Red Flowering Dogwood Blossom

Red Flowering Dogwood

Red Flowering Dogwood, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Phyllis and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week. Sixteen years, three kids and one more on the way, it all seems like forever and no time at all. I’m so lucky to have a real life partner.

My parents sent flowers as did Phyllis’s mom. This red flowering dogwood blossom is from a branch in one of these bouquets.

I photographed the blossom in the morning like of our breakfast nook using a macro lens and extension tube setup. The water drops are judiciously applied, and come from my professional high output sprayer.

This final version combines different exposures and three different stacked focus points, for an image that is (depending upon the definition of the term) HDR as well as High Focal Range (HFR).

[Nikon D300, 200mm f/4 macro lens (300mm in 35mm terms), 36mm extension tube, three exposures with different focal points, exposure times ranging between 1/6 of a second and 4/5 of a second, all exposures at f/40, ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Flowers, Photography

High Focal Range (HFR)


Daffodil, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

If you’ve ever looked closely at a daffodil like this beautiful specimen, you’ll know that within the outer yellow petals is an orange “trumpet”. The trumpet itself contains the reproductive parts of the flower: ovaries, pistil, and the stigma, style, and anthers shown in this photo. You’ll know, from having observed the daffodil, that these reproductive parts are really, really tiny.

So tiny that when I photographed this flower indoors (to control wind) backlit with the bright light of the morning sun in our breakfast nook, I found I could not get both the style (which sticks out a bit) and the anthers (the things covered with pollen) in focus.

The solution is to extend the field of focus by taking multiple photographs, each with a different point of focus. Provided you use the same aperture in each exposure, it can be possible to combine the two images as layers in Photoshop, thus extending the field of focus. In this case, I took two captures, one focused on the style and one focused on the anthers.

This process is sometimes called focus “stacking”. But I figure, why not give it a high-fallutin descriptive term and acronym? Extending the dynamic, or exposure, range of an photo using multiple captures creates a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image. So why shouldn’t extending a photo’s focal range by stacking several captures create a High Focal Range (HFR) image? You heard it here first…

[Nikon D300, 200mm f/4 macro lens (300mm in 35mm terms), 36mm extension tube, +4 diopter close up filter, two exposures with different focal points, both at 1.6 seconds and f/36, ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Monochrome Shore

Monochrome Shore

Monochrome Shore, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I’ve been thinking a good bit lately about making black and white prints from certain of my digital images. Actually, since the final output would be using my digital printer, printing via offset, or display on a color monitor, what I’m really doing is to use the RGB (or CMYK) color notation to create a simulation of a black and white image. So this is an intentionally retro endeavor. Worth noting: quality vintage black and white prints were not actually “black” and white, but toned to create a rich (but monochromatic) look.

I took this photo from a position some way off the Chimney Rock Trail in Point Reyes, look west at the setting sun and the rugged shore of the end of the Point Reyes peninsula. My intention when I took the photo was to convert it to monochrome, because there were hardly any colors anyhow. The shoreline seemed backlit to me, and I figured, well you can get a glamour backlit black and white of a model, why not a landscape?

Taking the photo took a fraction of a second, but converting this image took much longer.

First I processed it from the RAW as I would a normal color image, using several different RAW “exposures” in combination. Next, I tweaked each color channel used Color Channel adjustment layers with monochromatic check. I weaked the whole confection a bit, then added a few adjustments in LAB color and a tritone version of the original on top of my (by now massive) layer stack. Not to oversimplify, I used a variety of blending modes, masks, and adjustment layers.

If there is a moral to this, it’s that the key word is “simulate.” To get the “black & white” results I wanted, I needed to alter the color structure of the image, creating an entirely new look in the process. Well, honestly, that’s what I normally do with my photos much of the time.

Related story: Nautilus in Black and White.

[Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR zoom lens at 55mm (77.5mm in 35mm terms), 1/160 of a second at f/32 and ISO 100, hand held, image stabilization engaged.]

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Point Reyes



Scalloped, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I stood on the bluffs high above Drakes Beach just after the sun had dipped below the horizon. The high bluffs shadowed the beach below, while the light of sunset still reflected from the incoming surf. I shot a sequence of images at various shutter speeds.

If you are curious, the faster shutter speeds came out better than the slower ones at the same EV value. Across the board, I intentionally underexposed by about two f-stops (or by a factor of four) to make the beach go even darker while still picking up the colors in the water.


Back at home, when Phyllis and I looked at the sequence in Adobe Bridge, the thumbnail looked to us like a scalloped sea shell on a black background. I processed the photo in Photoshop to emphasize this effect.

Related stories: Wave Tangent, Patterns of Design.

[Nikon D300, 18-200mm VR zoom lens at 200mm (300mm in 35mm terms), 1/250 of a second at f/6.3 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Landscape, Photography, Point Reyes

Sausalito & Belvedere

From the cliffs above Sausalito, in one direction the Golden Gate Bridge in alignment, and across the bay, San Francisco. In the other direction, Sausalito & Belvedere Island with lights, terraces, and pleasure craft. This is a night scene in the city, but looked at abstractly it could be something like a blow-up of an amoeba, or?

Related image: Sausalito at Twilight.

Posted in Digital Night, Photography