Category Archives: Writing

Free Webinar: Creative Black and White Opportunities

Please join me for a free webinar about Black and White creative opportunities. The webinar is scheduled for Tuesday August 29 at 11AM PT, with free registration on a first-come-first-served basis. Click here to register for my webinar, which is sponsored by Rocky Nook, the publishers of my new book.

In this webinar, I will discuss tips and tricks related to digital black and white photography, and will include material on LAB inversions, solarization techniques, the Karl Blossfeldt effect, and x-ray imaging.

My new book, Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, is now available. The publisher, Rocky Nook, is offering a 40% discount. Click here to buy Creative Black & White 2nd Ed directly from the publisher. Use the code “HDAVIS40” [no quotes] at checkout to apply the discount (you can also use my discount code for all other Rocky Nook books, by the way!).

Here are the links for my book on Amazon.com and on B&N as well, so the choice of supplier is yours.

Click here to register for my webinar, which is sponsored by Rocky Nook, the publishers of my new book.

Also posted in Photography

My Artist Statement

Mountains on the Beach © Harold Davis

Mountains on the Beach © Harold Davis

I haven’t reviewed the Artist Statement I wrote a number of years back for quite a while, and I recently had cause to take another look at my statement. I’m pleased that my Artist Statement stills speaks of me, and for me. Here’s the gist of it (you can read my full Artist Statement by clicking here):

My work lies at the intersections of many styles and disciplines: between east and west, classicism and modernism, photography and painting, and the new technologies of the digital era versus the handcraft traditions of the artisan. To understand my imagery, one needs to see where it fits within each of these dichotomies.

Before I explain, let me mention that my primary goal is not to evoke academic, scholarly, or pedantic understanding. I’d almost rather my work not be understood–so that the response is evoked on a primal level that has more to do with the heart and gut than the intellect.

A great deal of thought goes into my work, but it shouldn’t have to take thought to enjoy it. At the simplest level I am trying to evoke–at both conscious and unconscious levels–a sense of serenity, wholeness, and wonder. My work can be experienced and enjoyed simply and organically for its structure and beauty.

With many of my images, unwrapping the sense of wholeness that the work conveys is not immediate. I am asking someone experiencing my images to have the patience to contemplate–and perhaps resolve a visual puzzle–but I don’t necessarily let on upfront that my viewers will be confronting a conundrum. 

I believe that advances in the technology and craft of digital photography have created an entirely new medium. My years of contemplation have opened my eyes and my heart, and taught me to see more deeply. I use this alchemy of wonder to combine the traditions of painting and photography with new technology.

Read more.

Panorama of the Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis

Panorama of the Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis

Creative Black and White 2 Ed Now Available (with Discount Code!)

I’m very pleased that my new book, Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, is now available. The publisher, Rocky Nook, is offering a 40% discount. Click here to buy Creative Black & White 2nd Ed directly from the publisher. Use the code “HDAVIS40” [no quotes] at checkout to apply the discount (you can also use my discount code for all other Rocky Nook books, by the way!).

Here are the links for my book on Amazon.com and on B&N as well, so the choice of supplier is yours.

If you like Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, I would really appreciate a thoughtful review. Thanks!

Creative Black & White has been revised, substantially expanded, and brought up to date.  I’ve added entire sections, substantially enlarged the book (it is 80 pages longer than the first edition), and most of the photos are new. Every photo includes information about how it was made, both from a technical perspective, and also the story about my thinking behind the image.

As I note in the Preface to this Second Edition, “Of course, I was flattered to be asked to write this revised and expanded second edition of Creative Black & White. One of the goals of this new edition is to bring the tools and techniques explained in this book up to date. This is particularly important in the realm of Lightroom and Photoshop software, and with the plug-ins that are a necessary extension of the Adobe ecosystem.

“Beyond keeping current, I want to help you become a better and more creative photographer, whatever your interest level or toolset may be.”

It’s been great fun updating this book, making a good book even better, refreshing the images, and bringing the software explanations up to date. I hope my new book proves to be inspiring and useful to you!

Click here to buy my book from Rocky Nook (please use the HDAVIS40 discount code for your discount), here for my book on Amazon, and here on Barnes & Noble.

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Creative Black and White 2nd Edition eBook Now Available

We’re very excited about the second edition of Creative Black & White.  The eBook is now available for purchase and download (the actual “book book” will follow in a month or two). Creative Black & White has been revised, substantially expanded, and brought up to date. You can buy the eBook now from Amazon or directly from the publisher. I’ve added entire sections, substantially enlarged the book, and most of the photos are new. Every photo includes information about how it was made, both from a technical perspective, and also the story about my thinking behind the image.

As I note in the Preface to this Second Edition, “Of course, I was flattered to be asked to write this revised and expanded second edition of Creative Black & White. One of the goals of this new edition is to bring the tools and techniques explained in this book up to date. This is particularly important in the realm of Lightroom and Photoshop software, and with the plug-ins that are a necessary extension of the Adobe ecosystem.

“Beyond keeping current, I want to help you become a better and more creative photographer, whatever your interest level or toolset may be.”

It’s been great fun updating this book, making a good book even better, refreshing the images, and bringing the software explanations up to date. I hope my new book proves to be inspiring and useful to you!

Click here to buy the eBook now from Amazon and click here to buy it directly from the publisher.

Radiating Beauty: Creating a new photographic form with fusion x-rays

The shapes and forms are recognizable, yet the level of detail is deeper than the human eye can normally perceive: Leaves appear minutely laced and surfaces are impossibly intricate, somewhere between translucent and opaque. Welcome to the captivating work of photographer Harold Davis and radiologist Dr. Julian Köpke, who combine their skill, passion, and vision to create stunning X-ray photography and pioneering fusion images. Read more on the Pixsy blog (article by Natalie Holmes).

Sunflower X-Ray Fusion © Harold Davis

Also posted in X-Ray

Creative Black & White—Revised and Expanded

We’re almost through authoring the second edition of Creative Black & White. It has been revised, substantially expanded, and brought up to date. You can pre-order my new book from Amazon (the official publication date is August 1, 2019).

As I note in the Preface to this Second Edition, “Of course, I was flattered to be asked to write this revised and expanded second edition of Creative Black & White. One of the goals of this new edition is to bring the tools and techniques explained in this book up to date. This is particularly important in the realm of Lightroom and Photoshop software, and with the plug-ins that are a necessary extension of the Adobe ecosystem.

“Beyond keeping current, I want to help you become a better and more creative photographer, whatever your interest level or toolset may be.”

It’s been great fun updating this book, making a good book even better, refreshing the images, and bringing the software explanations up to date. I hope my new book proves to be inspiring and useful to you!

Click here to pre-order Creative Black & White from Amazon.

Greetings from a peripatetic photographer and writer!

I’ve just returned from a voyage to Paris, then leading a group in Malta, followed by a week exploring Sicily. Prior to this, in October I was on a road trip up the California and Oregon coast. In September, I was photographing in the rugged land east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Over the summer I was in Maine, New York, and Germany. The spring found me first in the southwest of France, then hiking along the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and finally in the Balearic Islands.

If you are interested in the images from these travels of mine, I urge you to take a look at my blog. Words do matter to me, and many times the words in my blog tell the stories behind the photo, or at least my thinking making the photo. For your reference, here’s the Paris category on my blog, the Malta category, the first story from the coastal Oregon trip, and the story that marks the start of my Camino. My Flickr stream and Instagram feed have more images than could possibly be on my blog, and these photos may help to fill in some of the backstory.

For personal, familial, creative, and artistic reasons I am contemplating a future with less in the way of in-person workshops that I lead. On this good news and bad news paradigm, I still will be teaching via my books, video courses such as my Photoshop Backgrounds and Textures, and on this website. I have book revisions scheduled for the coming year, along with new books, and a new video course planned for early in the year. 

Poem of the Road © Harold Davis

Lonely Road © Harold Davis

It’s not easy to change course on a dime, and this will be a busy workshop year for me as well. For a long time, folks have been asking me to lead a workshop in Florida. I am finally doing so in February, at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, with the topic being Garden and Flower Photography

In April, I am looking forward very much to once again to leading a destination travel workshop to Paris and Monet’s gardens at Giverny. If this intrigues you, this small group of photographers is edging towards completeness, so it might be a good time to sign up, particularly if you are interested in gifting yourself and/or a loved one with a lavish photographic Christmas present.

June brings once again our annual Photographing Flowers for Transparency master workshop, held here in Berkeley, California (a few spaces are still open).

In October 2019, I am planning to be the photographic “Golf Pro” on a destination photo workshop to one of my favorite parts of the world, Northern Morocco, with logistics spearheaded by a major travel organization.

I like to quote Yogi Berra’s witticism that “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” But of course we all make these predictions (and plans) regardless. As I look ahead at the new year, and contemplate both the needs of my family and how best to nurture my own artistic creativity, I do feel that cutting back on in-person teaching is almost certainly a step I need to take, at least for a while. 

The implication of course is that if you’d like a hands-on workshop with me, or to travel with me, this would be the time. If not now, when? Click here for my Workshops & Events page with the 2019 listings.

Bridge of Light – Color Version © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Understanding Exposure 101

By popular request, I’ve posted the informational slides from my Getting Your Camera Off Auto presentation in a new slideshow FAQ, Understanding Exposure 101.

What is an Exposure?

Also posted in Photography

Stories that weave through my blog

I’ve been writing this blog since 2005, which is to say over twelve years. Sometimes there’s more, and sometimes I have less to say, but the average is about ten stories a month. That’s quite a bit of material; back-of-the-envelope it comes to more than 1,400 stories.

Of course, some are more weighty than others. But it will probably come as no surprise that some stories are serial and sequential, and build on each other through an adventure or fraught life event. 

Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis

Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis

The purpose of this meta-blog story is to point out a few of these embedded series, and to show you where you might start reading if you are interested.

The Birth of Katie Rose—My daughter was born very prematurely, and we didn’t know if she would survive. I photographed her in the NICU, and wrote about what was happening in real-time. You can start with First Look or The Birth of Katie Rose Davis (written after she came home and was out of danger).

Hands © Harold Davis

Hiking the Kumano Kodo—In 2013 I hiked the famous Kumano kodo pilgrimage trail in Japan. You can read about some of my adventures in Japan starting with Noriko Tries to Poison Me, and read about my hike starting with On the Kumano kodo.

Tree and Reflection, Nara © Harold Davi

Tree and Reflection, Nara © Harold Davis

Camino de Santiago—More recently, in the spring of 2018, I hiked a portion of this famous pilgrimage trail in Spain. My pilgrimage story starts with Beginning My Compostela.

Romanesque Bridge along the Camino © Harold Davis

Does the Wilderness Care About Me?—Back in 2005, I launched myself on an ill-prepared early season venture into the Ansel Adams Wilderness. I survived to tell the tale that starts in A Walk on the Wild Side.

Alone I Stand © Harold Davis

Vietnam—In 2017 I visited Vietnam with my longtime friend Eric. Our ostensible goal was to visit the largest cave in the world, Son Doong. Along the way, we saw many strange and wondrous things, starting with the Long Bien Bridge that was important during the American-Vietnamese war because it connects Hanoi by rail with the port of Haiphong.

Son Doong Cave © Harold Davis

Cuba—In 2009 I visited Cuba with a photography group. You can read some of my observations starting with Fifty Years after the Cuban Revolution.

On the Cover © Harold Davis

 

Also posted in Cuba, Japan, Katie Rose, Vietnam

The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency: A new book from Harold Davis

We’re excited to announce a new book: The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency by Harold Davis.

 Of course, my new book will showcase many of my botanical images. In addition, there will be extensive material explaining my process for photographing flowers on a light box. There will be a section on post-production, including a detailed guide to using LAB color for inversions of white-to-black, and for creative color effects.

The is a serious book in terms of its pedagogy, as the techniques I use in my transparent floral work are useful in many aspects of digital photography.

There will also be technical notes for the images in the book explaining how I made each image.

It’s a great deal of fun writing and designing this book. I have been working on this project for many years, so it is very exciting to me to see it progressing (my new book will be available in 2019)!

The images paired below are of poppies and mallow from my garden, captured, processed and inverted using the techniques I explain in The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency. If you’d like to learn more about these techniques before my new book is available, please check out my FAQs: Photographing Flowers for Transparency and Using a High-Key Layer Stack.

Poppies and Mallows on Black (Inversion) © Harold Davis

Poppies and Mallows on White © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Podcast with Harold Davis: A New Era for Black & White

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR HAROLD DAVIS

Internationally-known digital artist and award-winning photographer Harold Davis joins the Mid CenturyBooks podcast to discuss his 2017 book, THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLACK AND WHITE HANDBOOK

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) © Harold Davis

Part 2, A New Era for Black and White

Harold Davis: “We came to the end of an era, pretty much, with film photography, and in fact, there was a time when the only photography anyone could do was black and white. Then, color film photography became the ascendant thing. And now we have an entirely new art form with a lot of new craft involved, and the idea behind the technical parts of this book, and it’s not that I’m going to tell everybody exactly what slider to press, with what software, but more the principles and ideas of how digital black and white photography work.”

Click here for the podcast, and see the latest additions to the Mid Century Books (sponsor of this podcast) photography collection

Click here for Part 1 of the podcast, Black & White Photography in the Digital Age.

Also posted in Photography

The Long and Winding Road Takes the Path Less Traveled!

To fully understand my art and the man behind the lens, one needs to understand the unique path I’ve taken—which is definitely a “Road Less Traveled”—and learn a bit more about who I am. The definition works both ways round: my work in part defines me, and who I am defines, energizes, and bounds my work, and gives my art the power that it has. 

In other words, since I have been at it a while, my work as an artist and photographer can be said to be the face I deserve. My work in large measure defines me, although of course I am also a husband, father, and lover of wild things.

Read Behind the Lens with Harold Davis on the Topaz Labs Blog, which I wrote to give some idea of the long and winding path less traveled that I’ve taken to become the artist and photographer I am today.

Road Less Traveled by Harold Davis

Road Less Traveled © Harold Davis

On Beauty and Art

Liz writes the Exploring Colour Blog from New Zealand. She used my image of the Blue Danube in a story on the color Indigo. Next, Liz was stimulated to start a series of guest pieces on What and Where is Beauty. She asked me to write the first blog on the topic, which I titled On Art and Beauty. I have been meditating a great deal about the role of beauty in contemporary art and photography, so the words just came tumbling out.

Salutation to the Sun © Harold Davis

What is beauty? What is the place of beauty in art? Surprisingly, these are contentious and difficult questions that involve some very slippery concepts. In the past couple of centuries, since the end of representational art as the ultimate goal of the artist, the role of beauty in art has become increasingly vexatious.

This is particularly troublesome in the context of photography, which necessarily has some representational components, and the rise of the hegemony of conceptual art.

Read more…

Podcast with Harold Davis

Check out this wonderful interview with me in a podcast produced by Mid Century Books. Click here for the podcast, here for the Mid Century Books blog story, and here for The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook on the Mid Century Books website.

Tables and Chairs, Valletta © Harold Davis

Here’s the description of the podcast: Internationally-known digital artist and award-winning photographer Harold Davis joins our podcast to discuss his 2017 book THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLACK AND WHITE HANDBOOK. Davis is a professional photographer, as well as teacher, world traveler, story teller, and he is a classically trained painter. A multi-published author, his writing is as evocative as his art, and this comes through in his visual style. In fact, he values writing so much, he calls himself a “photographer as poet.” He started his career in the New York art scene of the 1980s. Later, he spent time in California’s technology industry. Now Harold Davis heads his own studio in Berkeley, CA.

Part 1, What Should Be in a Photographer’s Backpack

Tuscan Road © Harold Davis

Darkness into Light

This spring I visited and spent a number of days and nights in the world’s largest cave, in the jungle mountains of central Vietnam. Fewer people have been to the cave than have been into space. This was a journey of 6,000 miles to the other side of the world, and an arduous trek through the jungle, down precipices, and across narrow and high bridges in the darkness with water gurgling far below.

For me, the appeal of visiting the world’s largest cave was less to do with the “cavey things”, or even the varied landscapes and portals of the cave, and more to do with where one begins to see the light. In other words, this was a spiritual quest as all journeys are, or should be.

A core component of my quest was to peer into darkness and distinguish the void from the light, to attempt to examine this darkness and light in the context of the basic structure of photography, which is also about darkness and light.

Stalactites, stalagmites, and other geological wonders of the speleology are fine in their place. This is a landscape that is quite difficult to photograph traditionally in the absolute darkness of the void, and in the absence of logical markers of scale that we see in a more normal landscape. A challenge is always intriguing, but difficulties aside, the speleological features don’t interest me photographically.

What does appeal to me is the cave as metaphor, and metaphorical experience. From darkness we are born, sometimes easily and sometimes with difficulty, and emerge from the cave naked into the light.

Cave Shadows © Harold Davis

We struggle towards the light, and live with what we see in the shadows. At the other end another dark tunnel awaits, with who-knows-what on the other side.

Let There Be Light © Harold Davis

This is the story of our lives—with love, passion, and our journey from darkness to light. In the end, this reverses and we return to the void. At its best, a compelling image can help put us in touch with a piece of this journey. Always we must wonder: are we looking at reality, whatever that may be, or at a pale shadow, flickering on the walls of our cave?

Also posted in Vietnam