Boys in a Tree

Nicky, photo by Harold Davis.

On Saturday we went exploring and found this tree. The kids had fun. Nicky is above, Mathew immediately below, and Julian is far below. After a while, I took their portraits.

As I watched the kids play, I mused that parenting alternates between terror (as Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz might have exclaimed in Heart of Darkness, “The horror! The horror!”) and magnificent wonder.



Posted in Kids, Photography


We were sitting on top of Battery Townsley above Rodeo Beach in Marin Headlands. Somewhat aptly, I was reading to Julian from H.M.S. Surprise, the third volume in the Aubrey-Maturin series. The sun was coming in and out of the fog, shining brightly if obliquely when present.

All of a sudden, Julian pointed out this lizard to me, hiding under a low bush. I quickly got out my camera, and boosted the ISO to 400 so I’d have a crack at a handheld shot. Just as I was ready to make my exposure, the lizard turned his head towards me, and his eye glinted for a moment in the sun.

[105mm f/2.8 macro lens, 157.5mm 35mm equivalent focal length, 1/400 of a second at f/10 and ISO 400, handheld.]

Related story: No Time to Be Lost.

Posted in Photography

Far Country

I photographed these stanchions on a pier at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Yesterday I set out to make an infinite progression of the stanchions. Somewhat like the endless doorways in World without End or the stair without end in Endless Stair.

But the lines of perspective didn’t really work. So I flipped the image this way and that, and noodled and doodled the afternoon away.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography

Moon and Tidal Flats

We seldom stop to think that a great deal of San Francisco, East Bay, and the cities around the San Francisco Bay are built on reclaimed marsh land. Or, more accurately, tidal flats.

At the fringes, tidal flats survive that haven’t been built on, where the marshes survived the initial urge to fill-in and build, where they were marginal land used for dumping like the Albany waterfront, where they survived long enough to be saved as park.

These oozy, stinky, beautiful spaces are filled with birds and are great places to photograph sunset and moonlight reflected in the slimey mud flats.

These images are from a few days ago. They are taken from the tidal flats slightly north of Point Isabel.

San Francisco across the Bay

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Egret Crossing

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Posted in Landscape, Photography, San Francisco Area

Mirror Worlds

The world of photomacrography is made up of immense–but tiny–worlds. Each inhabiting a drop of water, a blade of grass, or the realm of a miniscule portion of a flower.

Pointing my macro lens at these worlds give me the ability–and license–to explore with passion.

Day followed the night of camellias. In the first light of morning, raindrops on the flowers opened these worlds to me.

Wet Camellia

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Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Camellia Night

It was raining the other night, and very wet. The raindrops looked very pretty on the new camellia buds. I could photograph them despite the wetness because our front porch overhang provides some shelter.

The photo above was taken with direct flash. As Solitaire1 said on Flickr, “‘Camellia Night’ should be the name of an expensive lipstick.”

I took the photo below using available light, mostly from the street lamp at our corner. You can see this light, which uses some kind of weird mecury vapor bulb, behind the leaf in the upper left quadrant of the photo. This photo was exposed for about 3 seconds on a tripod.

Camellia by Streetlight

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Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Little Shop of Horrors

This wet poppy bud reminds me of the ominivorous plant Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors. (“Feed me! Feed me now!”) A little more pruriently, as gladygirlca on Flickr delicately puts it, “I cannot look at this without seeing something else.

It rained over night. This morning early it was calm and still. I went out while the light was still indirect, before the sun was brash. Water drops on the flowers were great.

This Icelandic Poppy was in “Julian’s garden,” a patch in our backyard that our eight year old designed. It was hard fitting my tripod in the cramped space with other plants nearby; thanks to my wonderful Gitzo tripod that I can use almost anywhere I managed it.

ISO 200, 3 seconds at f/36, 105mm macro lens with 36mm of extension tubes.

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Penance in a Flower

This is the flower commonly known as a Lenten Rose. I photographed it in my garden this afternoon.

Of course, it is not a rose at all. It is a Helleborus. This one is Helleborus Orientalis.

I suppose the flower is named after Lent, a time of penitinence and fasting in the Christian faiths, because it blooms in many parts of the world around the time of Lent. But the word “Lent” itself comes from the Old English word for springtime, and its use should simply denote the changing season, not penance. And here in Berkeley, my Lenten Roses bloom now (at the end of January). Ash Wednesday is not even to be considered.

A flower as extravagantly beautiful as my Helleborus should not be paired with penitence and punishment, but rather the wild ravishment of the soul and happiness that unfettered nature can bring.

Here’s a close-up view of my un-Lent, un-penitent Lenten un-rose:

Lenten Rose

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Posted in Flowers, Photography

Sunflower from Summer

Sometimes immediately after I take a photo, I fall in love with it. But after a while it’s no longer so great, in my opinion. Other times the opposite happens: I archive a photo, forget about it, then come back to it and see it as grand. It’s like falling in love again with your spouse!

Seriously, there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon in both directions. What they boil down to is that with a little distance and space I’m more likely to be objective about one of my photos. And I probably don’t even remember what seemed so great to me when I looked through the lens. So my photo editor’s objective cool is not biased by my intense photographer’s passion. A good marriage of photographer and photo editor (even when they are married in one and the same person) requires both the passion and the coolness.

My screen saver randomly plays through my photographs. This is one mechanism I use to salvage photos from the archives. If I glance at the screen saver and really like what I see, I have another look at the photo. The screen saved is the Windows XP Slide Show, which also dispalys the file name and path for every photo it shows.

I shot this sunflower in the summer time, and when it appeared on my monitor just now, I decided it was worth another look. Looking at it, I decided to publish it in my blog. It kind of goes with the African Daisy, anyhow.

How many photos are there in my archives waiting to be rediscovered?

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography

Potato Vine Flower

I photographed this potato vine (solanum jasminoides) flower in our backyard with my Lensbaby and its macro lens. Then I hurried for cover from the rain.

Here’s a hydrangea, also taken with the Lensbaby macro kit, which can be compared with a hydrangea photographed with a conventional macro lens and extension tubes. In either case, the bud is really small.


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Posted in Flowers, Lensbaby, Photography

Construction of Nature

Coneflower 4, photo by Harold Davis. Photographed at San Francisco Botanical Garden at Strybing Arboretum. View this photo larger.

This is the same fantastic Proteaceae (Isopogon Formosos, “Coneflower”, native to Western Australia) that I photoblogged about here and here.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Unchain My Ladybug Heart!

Christmas Eve was mostly sunny. A week of rain had come before, and a sloppy wet day was to follow on Christmas. We took advantage of the interregnum to get the somewhat cabin-fevered kids out to the playground.

This ladybug landed on Julian’s thumb. He wanted to take it home and put it in a jar. We told him that ladybugs wanted to be free. He reluctantly accepted this (particularly after she flew away).

I was trying out my new AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED lens. The production version of the lens is just available in the U.S. It features vibration reduction, a huge zoom ratio (more than 10:1), a reasonably light weight, and small size. Altogether an incredible lens, with a hefty price tag (about $700 retail). I expect to write more about this lens when I’ve fully tried it out.

I slammed a 36mm extension tube behind the lens, and took this macro hand-held. When I reviewed the photographs, I saw the shadow of the ladybug formed a “heart.” Coincidence, or a plea for freedom? (Is the Ladybug pleading, “Have a heart!?”)

Here are a few other photos of the munchkins playing on Christmas eve.







Best wishes on this holiday to everyone from all of us!

Christmas eve ended in a red sunset with the dark sky warning of the next wave of impending rain coming in from the Pacific. A lone sailboat enjoyed the twilight colors:

Christmas Eve Sunset

Posted in Bemusements, Kids, Photography

The Inner Fig

I’ve been photographing grand landscapes of the Bay and Bridge. See Golden Gate Sunset, Storm over the Golden Gate, Above Us Only Sky, and Orange Sunset for some of these photos.

So for relief and fun I turned my macro lens close up on a lily (see Another Country and Adventures in the Lily Forest), a strawberry (Strawberry Fields), and a fig from our garden. These external close shots ended up looking very much like weird, alien landscapes. The fig from my garden actually could be mistaken for a real landscape when looked close enough (see Turkey Fig Cliff and Turkey Fig Crater).

What happens inside a fig close up–so I’m no longer scratching the externals but really digging in?

Inside the fig, I found aliens:

Fig Alien

And a creche-style nursery:

Fig Creche

Orifices (don’t ask):

Sweet Fig

And–of course–landscapes of the fantastic:

Fig Delta

All this from a cute little modest-end-of-season Turkey Fig from our garden:

Kissing Fig

Posted in Bemusements, Landscape, Patterns, Photography

The Naked Moth

This moth flew into our bathroom last night around 10PM. The moth was naked. So was I. But I had to photograph him (he had landed on the bathroom mirror).

So I got out the Canon Powershot and put it on a tripod. These LCD digital cameras are really better for quick photo macros than the SLRs anyhow. Here’s a picture of me taking the picture:

Self Moth

The bathroom seemed awfully quiet with just me and the moth. Maybe that’s because I had photographed Julian earlier as a ghost. Thanks to the miracle of bounce flash, his motion is partially captured. A neat effect:

Julian as Ghost

Posted in Bemusements, Kids, Photography

Yoda and Emperor Palpatine

Yoda and Emperor Palpatine contemplate the fate of the world…or is it a marble?

A metaphor for our times? It’s wild how Star Wars has built a mythology that works in current times and appeals to kids (and the young at heart).

Posted in Bemusements, Yoda