered, as will Harold’s special techniques for shooting on a light box.

There is no better way to learn the floral transparency techniques that Harold Davis has pioneered. The multi-day format will give participants the chance to complete their imagery using the techniques that Harold will demonstrate, with input and help from “the master”. We will follow up with an online Zoom session for further critique and help with work.

Click here to learn more and for the curriculum!

Also posted in Workshops

Long Exposure Waves

Now that things are opening up, I’ve been thinking about giving a long exposure waves workshop again. It’s been several years since I’ve given this workshop in person and with an ocean at hand.

The idea behind this technique is that with the camera on a tripod even the most violent action of the ocean can be stilled. The results can be an abstraction. Depending on the length of the exposure, the effect can be fairly subtle and attractive, or with really long exposures produce imagery that seems like fields of color. I think this kind of work is great, but it does take some know-how and a great deal of patience to pull-off successfully.

Long Exposure Wave Study 2 © Harold Davis

To make Long Exposure Wave Study 2, shown above, with my camera on a tripod, I added a +4 neutral density filter and a circular polarizer to the front of my lens, and exposed for five minutes at f/29 and ISO 31.

In a Blue Hour, shown below, is a shorter duration exposure. Once again, I had the camera on a tripod and used a polarizer. I exposed for 10 seconds at f/29 and ISO 200.

In a Blue Hour © Harold Davis

My conception of a new, improved Long Exposure Waves workshop is a hybrid format, with an introduction and technical preparation session held over Zoom, followed by a week later an actual in-person session at a photography-friendly beach. We’d follow up after the live session a week or so later on Zoom to review images and discuss technical issues that came up.

Anyhow, in terms of my calendar, I haven’t been able to schedule this workshop yet. There’s just been too much on my plate between family, travel, and existing commitments. But, when I can I will put it on our calendar—you can keep an eye out for it on my Workshops & Events page!

Also posted in Point Reyes, Workshops

Save the Last Dance

For this image, I framed essentially a portrait view of the mallow (upper left) and the poppy (along the right, purple and red).

For some reason, the Save the Last Dance song, melody and lyrics, went through my head as I composed and honed the image. So I used the song as the name for my image. Perhaps the poppy is addressing the mallow? Flowers are so ephemeral.

Save the Last Dance for Me © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers