Fire Engine Restoration

My Maine Media Workshops Composition & Photography group visited an antique fire engine restoration atelier housed in a large barn. I gather this is one of the few antique fire engine restoration workshops in the country.

Fire Engine Restoration © Harold Davis

Mostly, these vintage engines are used in parades. In the image below you can see a framed painting on the wall showing a horse drawn fire engine from the “good old days”—what some of these fire engines must have looked like in their own time.

Fire Engine Restoration 2 © Harold Davis

While the workshop seemed a bit chaotic, it is remarkable the care they were taking in restoring these old engines to their full glory!

Enough Is Enough © Harold Davis

Posted in HDR, Photograms

(Digital) Darkroom Prowess

The two very different images shown in this story have something in common: digital darkroom prowess. In other words, both images make extensive use of post-production tools and techniques to arrive at a “look” that seems fairly natural. As a side note here, even naturalness is a concept that depends upon expectations, cultural awareness, and individual sensibilities.

Tripping the Glass Fantastic © Harold Davis

High-end photography has always relied on post-production. Very little imagery looks its best straight from the camera. Anyone who is still skeptical of digital photography should note that this was as true for wet, chemical photography as it is for digital. A large part of the art is (and was) in post, whether on the computer or in the darkroom. 

Lonely Tree © Harold Davis

Photographic composition, analyzed in my recent book on the subject, is one of the least mutable parts of the photographic discipline, but even in composition there is no categorical certainty of alignment with “reality,” whether the image relates to party leaders snipped from history following the show trials of old Bolsheviks, the wonderful fantasies of Jerry Uelsmann,  or my own Impossible images

I’ll be demonstrating some of the most important post-production tools I use in an upcoming webinar, Out in the World: The Making of Four Photos.

Posted in Photography

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is a World Heritage Site, and believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited structure in North America.  The core of the present adobe complex was probably initially built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. 

The church of San Geronimo de Taos, shown at the bottom, is the third church built on the site, and dates to 1850 (although the Spanish first assigned a missionary priest to Taos Pueblo in 1598).

Taos Pueblo © Harold Davis

Taos Pueblo 2 © Harold Davis

San Geronimo de Taos © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Creating Structure Using Forms and Patterns with Harold Davis

Free Live Webinar presented by RockyNook | Thursday October 13 at 11:00am PT

Of all the magical elixirs that make up a successful photograph, composition is perhaps the most fundamental, and at the same time the most elusive. What makes a composition “good”? It’s hard to define exactly, but we instinctively recognize good composition when we see it. There is an undeniable emotional response when a composition resonates with and complements the subject matter of an image.

But traditional attempts to define “good composition” and to pass on rules for good compositional construction are often doomed to failure. The truth is, there are no hard and fast rules. Rules eliminate experimentation and spontaneity which are crucial for creating compelling, dynamic, and exciting compositions. The best compositions contain an element of the unexpected. “Expect the unexpected!” is perhaps the only viable “rule” of composition. To create exciting compositions, you must have a willingness to embrace serendipity and change as part of your artistic practice. After all, composition is a process, not a result.

Edward Weston once wrote in his Daybooks that “to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” To this, Ansel Adams added that “You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”

To resolve these two semi-paradoxes, in this webinar Harold approaches composition as an instance of open-ended two-dimensional design. Photographic examples and “thought experiments” will start with simple shapes, such as lines and circles, and proceed through patterns and repetitions, and onwards to spirals, fractals, and abstractions. The webinar will present ideas from Harold’s new book Composition & Photography, and will be intended to provoke thought about composition basics.

The goal of this webinar is to enable individual integration of the process of learning to truly see and creative composition into each participant’s visual practice. In other words, this webinar should interest anyone who wants to find out more about creating images that work and about the creative process of composition in photography.

About Harold Davis: Harold Davis is an internationally known photographer and a sought-after workshop leader. According to Popular Photography Magazine, “Harold Davis’s ethereal floral arrangements have a purity and translucence that borders on spiritual.”

The 2022 Photographic Society of America Progress Award winner, he is a Moab Master and a Zeiss Ambassador. He has exhibited widely and his prints are extensively collected. In 2022, several of his images were selected by the United States Post Office for use as postage stamps.

Rangefinder Magazine states that “Harold Davis is a force of nature—a man of astonishing eclectic skills and accomplishments.”

Posted in Workshops

Victor, Colorado

Victor is a gold mining town in Colorado. Partially depopulated, located at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet on the southwest shoulder of Pikes Peak, it is part of a National Historic District. Known as the “City of Mines,” Victor was at its most populated in the late 1800s, when a great deal of gold ore passed through the district, and the population reached 18,000 (today it has 397 residents).

Splendid Pleasures, Victor, Colorado © Harold Davis

One tourist-oriented website puts it this way:

We are  a unique setting of 1890’s mine structures and turn-of-the-century brick buildings, unique shops and restaurants, as well as hiking trails, museums, and gold mining experiences. We have clean, cool mountain air and plenty of year-round sunshine. What we do not have – stoplights, chain stores, traffic, or anything resembling the rat race!

Tatlow Building © Harold Davis

On a cool autumn afternoon, on my way to Colorado Springs, I passed through Victor with my camera. I found the place intriguing. Most of the brick buildings date from 1899, when they were rebuilt following a devastating fire. There’s a definite nostalgic “cat house” aesthetic, with the locations of prominent brothels sign-posted (also check out the billboard in the background of the photo of the old tow truck at the top of this story). As opposed to the nearby town of Cripple Creek (bottom photo), there is no apparent move to base the town economy on gambling.

Victor © Harold Davis

I wish I had more time to spend photographing Victor, and hope I get to visit this very interesting area again.

God Bless America © Harold Davis

Cripple Creek, Colorado © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Webinar: Out in the World | the Making of Four Photos

What: Out in the World | the Making of Four Photos

When: Saturday, October 15, 2022 at 11am PT. Duration between one and two hours, including Q&A

Where: On your computer or mobile device from anywhere via Zoom. A tuition payment of $34.95 is required for enrollment. Seating is limited. The registration link is https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uvBNGl-5TcmHc5xC3y3p_w

Bishop Castle Interior © Harold Davis

Details: As the world slouches towards a “new normal,” we are all concerned with what has changed, what stays the same, and how this impacts both our photography and travel.

In this webinar, Harold addresses the issues of where we are going and what are the new opportunities the world offers. He’ll also discuss his ongoing photography and travel workshop plans.

In this context, Harold will explore some of his recent work in the light of the post-production techniques needed to complement the photographic captures. He will detail the process of how four images were made. Learn some of the great behind-the-scenes “secrets” of extraordinary image making!

The techniques shown will include:

  • Hand-HDR, using layers and masking in Photoshop
  • Multi-Raw processing, to expand the dynamic range of a single image
  • Monochromatic conversions, and creating effective black & white photos
  • Essential LAB inversion and sharpening techniques, and how to apply a Curve adjustment in LAB

Folks have asked for it, and here it is! Many of you watched Harold & Phyllis’s live webinars during the first pandemic year, and have been clamoring for more webinars as the world opens. Fasten your seat belts, because it is going to be a fun ride!

There will be ample time for Q&A.

Cripple Creek, Colorado © Harold Davis

Who should attend: In Harold’s view, the process of photography includes both capture and post-processing. This webinar will help you learn the techniques you need to know to master advanced image creation, as well as to pre-visualize the process from beginning to end. In addition, Harold will put the process of image creation in the context of today’s world, in which the only thing constant is change.

Tuition: The tuition for this webinar is $34.95, and requires prior registration. Seating (on a first come, first served basis) is limited. You must register via Zoom to be enrolled in this webinar! The registration link is https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_uvBNGl-5TcmHc5xC3y3p_w

About Harold Davis: Harold Davis is an artist, photographer, educator, and the bestselling author of many books, including most recently Composition & Photography from Rocky Nook. The 2022 Photographic Society of America Progress Award winner, he is the developer of a unique technique for photographing flowers for transparency, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Ambassador. His recent publications include the 2022 release of his Tulip Pano Forever postage stamp by the United States Post Office. He is an internationally known photographer and a sought-after workshop leader. His website is www.digitalfieldguide.com.

Dune Composition © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Maine and Colorado

Here are two images from my recent trip to Maine and Colorado. The first image is of a stairway in Fort Knox, Maine. That’s right: there is a Fort Knox in Maine! Both the Fort Knox in Maine and the better-known Fort Knox in Kentucky were named after Henry Knox. Major General Knox, considered one of the United States “founding fathers,” was Chief of Artillery in the American Revolutionary War and the first United States Secretary of War.

Stairs at Fort Knox © Harold Davis

The image below was made while slogging up the sand slope in Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado near the New Mexico border. It’s a single RAW capture, processed three times using multi-RAW EV variations to account for the vast dynamic range between the clouds in the sky and the foreground in partial shadow.

Sea of Sand © Harold Davis

Great Sand Dunes NP is a wonderful location, and a kind of adult playground in the sand. I hadn’t been there since I was a youngster. I enjoyed photographing the location, and feel it is comparable to the wonderful austerity of the Eureka Dunes section of Death Valley.

Posted in Photography

Steam Train

I was photographing some derelict factory buildings in La Jara, Colorado, when a natty gentleman came out of the mostly disused train station beside the overgrown train tracks. He was the city manager of La Jara, which is near the New Mexico border, and his office was in the train station. He told me about the steam-powered Cumbres & Toltec scenic railroad, and said that I could just about arrive in time for today’s departure from Antonito.

Steam Train © Harold Davis

I drove to Antonito, and arrived just as the train was “gathering a head of steam” and pulling out of the station. I drove ahead a bit, and parked by the tracks to grab a sequence of shots, including this one. It looked pretty good in color. I decided to try taking it to monochrome, and don’t regret it!

About the Cumbres & Toltec scenic railroad:

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad is a National Historic Landmark that moves.  At 64-miles in length, it is the longest, the highest and most authentic steam railroad in North America, traveling through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Rocky Mountain West.

Owned by the states of Colorado and New Mexico, the train crosses state borders 11 times, zigzagging along canyon walls, burrowing through two tunnels, and steaming over 137-foot Cascade Trestle.

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Bottle Collection

Today we photographed many beautiful and magical things—like the glass bottle collection shown here, and continuing to a very wonderful and rather weird historical fire-engine-restoration workshop. I’ll show the fire engine images when I can process them, but for now here is my photo of a collection of glass bottles!

Bottle Collection © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Rockland Breakwater and the Endless Summer Flower Farm

Today my Maine workshop group photographed at the Rockland Breakwater, and also at the Endless Summer Flower Farm. The idea, borrowed from Composition & Photography, was to start with simple shapes. Such as lines, dots, and circles, and to build up from the simple shapes to create interesting compositions.

Dahlia at the Endless Summer Flower Farm © Harold Davis

Triangle on the stone causeway © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Coming into Maine

Coming into Maine in the cool of the evening, I spent my first night in Maine in a cabin off-the-grid on the verge of the great northern forest. I woke early to the dappled light through the trees. On my way as the sun rose, I stopped by the banks of the Penobscot River to photograph sunrise, a bridge, and grass along the banks of the water.

Richmond-Dresden Bridge © Harold Davis

River Grass © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Helichrysum bracteatum

I photographed this Helichrysum bracteatum (strawflower) blossom on my light box (far below), then inverted the image in LAB Color, and converted to monochromatic (directly below).

I’m headed tomorrow to Maine to teach a workshop in Composition & Photography. I am looking forward very much to the week on mid-coast Maine at Maine Media Workshops, where I haven’t been since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 (webinars are great, but they don’t take the place of in-person workshops!).

Should you be feeling nostalgic for 2020 and the early pandemic, you can also check out Love in the Time of the Coronavirus on my blog.

Helichrysum bracteatum © Harold Davis

Helichrysum bracteatum on white © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Video Games Are Actually Good for Your Brain

A little more than fourteen years ago, my daughter Katie Rose was born very prematurely. Today, Katie’s Video Games are Actually Good for Your Brain has been selected to be showcased at the California STEAM Symposium in Anaheim, CA on October 1-2, 2022. Congratulations Katie!

Sleeping Angels © Harold Davis

Posted in Katie Rose, Kids, Photography

Butterfly of Flowers

It’s fun to use flowers to create animistic shapes on the light box, like good-luck dragons and this “Butter-flower” shown below.

Butterfly of Flowers © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

The Eternal City: Albumen Print Simulations

I’m excited to be headed back to Italy this autumn, and have been looking through my archives. What work have I done in Italy, and how can I make progress from there?

These digital simulations of albumen printing are based on images I made in Rome. I had forgotten this series, from 2016, but now as I revisit it I am pleased (if I say so myself!).

Rome from St Peter’s Dome © Harold Davis

I briefly mentioned the image above in a blog story about a workshop I gave: “The sepia image of the eternal city (Rome) shown above was a classroom demonstration, with the file drawn from my recent trip to Italy.” I think what happened is that I liked the in-class demo so much that I worked through the other images (shown below) using the same set of techniques, and style!

Forum of Rome © Harold Davis

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi © Harold Davis

Posted in Monochrome, Photography