My Grandparents: Harry and Helen Davis

These are portraits of my paternal grandparents. Harry Davis was born Herschel Davidowitz in 1892. Helen Davis, nee Gotlieb, born in 1895, and Harry were both from Lodz, Poland. They met in New York, and were married in 1925.

Harry Davis (born Hershel Davidowitz); Photographer Unknown

Harry Davis (born Hershel Davidowitz); Photographer and Date Unknown

The images are flatbed scans of sepia tinted photos that have suffered some damage over the years. The photographer and date of the sitting(s) are unknown. Clearly, these portraits marked some kind of formal or special occasion, as the subjects are dressed up and looking their best. This is not the kind of studio portrait that would have happened every day.

Helen (nee Gotlieb) Davis; Photographer and Date Unknown

Helen (nee Gotlieb) Davis; Photographer and Date Unknown

I never knew my grandfather Harry Davis as he died in 1947 before I was born. However, in his absence, he was a figure who has loomed fairly large in my life, since he was an artist, and I was named after him.

My grandma Helen on the other hand was a beloved if somewhat peculiar presence in my early years. I believe that English was her fourth language (after Yiddish, Polish, and German). This led to an idiosyncrasy of language that was particularly noticeable in her essentially incomprehensible written communications. Her vast love for her family was immediately and always apparent, and I loved her a great deal.

My father adds some biographical details:

Harry and Helen knew one another slightly in Lodz. She came to borrow books at an informal lending library that he and his friends had established in Lodz. His friend Felix Kornberg was married to her sister Regina. Harry reconnected with Helen at the Bronx apartment of Bessie, another sister.

Harry had been taken as a forced laborer to Germany during World War I. After the war he and his brothers established a furniture manufacturing business in Leipzig, Germany. So he came to New York City from Germany.

Helen really didn’t know German. For her, speaking German was just speaking Yiddish with a different accent, especially a very soft “l”.

Posted in Writing

White Rose Blushing in Color and Black and White

I thought this white rose with a hint of satin-like blush was going to look great in black and white, but when I processed it I saw that the color had some appeal as well. One of the great things about digital black and white is that you can have a “two-fer”: a color image and a monochromatic image. 

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

 

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

I photographed this white rose using ambient sunlight with my 200mm f/4 Nikkor macro lens on a tripod, and a 18mm extension tube to get a little closer. Each image is a blended combination of six exposures, stopped down to f/32 and bracketed one EV apart for each exposure (by shutter speed).

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

 

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome

Upcoming Flowers Workshop Opening & Early-Bird Discounts Expiring

We have two spaces open in my upcoming Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop here In Berkeley California the coming weekend of March 12-13, 2017. I have a version of this workshop I’ll be leading the first week in August at Maine Media Workshops but otherwise I will not be scheduling it again for quite a while, probably not until well into 2018.

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Flower Tondo 1 Variation © Harold Davis

Also two workshops have early-bird discounts that are ending in one week (on March 10, 2017). If you are interested in these workshops, why not take advantage of the $50 advance registration discount? They are:

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

Golden Gate Splash © Harold Davis

01-title-LAB

Posted in Workshops

Harold Davis Presents Photographing Flowers for Transparency at School of Visual Arts Masters in Digital Photography

I’m pleased to share with you my presentation on Photographing Flowers for Transparency at New York’s School of Visual Arts in the Masters in Digital Photography program. Enjoy!

If for some reason the video of my presentation doesn’t load here, you can also watch it on YouTube!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Harold Davis on Black & White Vision at B&H Photo in New York: the Video

I was in New York as part of a trip to promote my new book The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook. My presentation at B&H Photo was well attended and fun for me. The good folks at B&H were very kind to a somewhat jet-lagged peripatetic photographer. The video of my presentation is now available.

If for some reason the video of my presentation doesn’t load here, you can also watch it on YouTube!

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Finding Interesting Photos at Home

In recent years I’ve seen much of the world. All this traveling has led to photography of some very beautiful and interesting places. So when I show my work, not infrequently I get the reaction, “Harold, this is all very well and good, but I can’t afford to pack up and go to the places you go.”

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Metamorphosis © Harold Davis

Yes, travel is fun, and can put one’s camera in front of some very photogenic things. But, more importantly, I think one of the primary benefits of travel is to teach one about the wonderful world we live in and its peoples. Also, interestingly, travel can teach one about oneself.

So I recommend photographic travel highly, but by no means is it necessary for the creation of exciting imagery. A case in point: the onion growing green shown about came right out of our fridge. It’s growing and twisting and changing into something else, a process that is familiar to all living things. Hence I have called the photo Metamorphosis, which refers to a change from one state of being (the onion) to another (the green shoots).

Posted in Photography

Vietnamese Dongs (VNDs)

I’m very excited about an upcoming photo trip to Vietnam. In preparation for my trip, I stopped by my bank and got some walking around money. The local currency is the Vietnamese Dong, or VND. The photo below shows 1,600,000 VNDs. This is a little less than $70 at current exchange rates.

Vietnamese Dongs (VNDs) © Harold Davis

Vietnamese Dongs (VNDs) © Harold Davis

Below, the revered Ho Chi Minh as shown on a 200,000 VND banknote. Ho once stated something we would do well to heed in these times, “Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability.”

Ho Chi Minh © Harold Davis

Ho Chi Minh © Harold Davis

Posted in Vietnam

Tunnel to Bethesda Fountain

The area around Bethesda Fountain is one of my favorite haunts in New York’s fabulous Central Park. During the day it is always crowded with happy folks, musicians, jugglers, and so on. At night, the area looks like a stage set. This is a fisheye view through the underpass under the park drive towards Bethesda Fountain, shown both in black & white and color.

Tunnel to Bethesda Fountain (b&w) © Harold Davis

Tunnel to Bethesda Fountain (b&w) © Harold Davis

Tunnel to Bethesda Fountain (color) © Harold Davis

Tunnel to Bethesda Fountain (color) © Harold Davis

Posted in New York

Free Webinar, The Artistic Image: From Start to Finish

I’m giving a new, free webinar on Tuesday, February 28, 2017 at 2PM PT, sponsored by Topaz Labs. The webinar title is The Artistic Image: From Start to Finish.

This is going to be a little different than my previous sessions for Topaz. I’ve heard in the past that folks like my ideas, and they like my images. But they want to understand the details and all the steps of my workflow. So I am going to get down and dirty!

I’ll take a handful of images (as many as we have time for, and still have some time for Q&A), and process these images in real time from RAW file(s) to finished art. Beware: You may not like what see! Sometimes it’s better to not know the details (politics and sausage-making come to mind). Your workflow may never be the same!

This is a free webinar sponsored by Topaz Labs. However, preregistration is required. My webinar is scheduled for February 28, 2017 at 2PM Pacific Time. Click here to register for this free webinar.

Tuscan Road © Harold Davis

Tuscan Road © Harold Davis

Here’s the official webinar description: In this advanced webinar, renowned photographer and author Harold Davis will start with his RAW files, and show step-by-step how he creates his artistic images. This is a unique, behind the scenes look at how Harold accomplishes his acclaimed results, with Photoshop workflow and the application of plugins such as Topaz explained in detail. You are welcome to ask questions as Harold demonstrates each step, and also there will time for Q&A at the end of the webinar.

Harold Davis is the author of nineteen 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.

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

Posted in Workshops

Building Reflections

On my recent trip, I stayed in New York in the belly of the beast, in a nice Eurostyle hotel at the corner of Tenth Ave and 42nd Street. Literally scores of fifty and sixty story high-rises are going up all over that neighborhood, and the New York I grew up in is close to unrecognizable. Can there really be enough New Yorkers with enough money to populate these opulent rental buildings that are coming on line, many with mirrored windows (as in this iPhone shot) or other interesting architectural features? I wonders, I does.

Building Reflections © Harold Davis

Building Reflections © Harold Davis

About the image: Captured using the Camera app on my iPhone 6s, and fairly minimally processed using the Snapseed, Mextures, and DistressedFX apps.

Posted in iPhone, New York, Photography

Oculus

The dictionary says that oculus is a fancy term for a round, eyelike opening. The term has been borrowed for a system of virtual reality headsets, and I have photographed a rock formation called the Oculus in Antelope Canyon. In New York City, the Oculus is the architectural sculpture above a transportation hub near the World Trade Center, designed by Santiago Calatrava, and shown here in all its eyelike glory!

© Harold Davis

Oculus © Harold Davis

Posted in New York, Photography

On the Brooklyn Bridge

Today I guest-hosted an informal Meetup of New York photographers. We gathered at the bridge tower on the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn Bridge. There was a great deal of talk about photography, many nice people, and I answered all the questions I could. The sunset looked to be unpromising, but as you can see it had its moments.

© Harold Davis

On the Brooklyn Bridge © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, 16mm fisheye, three blended exposures, each at shutter speeds of 8 seconds and ISO 64; f/8, f/11, and f/14; tripod mounted. Processed in ACR and Photoshop.

Posted in Digital Night, New York, Photography

Cherry Branches

Cherry Branches for a wet and windy weekend! Phyllis brought these back from a neighborhood tree, and I photographed them using high-key HDR on a light box, then combined the images in Photoshop, and added a background. I hope you enjoy my image!

Cherry Branches © Harold Davis

Cherry Branches © Harold Davis

For some other cherry blossom images click on these stories: Cherry Blossoms; Cherry Blossom Special; and Cherry Blossoms on Skin. Searching my blog for “cherry” yields quite a few additional entries! Clearly a wet, early spring in Berkeley is a great time to photograph cherry blossoms, as I have done across a number of years.

Posted in Flowers

Black & White Book is Shipping

My new book The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook: Making and Processing Stunning Digital Black and White Photos is now available and shipping from Amazon and other book stores. Very exciting!

davis_bw_handbook_front-cover

Posted in Writing

Free Upcoming Events with Harold Davis in New York City

© Harold Davis

East River © Harold Davis

I will be in New York City for a brief trip from Monday February 20 until Friday February 24, 2017 in honor of the publication of my new book The Photographer’s Black & White Handbook.

Bethesda Fountain © Harold Davis

Bethesda Fountain © Harold Davis

I will be presenting at the following events, which are free and open to the public:

  • Digital Black & White: Vision and Craft — B&H Event Space, 420 Ninth Ave, Monday Feb 20 from 1-3PM; pre-registration is strongly suggested — click here to register.
  • Photographing Flowers for Transparency — School of Visual Arts, 131 West 21st Street, Room 101c; Tuesday Feb 21 from 4-6PM — click here for more information.
  • Photograph the Brooklyn Bridge Meetup — Brooklyn-side tower of the Brooklyn Bridge, Wednesday Feb 22 starting at 4PM — This is an informal walk-and-talk Meetup, click here for more information.

If you are in the New York, I’d love to say Hi at one of these events!

Ghosts of Grand Central © Harold Davis

Ghosts of Grand Central © Harold Davis

 

Storm in the Upper Harbor © Harold Davis

Storm in the Upper Harbor © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography