Giant Ficus Tree

Giant Ficus Tree © Harold Davis

This giant Ficus tree, Ficus macrophyllia, dominates one corner of Ventura’s Plaza Park. It was planted in 1874, and you can see how big it is by comparing the size of the car parked on the street to the left of the tree, and the street light to its right that is dwarfed by the giant tree.

Posted in Monochrome

Pixel Pie

Pixel Pie © Harold Davis

When I was a kid growing up in the east they used to have “snow days”—when school was called on account of snow. You went back to bed, covered your head with the blankets, forgot about homework, and looked forward to a blissful day playing in the snow.

What do you do when work is called on account of rain? Part of my answer is to go exploring with my camera in the rain, but when that gets old, I like to play with pixels—in this case LAB channel operations, Photoshop blending modes, mirroring, and reflecting.

Can we count the ways? © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Ventura Pier and Dark Sea

It rained all day as I was recording, but towards late afternoon there was a break in the weather. I positioned myself on the roof of a parking garage, and photographed the Ventura Pier. This pier is a great wooden structure, built in 1872, and well maintained since then.

Ventura Pier © Harold Davis

Heading down along the walk beside the beach, the lowering sky again threatened rain. In the gathering darkness I made a fairly long exposure (about thirty seconds) near the Pipeline, a well known Ventura surfing break. I started in on a longer exposure, but the rain really was coming down, so I protected my camera as best I could, and called it a night!

Dark Sea © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Workshop and Travel Opportunities—Off to make a new video course!

I’m spending next week near Santa Barbara making a new video course. This one is about the Creative Use of LAB Color in Photoshop. I’ve been scripting and rehearsing the course this past week, and I’m excited to see it come together. I’ve been too “heads-down” on authoring my upcoming course to think about much else, but I do want to bring to your attention some upcoming workshop and travel opportunities:

  • Garden and Flower Photography, Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Palm Beach, Florida, February 8-10, 2019; click for information and registration. Coming up very soon, and there is still space! This is my first workshop in Florida, and I am looking forward to exploring. Come join me for some great botanical photography!

Double Rainbow over Paris © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Harold’s LAB Color Action: New Version Available

My Abstraction © Harold Davis

I am feeling smug that I still have some decent computer skills. The last time I updated this Photoshop Action (a kind of macro using Photoshop’s internal scripting language) was a decade ago, for the publication of The Photoshop Darkroom.

The updated Action (Version 01.09.2019) contains some new usability features such as better labeling and hotkey access, and two new LAB color adjustments included in the palette. Click here to download the Readme file for Harold’s LAB Color channel adjustment action, and here to download the zip file containing Harold’s LAB action

My LAB Color Action is free to download for personal use. For detailed instructions regarding creative LAB color and how to best use this action, stay tuned for the new Creative LAB in Photoshop course I am doing for In Learning.

Fractal Faces Collage © Harold Davis


Posted in Photography

Before the LAB Color Creates

I’m using this image as one of the starting examples for the new course I am recording next week on working with creative LAB color in Photoshop. Click here for my existing online courses!

Anemones, Tulip, and Queen Anne’s Lace © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Marble, Don’t Jump!

The marble languidly perches on the cornice of the volumes of the collected New Yorker cartoons, high above the carpet. “Marble, don’t jump, ” I cry, as I spring into action with my new Laowa 24mm f/14 2X Macro Probe.

Marble Don’t Jump © Harold Davis

One of my first impulses when I started to learn to use this unique but totally weird lens was to put it up the central cylinders of flowers, with some results from a Calla Lily shown below. What I think I’m learning as I go along is that this lens is really about providing an ant-eye view of the world: incredibly close, wide angle, and able to fit into really tight places, and not necessarily the angle of view one would expect.

Spadix of a White Calla Lily © Harold Davis

Spadix © Harold Davis

Related story (from 2006, using more conventional macro gear): Spadix.

Posted in Photography

A Tale of Three Flower Workshops

I am giving three flower-related photography workshops in 2019. I have been asked a number of times how these workshops differ, and how they overlap—so I’d like to make things as clear as possible so that, if you are interested, you can make the right choice.

First, Photographing Flowers for Transparency in June in Berkeley is the only workshop I will be giving that exclusively focuses in depth on my light box techniques.

Poppies and Mallows on White © Harold Davis

Here are some more details about how to choose between the workshops:

The three workshops are very different in focus. My annual Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop here in Berkeley is a studio-and-Photoshop based course in photographing and processing high-key light box images. This is a complex technique, and it is the only technique the workshop covers, with the goal of getting each proficient technically capable of making this style of image on their own.

You can find the full workshop curriculum on the workshop listing page if you scroll down. The short version is that Day 1 is about arranging and photographing flowers on a light box, and Day 2 is about the related post-production. Light box work—photographing flowers for transparency—is all this workshop will cover.

In contrast, the garden and flower photography workshop at the Palm Beach Photography Centre in early February is largely a field photography workshop. We will be photographing gardens and flowers in a variety of local locations, and also exploring a spectrum of studio photography techniques in the studio, along with critiquing work with an eye to improvement and forming an individual style.

Red Tulip, Giverny © Harold Davis

The workshop will demonstrate a range of techniques, including light box work, but the light box will only be a small portion of what is covered, just enough to give a taste of the technique.

I believe the workshop description a gives a pretty good idea of what is involved. For me, my first at the Palm Beach Photo Centre, a special feature of this workshop is that it coincides with a workshop led by national photography treasure, Joyce Tenneson, Light Your Creative Spark. Joyce has a thing or two to say about many aspects of photography, including flower photography. We’re hoping to co-lead some joint workshop sessions while we are both there; and, if you’ve already taken a workshop with me, you might consider Joyce’s workshop as an alternative to repeating with me.

I will be giving a third related workshop in 2019, the week of August 11-17, 2019 at Maine Media Workshops in Rockport, Maine, where I have been teaching for a number of years. This will be a five-day workshop on photographing the great gardens of Maine. This year we have lined up some extraordinary public and private gardens to photograph. Besides the field sessions, we will also be sharing work, learning studio floral photography techniques, and exploring how to enrich our individual creativity, and to express the ineffable with flower photography. I’ll post the registration link once it is available.

Shrub Mallow © Harold Davis

So, to summarize, the Maine and Palm Beach workshops are comparable, except for where they are given, and the lengths (three days for Palm Beach versus five for Maine). Light box work will be shown in a demo, but this is probably not really enough to master the technique in-depth. The Flowers for Transparency workshop is one I give annually, and is an intensive and immersive experience that has been designed to thoroughly teach my light box techniques (but does not include any field photography or visits to locations).

Obviously, potential workshop participants need to choose what works for them in terms of their own schedule and where they are located geographically, as well as what they are most interested in. For the light box process, come to Berkeley in June. You should expect to photograph some really spectacular gardens in Maine in August with me, and in Florida enjoy February’s special flora in a great location, along with the creative synergy that Joyce and I can create (personally, I would consider just signing up for the Joyce Tenneson workshop if I weren’t teaching at the same time!).

Click here for my Workshops & Events listings.

Falling Rose Petals on Unryu washi © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Looking forward to 2019—2019 Harold Davis Workshop Schedule

In 2019 I am looking forward to another exciting year, with travel, creative projects, books to deliver, more online courses, and workshops.

If you are interested in my workshops, I particularly want to call your attention to our destination photography group visiting Paris and Monet’s gardens at Giverny in the spring. Also, the weekend Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop here in Berkeley in June guides you through the technique I have pioneered.

It is not too late to join my Paris group of select photographers, and there is still limited space in the transparency workshop.

Poem of the Road © Harold Davis

Lonely Road (Poem of the Road) © Harold Davis

May your road carry you into creative growth in 2019, with time to savor the wonder, mystery, and magic of being human, and to foster the creative spark that lives in all of us.

I have come to believe that sometimes simple is best. Who needs gaudy ephemeral things when the world around us presents perfection if we take the time to truly see?

Summer Grass © Harold Davis

Here’s my 2019 workshop schedule so far, subject to change and to sessions filling up:

  • Garden and Flower Photography, Palm Beach Photographic Centre, Palm Beach, Florida, February 8-10, 2019; click for information and registration.
  • Webinar sponsored by Topaz, Tuesday February 19, 2019 at 2PM PT—free with advance registration, registration link TBA.
  • Photograph Paris in April with Harold Davis (co-host Mark Brokering), April 27-May 5, 2019; explore and photograph the City of Light; Destination Photography Workshop includes several excursions, including after-hours photography exclusive to artists at Monet’s gardens at Giverny. Click here for more information and here for the Reservation Form; please contact us for more information. We look forward very much to photographing Paris in the spring with you!
  • Photographing Flowers for Transparency—Covers Harold’s light box and floral photography and post-production techniques; two-day workshop Saturday June 22 and Sunday June 23, 2019 located in beautiful downtown Berkeley, CA. Click here for more information and to register via Meetup.
  • Photographing the Great Gardens of Maine, August 11-17, 2019 at Maine Media Workshop. This year we’ll have a great range of public and unique private gardens to photograph. Registration page and detailed description to come.
  • Northern Morocco Photography Adventure, October 19-30, 2019 (12 Days and 11 Nights), cost is $3,200 per person. Click here for the Prospectus and FAQ, here for the complete Itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form.
Posted in Photography

On the Coming of a New Year

The coming of a new year brings reflections on the year that has past, thoughts appropriate to the last day or first day of a year, and ideas about new beginnings for a new year. In other words, all the usual Ghosts of Past, Present, and Future. 

Big Bang Fireworks © Harold Davis

It will take me quite some time to digest and synthesize all that I saw and did in 2018. It was a year of growth as a person, and as an artist, along with some pitfalls and pratfalls, both literal and figurative.

I hope to carry this growth way of thinking into 2019, savoring the wonder, mystery, and magic of being human, and of fostering the creative spark that lives in all of us. My wish is the same for you, and for humanity in general.

If you are curious, I photographed the Big Bang Fireworks image (shown above) back when I lived and worked in New York on Kodachrome 64 at the fireworks party for the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. It was used as the last frame in the sequence of 109 images introducing the popular television show The Big Bang Theory. This well-known sequence brings the viewer from the origin of things (the cosmological Big Bang) up to current times (somewhat represented by my image of fireworks).

Posted in Photography

Optical Studies

My favorite comment on this series of images, on #3, found over on Instagram: “I’ve sat here a long time looking at this!”

Optical Study 1 © Harold Davis

Optical Study 2 © Harold Davis

Optical Study 3 © Harold Davis

Optical Study 4 © Harold Davis

Optical Study 5 © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Playing with Light

For the past few days of the break between Christmas and New Years, I have been playing with light. Of course, the word photography is derived from “writing with light”—and you cannot capture the physicality of an object, only the light reflected or emitted by the object. So, from the very beginning, light and photography are intimately related. But this series more literally captures—and plays with—light than most photography. Let me explain.

In the depth of winter, the winter sun traces an arc across a large, westward-facing window towards the front of our house. The arc is low in the horizon, and short, from about 10AM to about 3PM. The quality of the sunlight is fierce: bright and strong, but at the same time with a kind of innate gentleness. It is light as light should be light.

With a white-surfaced table, I use the sunlight to “paint” images by projecting the light through vessels with colored water of various kinds and shapes (some of these carafes are clearly shown in Transmutation, the third image below), and carefully arranging the light to create my compositions. This is work done in camera, with only very minor corrections and adjustments in post-production.

World of Wonders © Harold Davis

They Walk Among Us © Harold Davis

Transmutation © Harold Davis

Related stories: Cosmic MisunderstandingThe Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions; Easy Travel to Other Planets; Life is Strange. Check out my new online Gallery of Abstracts.

Posted in Abstractions, Photography

Harold Davis—Best of 2018

2018 has been quite a year in art for me. Travel has included the Southwest of France, the Balearic Islands, a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, teaching at Maine Media Workshops, New York City, Heidelberg and Berlin Germany, Paris, Malta, and Sicily. My time at home has been productive as well. 

Below each image, I’ve added links to the relevant blog stories that include my selected images (where I blogged them). Self-selected entries from previous years going back to 2013 can be found here.

Study in Petals on Black © Harold Davis

Blog story: Studies in Petals

Red Anemone © Harold Davis

Blog story: Red Anemone

Devotional Pose © Harold Davis

Blog story: Devotional Pose

Vitruvian Woman © Harold Davis

Blog story: Vitruvian Woman

Egg © Harold Davis

Blog story: Egg

Papaver Nudicaule © Harold Davis

Blog story: Color Field of Flowers

Above the Gran Via © Harold Davis

Blog story: Above the Grand Via

Dandelion in Calvignac A © Harold Davis

Blog story: Dandelion in Calvignac

Bridge Fun © Harold Davis

Blog story: The Art of Being Alone with Oneself

Twisted © Harold Davis

Blog story: Seriously Twisted

Summer Grass © Harold Davis

Blog story: Summer Grass

Poppies and Mallows on White © Harold Davis

Poppies and Mallows on Black (Inversion) © Harold Davis

Blog story: The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency

Poppies Dancing © Harold Davis

Poppies Dancing Inversion © Harold Davis

Blog stories: Poppies Dancing and Poppies Dancing on Black

The Passion of the Rose © Harold Davis

Blog story: The Passion of the Rose

Papaver Pod from above © Harold Davis

Blog story: Papaver Poppy Pods Gone to Seed

Poem of the Road © Harold Davis

Lonely Road (Poem of the Road) © Harold Davis

Blog story: Poem of the Road

Sunflower X-Ray Fusion © Harold Davis

X-Ray, Sunflower © Harold Davis

Campanulas X-Ray on White © Harold Davis

Blog story: Revealing the Unseen with X-Ray Photography of Flowers; FAQ: X-Ray Photos of Flowers

Ladyboot Arch © Harold Davis

Blog story: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Dawn East of the Sierras © Harold Davis

Rising © Harold Davis

Red Pitcher © Harold Davis

Bridge of Light – Color Version © Harold Davis

Bridge of Light © Harold Davis

Blog story: Bridge of Light

Heceta Head Lighthouse © Harold Davis

Heceta Head © Harold Davis

Crepuscular Coast – Black and White © Harold Davis

Crepuscular Coast © Harold Davis

Blog story: Crepuscular Coast

Earthlight © Harold Davis

Blog story: Earthlight

Paris from Montmartre © Harold Davis

Blog story: View of Paris from my room

Paris Paris © Harold Davis

Blog story: Goodbye Paris

Time Machine © Harold Davis

Blog story: Time Machine

Mosta Dome © Harold Davis

Blog story: Mosta Dome

Abstract 1 © Harold Davis


Check out my self-selected bests from previous years in Best Images Annuals!

Posted in Photography

Star Gazer Lily

The Star Gazer Lily is more correctly StarGazer Lily or Lillium ‘StarGazer’, with “StarGazer” crammed together in one word. This Asiatic Lily is a fairly recent hybridization (circa 1974) of the Rubrim lily. The thing is that the flowers of the Rubrim lily faced downwards.

Downward facing petals were not popular with consumers. Leslie Woodriff, a California lily breeder, spotted a Rubrium that faced upwards. From the single specimen, he created the new hybrid, an Asiatic Lily with a builtin bias towards upward-facing flowers.

His name for the hybrid was a marketing success, and the StarGazer Lily has been a florist-industry megahit for many years. Of course, it helps that the Star Gazer is a beautiful flower, with a wonderful—but sometimes almost overwhelming—fragrance.

I made the close-up and almost abstract photos of a Star Gazer Lily shown below using a macro lens and an extension tube.

If you are interested in flowers, gardens, and flower and garden photography, I have a number of related workshops coming up in 2019:

Star Gazer Lily 1 © Harold Davis

Star Gazer Lily Anther © Harold Davis

Star Gazer Lily 3 © Harold Davis

Star Gazer Lily 4 © Harold Davis

Related story: Anthers in Love.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Cosmic Misunderstanding

Somewhat in the spirit of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, maybe it is all a misunderstanding on the cosmic scale, with the universe a multidimensional freeway interchange where we’ve all forgotton our towels!

Check out my new online Gallery of Abstracts.

Abstract 15 – Cosmic Misunderstanding © Harold Davis

Related stories: The Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions; Easy Travel to Other Planets; Life is Strange.

Posted in Photography