Remembering Martin and Virginia Davis

My parents Martin and Virginia Davis both died on Sunday, January 1, 2023. They were in their nineties. My father had been sick for a long while and in a great deal of pain, so in some ways his death is a relief. Martin and Virginia had been married for 71 years, and Virginia said she didn’t want to live without Martin.

After the hospice nurse confirmed Martin’s death, Virginia kissed him and then went back to bed. A short time later she was gone. I think she died of a broken heart. Both were peaceful looking in death. It was as if Martin held out his hand to Virginia, and said, “Come on. Let’s go!”

Martin and Virginia in 2011 © Harold Davis

My parents soon after they met (circa 1951) 

Both my parents were remarkable and unconventional people. Here’s what my brother Nathan wrote about Martin’s professional career:

Martin Davis  was considered a pioneering figure in the history and development of the computer science field. In his last decade, he was regarded the primary world exponent of Alan Touring’s seminal work in logic and computability theory (they shared the same same thesis advisor at Princeton University—Alonzo Church—though my father attended a decade later). My father coined the phrase “computability,” per his first and seminal book: Computability and Unsolvability. His work towards the solution of Hilbert’s Tenth problem is another factor that places him historically in transitioning the theoretical mathematical field of symbolic logic to the advent of computer science.

You can learn more about Martin’s professional life here.

Virginia was a fiber artist who exhibited widely, was the recipient of many awards, and was dearly beloved by a wide circle of colleagues. Here’s how her website puts it:

After studying art in London and at the Art Students League in New York, Virginia Davis has had her work in solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries, nationally and internationally. She uses ikat, a technique of applying color to threads before they are woven into a textile, not only for the dimension it gives her work, but also for its historical and ethnographic aspects. She teaches, lectures and writes on this and other subjects. Her awards include an Indo-American Fellowship to India, two fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, two individual Visual Artist grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, NEA sponsored residences at the Cité International des Artes in Paris and in Mexico City, and most recently, a grant from the Ruth Chenven Foundation. In addition to private collections, her work is in the collections of The Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, Museum of North Dakota, and Hewlett-Packard.

Martin Davis as a young man

On a personal note, while the past year has been unequivocally difficult, I miss them both tremendously. I keep find myself wanting to share something with one or both of them, and then having to remind myself that I no longer can.

Martin taught me to play chess, to program computers at an early age, to enjoy Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, and what the Hegelian dialectic has to do with Karl Marx’s Das Kapital (on the last one, you can ask me if you are curious).

From Virginia I learned to trust my intuition, to explore art as play, and to appreciate some of the finer points of craft.

There are no tears deep enough, but it is some consolation to know they are together and at peace at last.

White Anemone © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Wrapping up the Year: Flower Close-Ups

White Anemone © Harold Davis

Heading into a new year, I always like to look back through my photography of the waning year to see what I might have overlooked. Here are a few candidates in the “flower: close-ups” category. 

Best wishes to all for a great 2023!

Poppy in Pink © Harold Davis

All things must pass © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

My parents soon after they met

This is a photo of my parents, Martin and Virginia, taken soon after they met, probably in 1952 or 1953, and most likely on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champagn-Urbana, where my Dad had his first post-doctorate teaching assignment.

My parents soon after they met © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Wishing you joy and light this holiday season!

Posted in Photography

Harold Davis—Best of 2022

2022—another “interesting” year! Travel brought me to Maine, Colorado, France (twice, once in the spring and once in the autumn), Spain, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy. Professional highlights included the publication of Composition & Photography, seeing my work as U.S. Postage stamps, and receiving the PSA Progress Award. Many flowers were photographed!

I’ve been making my “personal choice” best-of selections for many years, going back to 2013. These selections can be found here. My choices are idiosyncratic, based on no discernible criteria whatsoever, and simply are my personal taste. These selections are by no means complete. A more thorough catalog of my work can be found on Flickr, Instagram, and on my blog (but many of my images never get blogged even if I like them).

Starting in January, 2022, with Purple Tulip, I used my macro probe lens placed inside the outer petals of the floral blossom. Read more.

Purple Tulip © Harold Davis

Petal Dancer made me laugh, because the composition of this partially dried flower petal seems to resemble a high-stepping dancer.

Petal Dancer © Harold Davis

Speaking Truth to Power, created in March, 2022, is self-evidently an abstract work. But truth, justice, peace, and kindness can be in such short supply—and creating this kind of patterned abstraction helps to calm me in the face of the heedlessness of the world. The colors—Iris and Daffodils, with invading Tulips— are intended to bring those of Ukraine to mind.

Speaking Truth to Power © Harold Davis

About Calla Lilly Study #4, Scarlet Black on Flickr comments: “I love how this close up references subjects beyond the flower. Sun, celestial bodies, orbits and galaxy swirls step into the frame once imagination lets go of the calla lily. Even with that imaginative detour, the flower is nice to come back to.”

Calla Lily Study #4 © Harold Davis

Flowers Party Too! Yes. Well of course they do.

Flowers Party Too! © Harold Davis

I am always amazed at the the delicate intricacy of flowers in the Protea genus. My image is an attempt to render both the complexity and delightful delicacy of this flower in monochromatic, using a light box.

Proteus Monochrome Light Box © Harold Davis

Quantum Entanglement is only vaguely understood and seems pretty weird. In my image I hoped to echo this sense of scientific befuddlement using glassware, a light box, an LAB inversion, and compositing. Read more.

Quantum Entanglement © Harold Davis

In April I left for France. Spending some time photographing Paris with friends was great fun. Some of the images I made were from the footpath on the Ile aux Cygnes, and showed reflections in the windows of the buildings of modern Paris.

Parallel Reflections © Harold Davis

In my blog, I noted after arriving in Toulouse “the hubbub of the nearly perpetual marketplace in the Place du Capitole (shown below from a window in my hotel).” Read more.

Place du Capitole, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Along the Camino de Santiago, I made a grab shot into a mirror. Read more.

Dr Caligari’s House © Harold Davis

Back home after various adventures and misadventures, I posed the question “what if James Bond had liked flowers more than guns, gadgets, fast women, and cars?” in Too Many Tulips Are Not Enough. [Answer: the world might be a kinder, gentler, and more colorful place.] Read more.

Too Many Tulips Are Not Enough © Harold Davis

Flowers make such interesting patterns. One such is shown in Dodecagram Papaver Pod.

Dodecagram Papaver Pod © Harold Davis

What happens when you use my light box techniques for Photographing Flowers for Transparency without a light box? I decided to find out in Florista on White. Read more.

Florista on White © Harold Davis

Over my garden gate, the Clematis vine is thriving, provided we keep its “feet” moist. Two of the Clematis flowers bloomed together, and I cropped them to make this composition on the light box. Read more.

Clematis in Love © Harold Davis

As summer 2022 began, I created a bouquet. Read more.

Summer Bouquet © Harold Davis

Some flowers remind me of sea creatures, an idea I explored in Do Flowers Come from the Sea? Read more

Do Flowers Come from the Sea? © Harold Davis

In Lavatera trimestris I used my macro probe lens to create a different view of a Rose mallow, with an idea to showing details and symmetry.

Lavatera trimestris © Harold Davis

I taught Composition & Photography at Maine Media Workshops in September, and had a great, small group of students. It was great fun getting to photograph “stuff” that I didn’t have to take care of, store, or own! One such collection is shown in Tripping the Glass Fantastic.

Tripping the Glass Fantastic © Harold Davis

From Maine I went to Colorado, where I photographed this steam train. Read more.

Steam Train © Harold Davis

Starting in October, I was in Europe. There was almost too much to photograph. One such sight was the Himbachel Viaduct. Read more.

Himbachel Viaduct © Harold Davis

In Heidelberg, Germany I made X-Ray and Fusion X-Ray images of flowers with my friend Julian Kopke. Read more.

Dahlia X-Ray © Harold Davis

Calla Lilly Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Julian and I enjoyed the Tuscan landscape, particularly the early mornings wreathed in fog.

Morning Comes Softly © Harold Davis

In Orvieto, in Umbria, there was much to photograph, including the spectacular Duomo. Read more.

Duomo Window © Harold Davis

Duomo in the Morning Fog © Harold Davis

Duomo in the Clearing Fog © Harold Davis

Early Morning, Orvieto © Harold Davis

Closed © Harold Davis

St Patrick’s Well, or Pozzo di San Patrizio, is located in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. There are 248 steps down (and up). The view in my image is looking up at the daylight at the top of the well. The whole thing is like a tower that goes down into the ground, rather than standing above it. Read more.

Well of St Patrick’s © Harold Davis

In Florence, I enjoyed an exhibition of work by M.C. Escher, and was surprised to learn how much he was influenced by the Italian landscape (one just doesn’t think of Escher in the context of landscape, at least I don’t)!

I moved on to Trieste, and photographed the hotel where I was staying, and contemplated Escher. Read more.

Mirror Selfie © Harold Davis

Hotel Savoy, Trieste © Harold Davis

Venice is one of the places in the world I most enjoy visiting and photographing. Of course, like everyone else, I always try to visit when no other visitors are there!

Gondolas © Harold Davis

Back home for the waning of the year, there are always flowers to photograph! With Floral Gestures, as the title implies, I was trying to create a composition where the image was gestural, almost as it one was having a conversation in the wild with a floral entity.

Floral Gestures © Harold Davis

Every flower is unique, of course, which is part of what I enjoy so much about photographing them. This Chrysanthemum somehow makes their individuality very apparent to me, hence the title.

Every Flower Unique © Harold Davis

I hope you’ve enjoyed this overview of my 2022 photography Odyssey. This year has been not without challenges for myself and our family, but I always find it worthwhile to review what I’ve done artistically.

Most of my images are available as prints. If you are interested, please let me know.

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

Posted in Best Of

Fusion X-Rays

These two flower images are fusion X-Rays: one part medical X-Ray combined with one part light box photo. I created them last month in collaboration with my friend Dr Julian Kopke, radiologist and photographer extraordinaire. Some more info about the fusion process can be found in this story.

Check out the X-Ray category on my blog, and my portfolio of X-Ray images.

Calla Lilly Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Rose Bouquet – Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, X-Ray

2022 PSA Progress Award

The Photographic Society of America (PSA) gives their Progress Award annually to recognize “a person who has made an outstanding contribution to the progress of photography or an allied subject. The recipient does not have to be a member of the Society.”

I’m proud and grateful to be the 2022 recipient of this award, specifically cited for “the development of a high key digital HDR workflow and set of techniques involving specific kinds of back lighting that make it possible to create luminous translucent imagery.”

Given annually since 1948, previous recipients of the Progress Award include Walt Disney, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Eliot Porter, Robert N. Noyce, John & Thomas Knoll, and Ken Burns. I’m excited to be part of this august company (as you can see in the iPhone photo below, snapped by Nicholas Davis)—and look forward to moving creatively onward from here!

Posted in Photography


It’s great to be home. The image shows a ceramic bowl I bought as a gift for Phyllis in Orvieto, with lemons from our tree.

Lemon Bowl © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Mirror Selfie

I took advantage of the mirrors in my dressing room in the hotel in Trieste to create a “recursive” image along the lines of the Droste effect (immediately below). This kind of image making has its own chapter in my book Composition & Photography.

Mirror Selfie © Harold Davis

Perhaps what brought the Droste effect to mind was an M.C.Escher exhibit I had just seen in Florence. In one fun, interactive feature, I was encouraged to snap an iPhone shot of myself (instead of Escher) in his famous lithograph of a reflective ball (below).

At the Escher Exhibit © Harold Davis

Posted in iPhone, Monochrome, Photography

The Second Creepiest Hotel Room on My Visit to Italy

Well, the “first creepiest” room was definitely the one in Orvieto that had a large reproduction of a painting of Death playing chess with his dying victim hung right over the bed. I hung a bedspread over this grotesque art so I wouldn’t see Death peering at me at night from the mirror across the room.

Storm, Trieste © Harold Davis

This room in Trieste is also creepy, more for what is outside the room than the room itself. The room is over-large, tasteless, and grandiose—but on the whole these are venal not mortal sins, and could even be fun, depending on whom one might be sharing the room with.

But I am on the fifth floor (sixth by American reckoning), and it is a long way down to Trieste’s harbor. In the storm the other night, this magnificent old building groaned and rattled. The balconies out the doors provide only a low railing, almost no protection. While potentially dangerous to the lonely and suggestible traveler, this eyrie also provides an enticing perch for photography.

Posted in Italy, Photography

Sailing Yacht A

Sailing Yacht A (“Sy A”) is a super yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch that was seized by Italian authorities in Trieste harbor in March, 2022. Sy A remains anchored off Trieste; in the image below it is shown in yesterday’s storm, and in the bottom image today in better weather.

Ghost Ship © Harold Davis

Sailing Yacht A © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography

Florence Rainbow

A few days ago, my friend Julian and I walked up to the Michelangelo Piazza for a view above Florence. We were welcomed with a display of sun, clouds, rain—and a rainbow.

Some other rainbows: Strasbourg’s Petite France, Paris, Patriarch Grove, Prague, and the Alabama Hills (in the eastern Sierra). 

Rainbows always symbolize hope and beauty for me. I feel fortunate to have witnessed so many rainbows—photography is a great enabler of this.

I keep in mind the Ansel Adams dictum that if you don’t go out in the rain you’ll never witness the clearing storm. The same can be said of rainbows.

Rainbow over Florence © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography

Duomo in the Clearing Fog

The day dawned with a white-out fog blanketing the Umbrian hill town of Orvieto. I wandered through the maze of ancient, deserted streets and alleys with my camera on the tripod, making images in the evocative light. Rounding a corner onto the Piazza del Duomo, I saw for the first time the sun rising through the fog (my image is below).

Duomo in the Morning Fog © Harold Davis

Later in the morning, Julian and I climbed the many steps to the top of the Torre del Moro. We had this eyrie to ourselves in a world of whiteness, but decided to have patience, and settled in to wait. Over an hour later, after noon, the fog started to break, and when it moved, it moved quickly. I had only a moment or two to capture Duomo in the Clearing Fog (below).

Duomo in the Clearing Fog © Harold Davis

Posted in Italy, Photography

St Patrick’s Well

St Patrick’s Well, or Pozzo di San Patrizio, is located in Orvieto, Umbria, Italy. There are 248 steps down (and up). The view in my image is looking up at the daylight at the top of the well. The whole thing is like a tower that goes down into the ground, rather than standing above it. The design uses a double spiral stair, with 70 windows from the stair into the shaft of the well. The point of this double spiral was to allow mules to go down and fill vessels and come back up the second spiral without any traffic jams. I sure felt like a mule going down and then up this structure with my friend Julian!

St Patrick’s Well © Harold Davis

St Patrick’s Well was built on orders from Pope Clement VII who had taken refuge at Orvieto during the sack of Rome in 1527 by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. The Pope wanted to make sure there would be enough water in event of a siege.

The rather odd name for the well was inspired by St Patrick’s Purgatory in Ireland. This is a cave supposedly shown St Patrick by Christ that is said to go down all the way to purgatory (and, yes, climbing out of the well with my camera gear did indeed feel purgatorial!).

From a photographic viewpoint, I am interested in the feeling of light in my image, considering how dark it was down there at the bottom of the well (I had to use my headlamp to see what I was doing with the camera).

Posted in Italy

Dahlia X-Ray

This image is a pretty straightforward x-ray of a rather small Dahlia blossom. Julian and I made the exposure last week at his radiology practice near Heidelberg. In post-production, I converted to LAB color. Next, I used a series of curve adjustments to equalize the various densities in the image. Long live the Dahlia!

Dahlia X-Ray © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome, Photograms, Photography, X-Ray