Landscape of Blue Layers

From the heights of the White Mountains, the ranges to the south looked blue in the haze. With very little intermediation from me, photographic capture turned these vast spaces into a layered landscape of a near abstract quality.

Landscape of Blue Layers © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Photography

Night Finger Music

A few of us arrived in Lone Pine ahead of this weekend’s night photography workshop. After dinner, we went over to the Alabama Hills to practice a little night finger music—and to experience anew the wonder of the stars in the firmament.

Night Finger Music © Harold Davis

Posted in Digital Night

Autumn Poplars

In the early morning light I photographed poplars in the golden hues of autumn. Then I experimented with longer exposures and motion. This impressionistic result was a 3 second exposure with the camera on a tripod; I moved the camera up and down for the last half of the exposure.

Autumn Poplars

Posted in Photography

Lonely Road

I had hoped to leave the haze and smoke of the Bay area behind, but coming across Yosemite and then down the eastern slope of the High Sierra we descended into a miasma. As the light and visibility faded, I stopped beside a lonely road to photograph the line of telephone poles fading into the scarcely visible mountains in the distance.

Lonely Road

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome

Early-Bird Discount: Exploring Cathar Country and the Pyrenees-Orientales

Please consider joining me on a grand photographic adventure to southwest France in spring 2018: Exploring Cathar Country and the Pyrenees-Orientales (April 28-May 7, 2018). A substantial early-bird discount ($500 per person) applies for reservations accepted by Nov 15, 2017. Click here for more information about Cathars and Cathar country, here for a detailed day-by-day itinerary (PDF), and here for the Reservation Form.

Posted in Workshops

Opening in Night Photography Workshop Oct 20-23

Due to a cancellation, we have an opening in our upcoming night photography workshop in the Eastern Sierras Oct 20-23, 2017. Click here for more info and registration. It’s not to late to join a group of compatible night photographers in Lone Pine next weekend to enjoy the stars and night skies! A $50 discount is available.

Stars My Destination © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

It Starts with a Petal and Ends with a Twist of Fate

It started with two wonderful bunches of alstromerias (“Peruvian Lilies”), one purple and one yellow. On the alstromeria flower, the blossoms have exterior petals that are mostly solid colors (e.g., somewhat translucent, but without markings). In addition, there are usually three interior petals on each blossom that are mostly “tiger striped”—and great for transparency on the light box. You can get a good close-up look at both kinds of alstromeria petals in another of my blog stories.

Alstromeria Petal Mandala © Harold Davis

After we’d enjoyed the flowers for a while, I decided to use the interior, tiger-striped petals to make a pattern. My idea was to create two concentric spirals, one from the purple petals, and one from the yellow petals.

A Simple Twist of Fate © Harold Davis

This is a design that is somewhat maze-like in nature, and I have been drawing this double spiral as long as I can remember (essentially, this is a floral version of the doodle that got me through the boredom of law school many years ago!). The finished version, depending on how you look at things (and I have heard all of these by now), can be a maze, the spiral galaxy, a school of fish, human spermatozoa, a giant’s fingerprint—or even (in the school of a pipe sometimes just being a pipe!)—flower petals.

A Simple Twist of Fate 2 © Harold Davis

With the version on white (shown at the top of this story) I thought I was done, but of course, for the wicked as for the artist, there is never any rest! No, I in truth I am not seriously wicked. Alas, as much as I might like to be a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “bad boy” I am probably not wicked at all.

I had great fun inverting the original image in LAB color in Photoshop, creating a straight “translation” of whites to black and blacks to white (the “straight” LAB inversion is the first A Simple Twist of Fate image above).

A Simple Twist of Fate 3 © Harold Davis

Looking at the simple inversion, I immediately I thought of Paul Klee, and color field painters such as Kenneth Noland and Larry Poons from the 1960s. This made me feel impelled to have fun with more complex LAB manipulations, shown here with a black background.

As you can see, it all started with a flower petal, and ended in a simple twist of fate! Of course, the intermediate steps required a certain delicacy in handling and “drawing” with flower petals, not to mention expertise in high-key HDR photography, Photoshop workflow, and creative uses of LAB.

A Simple Twist of Fate 4 © Harold Davis

Which version is your favorite (and how twisted is fate?)?

I am looking forward to printing these six images as an ensemble. A very special thanks (and a very deep discount) to any of my collectors (or a new collector) who would like to place an advance order for one of these prints—or, better yet, for the suite of all six prints (contact me to discuss, or if interested, for details of this offer)!

A Simple Twist of Fate 5 © Harold Davis

Posted in Patterns, Photograms

Chorus of One

I worked with model Jin N Tonic to create a number of images in my Multiple Exposures series. In Chorus of One, I think Jin did a great job of positioning and placement (as well as having enthusiasm, and looking a bit like Marilyn). Jin’s ability to precisely place her body helped to create a sense of pattern across the eight times the strobes fired (each one being an exposure that was combined in-camera using its multiple exposure capability).

Chorus of One © Harold Davis

My Multiple Exposure images use choreographed, in-camera multiple exposures to create an almost stop-motion effect. I like what one can do with this approach, because it combines a technique as old as photography (in-camera multiple exposures) with the full power of modern digital technology. Why, I remember when…to make a multiple exposure on my old Nikon FM-2 you had to press a little button next to the wind lever, to fool the camera into thinking you had actually advanced the film to a new frame. Very mechanical, and yes it was possible to foul it up. Today, it is just a menu item.

Boys and girls, if you try this at home, remember to leave Autogain set to On; this is what balances the separate exposures together instead of letting brighter exposures prevail.

Posted in Multiple Exposures, Photography

Podcast with Harold Davis: A New Era for Black & White


Internationally-known digital artist and award-winning photographer Harold Davis joins the Mid CenturyBooks podcast to discuss his 2017 book, THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S BLACK AND WHITE HANDBOOK

Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) © Harold Davis

Part 2, A New Era for Black and White

Harold Davis: “We came to the end of an era, pretty much, with film photography, and in fact, there was a time when the only photography anyone could do was black and white. Then, color film photography became the ascendant thing. And now we have an entirely new art form with a lot of new craft involved, and the idea behind the technical parts of this book, and it’s not that I’m going to tell everybody exactly what slider to press, with what software, but more the principles and ideas of how digital black and white photography work.”

Click here for the podcast, and see the latest additions to the Mid Century Books (sponsor of this podcast) photography collection

Click here for Part 1 of the podcast, Black & White Photography in the Digital Age.

Posted in Photography, Writing

Announcing a new session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency—June 23-24, 2018

We’re pleased to announce by popular demand a new session of Harold’s acclaimed Photographing Flowers for Transparency weekend workshop, to be held in Berkeley, CA Saturday and Sunday June 23 and 24, 2018. Enrollment is limited. Registration opens Jan 1, 2018 on a first-come-first-served basis.

Click here for more information about this workshop, here for the Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ, and here for Harold’s upcoming event, workshop, and destination photo tour schedule. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

The Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop is a great deal of fun, and covers Harold’s light box techniques as well as related topics (see the partial list below). If you are interested in Harold’s unique approaches, this is the best way to learn. Each participant will produce their own fully processed images following Harold’s lectures and demonstrations, and with Harold’s personal hands-on supervision.

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Topics covered in the Photographing Flowers for Transparency Workshop include:

  • Floral arrangement and composition
  • Botanical art in the digital era
  • Shooting on a light box
  • Understanding high-key post-production
  • Working with Photoshop layers
  • High-key HDR
  • LAB color effects
  • Backgrounds and textures
  • Preparing to make floral pigment prints
  • Tips & techniques from Harold Davis
  • Implementing one’s own vision

Flowers at School © Harold Davis

Here are what some participants in Harold’s recent Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshops have said:

  • “Harold is unmatchable! An honor to be able to be able to have him as a mentor…. for photography and for life.”
  • “AWESOME!!! Harold has a great teaching style, and it was great to learn some new shooting and post-processing techniques.”
  • “Excellent!!! Recommend to anyone who wants to take their flower art to the next level.”
  • “Amazing teacher! Patient, knowledgeable, thoughtful and sharing, easy to learn from. Looking forward to many more workshops with Harold! What a total gem… “

Floral Composition © Harold Davis

From Harold’s introductory note to workshop participants:

My belief is that folks learn most when they are hands-on, and having fun. So we will be doing a great deal of flower arrangement and flower photography—and I think along with new ways of seeing, you will learn some techniques, and ways of using your camera, that may not have occurred to you before.

These new approaches are great with flower photography, but also go way beyond floral subject matter, and are really applicable to many kinds of photography.

Besides floral photography, floral arrangement, working on a light box, and various kinds of special lighting effects, we will be exploring high-key HDR, post-production in Photoshop, backgrounds and textures, and LAB color, and much more. As you can see, it will be a very special, busy, and creative weekend!

Click here for more information about this workshop, here for the Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ, and here for Harold’s upcoming event, workshop, and destination photo tour schedule. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Workshops

A Tale of Two Flowers

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Some flowers were naughty and some were nice. The question was, would the naughty flowers find their inner goodness and be willing to wilt to save the innocent blossom? Would the madness of the revolting peasants—truly deplorable this time—prevail, or would society pull back from the brink of chaos? Stay tuned, and put your money on the Dahlia or the Sunflower. 

These are the kinds of fantasies we amuse ourselves with as we wait for sixty second exposure to conclude, camera on tripod, hardly daring to breath!

Sunflower Central © Harold Davis


Dahlia in Scarlet © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Dandelion Center for Triptych

I prepared this black and white split version of a dandelion core for a triptych, with the split black/white version flanked by an LAB inversion of the image on the left and a “straight” version on white on the right. I think the image works well on its own, but you can also see a version of the triptych assemblage as designed at the bottom of this story.

Dandelion Center for Triptych © Harold Davis

Here’s the way I intend the triptych to be displayed (these prints are fairly large) from black through gray to white:

Posted in Photography

San Francisco Sunset from Port Oakland

Yesterday I hosted a Meetup primarily to provide a forum for Rafael of PhotoPills to explain the PhotoPills planning software to interested photographers, and also for the fun of hanging out with fellow photographers. There were old friends and new friends, but first we almost ended before we began, as the original location at Middleshore Park in Oakland was usurped by a concert. Quick on our feet, we changed the location to Port View Park, a short distance away, where we socialized on a pier, listened to Rafael, and photographed the spectacular sunset.

San Francisco Sunset © Harold Davis

Image above: three combined exposures, each exposure at 78mm, f/7.1, and ISO 64, tripod mounted; exposure times 2.5 seconds, 5 seconds, and 8 seconds. Image below: photographed at 300mm, handheld, 1/8000 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 200.

San Francisco Sunset from Port Oakland © Harold Davis

Posted in San Francisco Area

Exploring Cathar Country: Detailed Itinerary Now Available

Exploring Cathar Country (April 28-May 7, 2018): A Photographic Journey with Harold Davis

The detailed itinerary for this photographic pilgrimage into the historic and spiritual world of the Cathars and southwest France is now available. Click here to download the PDF.

Click here for overview information and here for the Reservation Form (early-bird discount applies through November 15, 2017)

In the twelfth century in the part of the world that is today southwestern France, a new set of religious beliefs coalesced and came to be known as the Cathar heresy. The Cathars believed in a supreme being and god of light, utterly unconcerned with matters of this world, and in a direct individual interaction with this god with no need for inter-mediation by the hierarchy of an established religion.

As one would expect, this view was anathema to the Catholic Church. In the early 1200s the church unleashed the Albigensian Crusade against the Cathar heresy under the aegis of the notorious Simon de Montfort. Power, religion, spirituality, and politics mixed, and by the end of the crusade the formerly independent country of Languedoc was firmly under the temporal sway of the King of France and the religious sway of the Catholic Church.

Pont Vieux, Albi © Harold Davis

Against the backdrop of this romantic and dramatic history, we will explore the ancient centers of Catharism. In Albi, the birthplace of the artist Toulouse-Lautrec, we will walk across the bridge that spans the River Tarn and has been in continuous use for a thousand years, and marvel at the Basilica of Saint Cecile, built as a symbol of religious intolerance. In Carcassone, we will spend time exploring the incredibly romantic reconstruction of a medieval citadel by Viollet-le-Duc.

Carcassone © Harold Davis

Moving into the mountains, from a comfortable base we will explore the crags and remote fastnesses of the Pyrénées-Orientales. No one will ever forget a visit to the melancholy Montsegur, where following a devastating siege, hundreds of Cathars hurled themselves into the abyss or were burnt at the stake rather than renounce their faith, or to the Château de Quéribus, where the last of the Cathars eked out their wilderness survival against a world that seemed to have gone mad.

Château de Quéribus © Harold Davis

Wild, craggy peaks and deep canyon valleys dominate the Pyrénées-Orientales in scenery somewhat reminiscent of parts of the American West. The Pyrénées-Orientales and old Languedoc is a region where the wildness of the landscape and the flavor of Spanish cuisine mingles with traditional French culture to create a unique and very special world apart. 

While the primary emphasis of this journey will be photography, we’ll also take the time to learn more about Catharite beliefs, enjoy the unique culture, wild scenery, and cuisine of Cathar Country and the Pyrénées-Orientales.

Château de Saissac © Harold Davis

The detailed itinerary for this photographic pilgrimage into the historic and spiritual world of the Cathars and southwest France is now available. Click here to download the PDF.

Click here for overview information and here for the Reservation Form (early-bird discount applies through November 15, 2017).

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Light Box Floral Composition with Sunflowers, Irises, Alstromerias, and Glads

I’ve been taking advantage of my interlude at home (being at home for me has become increasingly rare in recent years and hence an unexpected pleasure) to photograph flowers on the light box. It’s fun doing this surrounded by family, as in “Don’t move, Daddy’s exposing!”

I photographed this relatively complex composition using my Photographing Flowers for Transparency set of techniques in two panels, with six exposures each. In post-production, first I combined the exposures, then I put the two panels together to create the composition.

Floral Composition © Harold Davis

I used an LAB color invert adjustment, and some fairly simple LAB tweaks, to created an inverted version of the original composition, on a black background rather than on white.

Floral Composition Inversion © Harold Davis

What do I do when I am at home fooling around with flowers? Here are some other recent stories: Black Dahlia; Rose Rose in Rose and Black and White; Pretty in Pink; and Flowers for Kwangsik. Also check out Of Beauty and Art, The Long and Winding Road Takes the Path Less Traveled; and an announcement of an upcoming exhibition of my work (opening November 9, 2017).

Posted in Flowers