Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

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

Portals

Son Doong Cave—Wind River Cave—is located in the impenetrable mountainous jungles along the old Ho Chi Minh trail on the Vietnamese side of the Vietnam-Laos border. To get to the cave, you have to slog down a jungle mountainside, up a river bed, then through another vast cave. The exit on the far side of this first cave opens on the otherwise inaccessible valley that is the starting point for entering the Son Doong Cave. We were told by our expedition leader that fewer people have been to Son Doong than have been to space.

Portals © Harold Davis

Portals © Harold Davis

Within the cave, there are vast areas open to the jungle above. These never scaled heights let in shafts of light, unusual flora, and the occasional monkey descending on vines.

To get the picture, think one part Avatar, one part the glittering caves of Aglarond from the Lord of the Rings, one part Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan of the Apes (the original books, not any of the film versions)—with an added pinch of Eustace’s adventures on the Dragon Island in the third book of the Narnia series.

Also posted in Landscape, Vietnam

Long Bien Bridge

The Long Bien Bridge stretches across the Red River from Hanoi, Vietnam. It is a cantilevered iron structure designed in the studio of Gustav Eiffel. Strategically important because it connects the port of Haiphong with Hanoi, it was extensively bombed during the US-Vietnamese war.

© Harold Davis

Long Bien Bridge © Harold Davis

Exploring Hanoi with my friend Eric, we decided to try to walk across the Long Bien Bridge, which today is used as a train bridge, with two side walkways that are the domain of the ever-present motor cycles. Crossing the bridge didn’t seem very safe for a mere pedestrian, but it was fun photographing the “distant light” through the train portion of the bridge.

Also posted in Vietnam

Martin Then and Now

This is a photo of my wonderful father Martin Davis that I recently scanned and retouched to restore some damage. Martin thinks it was taken when he was sixteen and had just graduated from the Bronx High School of Science.

Martin Davis.b

That was then, and this is now: although you can see that Martin’s spirit remains strong and shines through. Recently we had my parents over to celebrate Martin’s 89th birthday. In the iPhone capture below, he has just opened a gag birthday gift that my son Nicholas picked out (Nicky has a wicked sense of humor!).

Martins 89 Birthday

Also posted in Writing

Reflections in The Pond, Central Park

Walking south from Bethesda Fountain to get to my dinner appointment on West 57th Street, I stopped by a body of water at the southeast corner of Central Park to enjoy a few minutes of tranquility, and to get centered before I met a representative from the publisher of The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook. Alas, tranquility was not to be.

Reflections in The Pond, Central Park © Harold Davis

Reflections in The Pond, Central Park © Harold Davis

I climbed out on a rocky peninsula, and started getting my tripod set up. At that moment there was a huge urban caterwauling of emergency vehicle sirens. I never learned what the fuss was about, but the red lights across Central Park South added to my color palette during my longish (thirty second) exposure. The morals: One person’s firetruck is another person’s aesthetic element; and, quietness is a rare commodity in a major metropolis!

Also posted in New York

Harold Davis Presents Photographing Flowers for Transparency at School of Visual Arts Masters in Digital Photography

I’m pleased to share with you my presentation on Photographing Flowers for Transparency at New York’s School of Visual Arts in the Masters in Digital Photography program. Enjoy!

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

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 Monochrome

Finding Interesting Photos at Home

In recent years I’ve seen much of the world. All this traveling has led to photography of some very beautiful and interesting places. So when I show my work, not infrequently I get the reaction, “Harold, this is all very well and good, but I can’t afford to pack up and go to the places you go.”

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Yes, travel is fun, and can put one’s camera in front of some very photogenic things. But, more importantly, I think one of the primary benefits of travel is to teach one about the wonderful world we live in and its peoples. Also, interestingly, travel can teach one about oneself.

So I recommend photographic travel highly, but by no means is it necessary for the creation of exciting imagery. A case in point: the onion growing green shown about came right out of our fridge. It’s growing and twisting and changing into something else, a process that is familiar to all living things. Hence I have called the photo Metamorphosis, which refers to a change from one state of being (the onion) to another (the green shoots).

Building Reflections

On my recent trip, I stayed in New York in the belly of the beast, in a nice Eurostyle hotel at the corner of Tenth Ave and 42nd Street. Literally scores of fifty and sixty story high-rises are going up all over that neighborhood, and the New York I grew up in is close to unrecognizable. Can there really be enough New Yorkers with enough money to populate these opulent rental buildings that are coming on line, many with mirrored windows (as in this iPhone shot) or other interesting architectural features? I wonders, I does.

Building Reflections © Harold Davis

Building Reflections © Harold Davis

About the image: Captured using the Camera app on my iPhone 6s, and fairly minimally processed using the Snapseed, Mextures, and DistressedFX apps.

Also posted in iPhone, New York

Oculus

The dictionary says that oculus is a fancy term for a round, eyelike opening. The term has been borrowed for a system of virtual reality headsets, and I have photographed a rock formation called the Oculus in Antelope Canyon. In New York City, the Oculus is the architectural sculpture above a transportation hub near the World Trade Center, designed by Santiago Calatrava, and shown here in all its eyelike glory!

© Harold Davis

Oculus © Harold Davis

Also posted in New York

On the Brooklyn Bridge

Today I guest-hosted an informal Meetup of New York photographers. We gathered at the bridge tower on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge. There was a great deal of talk about photography, many nice people, and I answered all the questions I could. The sunset looked to be unpromising, but as you can see it had its moments.

© Harold Davis

On the Brooklyn Bridge © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, 16mm fisheye, three blended exposures, each at shutter speeds of 8 seconds and ISO 64; f/8, f/11, and f/14; tripod mounted. Processed in ACR and Photoshop.

Also posted in Digital Night, New York

Free Upcoming Events with Harold Davis in New York City

© Harold Davis

East River © Harold Davis

I will be in New York City for a brief trip from Monday February 20 until Friday February 24, 2017 in honor of the publication of my new book The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook.

Bethesda Fountain © Harold Davis

Bethesda Fountain © Harold Davis

I will be presenting at the following events, which are free and open to the public:

  • Digital Black & White: Vision and Craft — B&H Event Space, 420 Ninth Ave, Monday Feb 20 from 1-3PM; pre-registration is strongly suggested — click here to register.
  • Photographing Flowers for Transparency — School of Visual Arts, 131 West 21st Street, Room 101c; Tuesday Feb 21 from 4-6PM — click here for more information.
  • Photograph the Brooklyn Bridge Meetup — Brooklyn-side tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, Wednesday Feb 22 starting at 4PM — This is an informal walk-and-talk Meetup, click here for more information.

If you are in the New York, I’d love to say Hi at one of these events!

Ghosts of Grand Central © Harold Davis

Ghosts of Grand Central © Harold Davis

 

Storm in the Upper Harbor © Harold Davis

Storm in the Upper Harbor © Harold Davis

Hellebore

In my garden in the rain the hellebores are in bloom. These lovely bell shaped flowers face downward in nature in a wide variety of colors and internal configurations.

Hellebore © Harold Davis

Hellebore © Harold Davis

It’s calming to photograph flowers and to realize that nature carries on. Flora worries on a different time scale about some of the things that make us fauna unhappy. These flowers have naturally selected for beauty, and there are worse things.

More Hellebores!

Also posted in Flowers

Dark of the Moon Night Photography Workshop in the Eastern Sierras (Oct 2017)

Alabama Hills Star Trails © Harold Davis

Alabama Hills Star Trails © Harold Davis

Dark of the Moon Night Photography in the Eastern Sierra

Three nights; arriving Friday, October 20, 2017 and departing Monday, October 23, 2017

***Some participants may choose to arrive late and/or depart early, if necessary for work-related reasons.

Where: Locations in and around Lone Pine, CA (details provided to registrants closer to the date of the workshop)

Group size: Limited to 12 participants.

Tuition: $675 until March 10, 2017; $725 thereafter.

Registration: Click here to register via Meetup.com or contact us for direct registration. It’s free to join the Photography with Harold Davis Meetup, and members can register with a YES RSVP.

Join award-winning photographer Harold Davis, author of the bestselling Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), for a once in a lifetime adventure practicing night photography in the rugged and beautiful Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. 

The workshop is timed to coincide with the low-light phases of the moon to maximize the possibilities of combining star circle photography with imagery of the incredible landscape. Harold and his associates will help with the technical aspects of field night photography, and post-production of night imagery.

The workshop will be based in Lone Pine, California (please contact us for a recommended list of hotels in Lone Pine). Our primary field location will be the fantastic Alabama Hills, located only a few miles from Lone Pine. Note that lodging, meals, and transportation are not included in the workshop tuition.

During the day, we will take advantage of the unique workshop location for photography. Several photographic field sessions will explore the waterfalls below Mount Whitney and the rugged country to the east of Lone Pine. Side trips to Manazar and the Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains are also a possibility, depending on group inclinations and weather conditions. Sunrise photography on Saturday and Sunday is also a possibility, depending on conditions and group desires.

Stars My Destination © Harold Davis

Stars My Destination © Harold Davis

Classroom demonstrations will cover use of an intervalometer (interval timer), minimizing noise in long exposures, safety at night, post-processing night photos, and much more.

Curriculum

Friday, October 20, 2017:

4PM Meet in Lone Pine
4-5PM    Orientation, night safety, night photography overview
6PM Carpool to locations in Alabama Hills, Sunset & night photography

Saturday, October 21, 2017

possible early morning shoot

9-10AM Breakfast

10-12:00 Classroom: Night Photo presentation, previous night’s shoot, interval shooting
12:00-12:45PM Lunch
1PM-3:00PM Field session (Whitney Portal, or to be determined)
3:00-5:00PM Free time
5PM Early dinner
6:00 PM Night photography.
Sunday, October 22, 2017

possible early morning shoot

9-10AM Breakfast
10-12:00 Image review, night planning tools
12:00-12:45PM Lunch
1:00-5:00 Field session, location tbd
5:30-6:30PM Dinner
7PM – 11PM Night photography, stars and light painting

Monday, October 23, 2017

possible early morning shoot

8:00-9:00AM Breakfast
9:00-10:30AM Image review and Workshop wrap-up

Ladyboot Arch © Harold Davis

Ladyboot Arch © Harold Davis

Registration: Click here to register via Meetup.com or contact us for direct registration. It’s free to join the Photography with Harold Davis Meetup, and members can register with a YES RSVP.

Sunrise, Alabama Hills © Harold Davis

Sunrise, Alabama Hills © Harold Davis

Also posted in Digital Night, Workshops