White Tulip—Three Ways!

White Tulips (Wabi-Sabi) © Harold Davis

White Tulips (Wabi-Sabi) © Harold Davis

 

White Tulip (Close-Up) © Harold Davis

White Tulip (Close-Up) © Harold Davis

 

White Tulip (Simulated IR) © Harold Davis

White Tulip (Simulated IR) © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Last Light

As the last light of day touches the sea-kissed cliffs, it is important to keep in mind that although night may follow day, day also follows night. Be of good cheer, and Happy New Year! There is always light beyond.

Last Light © Harold Davis

Last Light © Harold Davis

There is always light beyond © Harold Davis

There is always light beyond © Harold Davis

Sunset beyond the Bridge © Harold Davis

Sunset beyond the Bridge © Harold Davis

Posted in Landscape, Monochrome, Photography

Big Sur Coast from Bixby Bridge Overlook

As sunset turns to dusk, and dusk to night, colors linger on the towering westward-facing Pacific cliffs of the Big Sur peninsula. Long after the landscape is a murky, dark gray to human eyes, the camera explores, captures, and records these gorgeous colors.

Big Sur Coast from Bixby Bridge Overlook © Harold Davis

Big Sur Coast from Bixby Bridge Overlook © Harold Davis

Photographed looking south from the overlook at the north end of Bixby Bridge about an hour after sunset with my camera on the tripod. Three combined exposures at 78mm focal length: 90 seconds and f/8 at ISO 64; 90 seconds and f/8 at ISO 200; 30 seconds and f/8 at ISO 64. Exposures processed in Adobe Camera RAW (ACR) and Photoshop, using Nik and Topaz filters, and my own LAB color techniques.

Related stories: Bixby Bridge; Bixby Bridge Blues; Bixby Bridge by Starlight.

Posted in Landscape, Photography

Night Vision Exhibition at the Weston Gallery

Yesterday I made a photographic trip to the Big Sur coast. It was a spectacular day for photography, and some images will no doubt follow in the due fullness of time! I was pleased to be able to stop in Carmel-by-the-Sea to view the Night Vision: Photographing in the Dark exhibition at the Weston Gallery.

Me at the Weston Gallery

Me at the Weston Gallery

Yes, that’s me in the iPhone snapshot between a print of one of my favorite Ernst Haas images, Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1969, and my own Starry Night.

Since you can’t really see my Starry Night image from the iPhone shot I’ve reproduced it below. It’s a real honor (thanks Weston Gallery!) to be included along with Haas and many of my photographic idols such as Bernice Abbott, Wynn Bullock, Robert Frank, Michael Kenna, André Kertész, and Jerry Uelsmann. A spectacular print of the famous night seascape with a lightening strike by Bob Kolbrener is also included in the exhibit.

One interesting point is that most of the photographs in Night Vision are in the old school tradition: silver-halide prints made on photo sensitive paper using an enlarger, mostly photographed with medium or large format film. I think the Haas image and mine are the only color prints in the exhibit, and I think mine is the only digital (rather than film) photo.

Night Vision will be on display until January 8, 2017.  If you are in the Carmel area, or get the chance to visit, I strongly urge you to stop by the Weston Gallery and check out this beautiful exhibition. While Night Vision should be particularly be of compelling interest if you want to become a better night photographer, anyone who is simply interested in fine photography shouldn’t miss the chance to check it out.

Starry Night © Harold Davis

Starry Night © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Greetings of the Season

2016-holiday

Posted in Photography

Mums the Word

I pulled these pretty images of a field of chrysanthemums on a light box from my files, and processed it the other day. Did you know that “Odour of Chrysanthemums” was D.H. Lawrence’s first published prose fiction, accepted by Ford Maddox Ford, the then editor of The English Review, partly on the basis of the subtlety of the title—chrysanthemums in fact only smell faintly. 

Related story: Digital Pop Art.

Mums the Word 2 © Harold Davis

Mums the Word 2 © Harold Davis

 

Mums the Word © Harold Davis

Mums the Word © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

My Best of 2016

2016 is a year of the fire monkey. This is by way of saying that one should rightfully have expected the unexpected. The monkey is a trickster, and not always kind—like Coyote and Loki a divine spirit, but a divinity whose intervention can have unforeseen and sometimes undesired consequences.

Personally, my work has taken me abroad at home, and at home abroad—with some unexpected adventures and side trips along the way.

Regarding travel, I like to say, “Want to make more interesting images? Then put yourself in front of more interesting things.” But the external world only goes so far, so the next step is to say, “Want to make more interesting images? Then become a more interesting person.”

In an early chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, it becomes clear to the ring-bearer Frodo (and the reader) that unspeakable evil has risen again from the shadows of the past. The following dialog between Frodo and the wizard Gandalf ensues:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

In that spirit, I wish you health, joy in life, and the comfort of creativity in the coming year!

With that, and without too much further ado, please check out my self-selected best images of 2016 (in more or less chronological order, click on each image to see it larger).

If you have the time and inclination, perhaps in a quest for inspiration, you can also peruse my Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and Best of 2013.

Orchids in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Orchids in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

Best Friends © Harold Davis

Best Friends © Harold Davis

 

Upper White River Falls © Harold Davis

Upper White River Falls © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Painting with Flowers © Harold Davis

Painting with Flowers © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Cordes sur Ciel at Dawn © Harold Davis

Cordes sur Ciel at Dawn © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

The Wild and the Tame © Harold Davis

The Wild and the Tame © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Shout to the Soul © Harold Davis

Shout to the Soul © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Nude Descending a Ladder after Duchamp © Harold Davis

Nude Descending a Ladder © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Conjuror © Harold Davis

Conjuror © Harold Davis

 

Coming to Life © Harold Davis

Coming to Life © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Wheel of Flowers (on White) © Harold Davis

Wheel of Flowers (on White) © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Sunflower Ambrotype © Harold Davis

Sunflower Ambrotype © Harold Davis

 

Pont Neuf, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Pont Neuf, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Planet of the Succulents © Harold Davis

Planet of the Succulents © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Fedora © Harold Davis

Fedora © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Manifestation © Harold Davis

Manifestation © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores © Harold Davis

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

Garden Party © Harold Davis

Garden Party © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Eye of Sauron in His Cups © Harold Davis

Eye of Sauron in His Cups © Harold Davis

 

Dawn on Lake Como © Harold Davis

Dawn on Lake Como © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Duomo di Pavia © Harold Davis

Duomo di Pavia © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Tuscan Landscape © Harold Davis

Tuscan Landscape © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Towers of San Gimignano © Harold Davis

Towers of San Gimignano © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Long Exposure Wave Study 2, South Beach © Harold Davis

Long Exposure Wave Study 2, South Beach © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

 

Flower Tondo 1 Variation Inversion © Harold Davis

Flower Tondo 1 Variation Inversion © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

Last Light © Harold Davis

Last Light © Harold Davis

Read my original blog story about this image.

Posted in Photography

Floral Tondo Variations

Which of these versions of my first floral tondo do you like better? My favorite is Flower Tondo 1 Variation Inversion, shown immediately below on black, without the fancy curvilinear “virtual” framing of the original version (and the bottom variation). What do you think? Comment or write and let me know if you have a choice!

Flower Tondo 1 Variation Inversion © Harold Davis

Flower Tondo 1 Variation Inversion © Harold Davis

 

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

 

Floral Tondo Inversion 1 © Harold Davis

Floral Tondo Inversion 1 © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers

Floral Tondo

Tondo is a Renaissance term for a circular painting. To create my floral tondo, I started with a circular pattern on my light box. I arranged an array of petals—mostly alstromeria but also some rose petals and Agapanthus blossoms—around the central core of a rose. I then photographed the composition for transparency (see my FAQ for more info on this technique).

Floral Tondo 1 © Harold Davis

Floral Tondo 1 © Harold Davis

In post-production, after processing my high-key layer stack, I added a black background to emphasize the tondo effect, and used the Warp transform in Photoshop to make the flowers seem to slightly wrap around the white space created by the circular background.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Five Minute Wave Exposures

In the practice of modern photography, an exposure as long as five minutes duration during daytime hours seems like eternity. This is particularly true in the context of the raging Pacific Ocean along the outer beaches of Point Reyes, which is always churning and in frantic motion.

To achieve this effect near sunset on South Beach, with my camera on a tripod, I added a +4 neutral density filter, a polarizer, and lowered the ISO while stopping the lens down (I’ve noted the full exposure data below; these exposures shifted as the scene got darker).

From a visual viewpoint, the long exposure time reduces the seascape of beach, waves, and sky to elemental horizontal lines—perhaps almost a landscape in the sense that a Rothko color field painting is a landscape. Looking at this in another way, the long exposure time performs a kind of mathematical role, and reduces the random chaos of the storm-tossed inter-tidal zone to the basic overall patterns, teasing out consistency where nature produces apparent chaos.

Long Exposure Wave Study 2, South Beach © Harold Davis

Long Exposure Wave Study 2, South Beach © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Both images Nikon D810, +4 ND filter, circular polarizer; Upper image: 44mm, 299 seconds at f/29 and ISO 31; Bottom image: 65mm, 299 seconds at f/16 and ISO 64.

Long Exposure Wave Study, South Beach © Harold Davis

Long Exposure Wave Study, South Beach © Harold Davis

Related story: Face of the Deep.

Posted in Photography

Calligraphy of Flowers

I am a great fan of artistic calligraphy, particularly as seen in Japan and in historic Islamic cultures. So when I arranged these flowers on my light box I tried to very loosely emulate the appearance of the graceful form of the Bismillah. Nature is the language of the divine, and surely whatever one’s culture one can say it using flowers.

Calligraphy of Flowers on White © Harold Davis

Calligraphy of Flowers on White © Harold Davis

 

Calligraphy of Flowers on Black © Harold Davis

Calligraphy of Flowers on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Flowers Round-Robin in a Workshop

This image was made as an in-class demo of light box flower arrangement and post-production. I called on each workshop participant to choose a stem, then arranged them one-by-one on my light box. The top image is an LAB inversion of the composition, the middle image is placed on a scanned background using my background placement blending mode algorithm, and the bottom image is shown as photographing for high-key HDR on a white background.

Flowers 12.03.16 Inverted Version © Harold Davis

Flowers 12.03.16 Inverted Version © Harold Davis

Flowers 12.03.2016 with Background © Harold Davis

Flowers 12.03.2016 with Background © Harold Davis

Flowers on White 12.03.2016 © Harold Davis

Flowers on White 12.03.2016 © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Workshops

Workshop Feedback and a Yellow Rose

I’m very pleased with some of the great feedback for the recent Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop. Here’s what some folks said:

  • “Just a fabulous creative presentation for flowers that has so much potential for us to explore. Enjoyed it immensely.”
  • “It was a wonderful workshop, inspirational, much information and tips and tricks a lot.”
  • “Wonderful – very educational for me, nicely organized and inspirational. Thank You Harold! (and Phyllis:) )”
  • “Organized, articulate, creative, in other words fantastic!”

Thanks to a really great creative and energetic group! We couldn’t do it without you, and I am so grateful. You can check out some of the floral art made by participants in this workshop in the Meetup album.

Yellow Rose © Harold Davis

Yellow Rose © Harold Davis

I have two upcoming flower photography workshops scheduled in 2017: Photographing Flowers for Transparency (March 11-12) and Flower Photography Masterclass 4-Day Intensive (June 22-23). If you love flower photography and flowers, please consider joining us for one of these celebrations of floral beauty!

Posted in Flowers, Workshops

Free Webinar: A Homeopathic Approach to Adjustments with Harold Davis and Topaz

Definition of homeopathya system of medical practice that treats a disease especially by the administration of minute doses of a remedy that would in larger amounts produce in healthy persons symptoms similar to those of the disease. In other words, while a great deal of a homeopathic remedy might kill one, a pinch of homeopathy can be great. I use the concepts of homeopathy as a metaphor for how I work with some Photoshop adjustments and filters.

Free Webinar: A Homeopathic Approach to Adjustments with Harold Davis and Topaz—Advance registration is required—Tuesday, December 13 2016 at 2PM PT—Click here to register.

Towers of San Gimignano © Harold Davis

Towers of San Gimignano © Harold Davis

Webinar description: Join Topaz for this advanced presentation in which Harold will explain why he uses Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, Topaz Glow 2, and Topaz Impressions 2, and provide concrete examples of how he uses these tools. Besides digital homeopathy, he’ll discuss additional ideas about creating digital art in Photoshop such as how this work relates to the Hegelian triad. Finally, Harold will provide some concrete examples of how he used the homeopathic approach to Topaz in his workflow to create his unique photographic art.

“I’ve been called a digital artist who uses photographs as my source material,” Harold says, “and I believe this is a good way to consider my work.” He likes to take his imagery slightly beyond conventional photography using digital painting, but not so far beyond photography that he would “lose the suspension of disbelief inherent in the photographic capture.” In creating this syncretic mixture of photography and digital art, Harold Davis says that among his favorite “go-to tools are the brilliant Topaz Labs Photoshop plugins.”

About Harold Davis: A Zeiss Lens Ambassador and Moab Master, Harold’s work has been published in books, advertisements, cards, posters, and in art editions. His prints are widely collected. As a workshop leader he is constantly in demand. Harold is on the faculty at institutions including the Heidelberg Summer School of Photography, Maine Media Workshops, and Point Reyes Field Seminars.

Harold Davis is the author of eighteen bestselling photography books, most recently Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer: A Photographer’s Creative Companion and Workbook, published by Focal Press. His new book, The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook: Making and Processing Stunning Digital Black and White Photos, is slated for early 2017 publication by Monacelli Press and can be pre-ordered now.

Be sure to stick around after the presentation for a Q/A session, webinar specific discount codes for the Topaz store and to see if you’re the winner of the copy of the Topaz Complete Collection to be given away.

Free Webinar: A Homeopathic Approach to Adjustments with Harold Davis and Topaz—Advance registration is required—Tuesday, December 13 2016 at 2PM PT—Click here to register.

Pont Neuf, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Pont Neuf, Toulouse © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

I Heart Mom

Here’s a portrait of her Mom that Katie Rose made using her pastels. I can sure see the spirit and the likeness in this drawing!

I &#9829 Mom © Katie Rose Davis

I Heart Mom © Katie Rose Davis

Posted in Katie Rose