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Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis

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  • Posted August 13, 2012

    I have never, previously, photographed waterdrops. I've seen som

    I have never, previously, photographed waterdrops. I've seen some images of waterdrops, of course, but never had much desire to make any such images myself. That changed about 5 pages into Mr. Davis' new book, "Photographing Waterdrops."

    The images in this book are just spectacular, and I think will serve as an inspiration for anyone with an interest in photographing waterdrops, and for any who, like me, was not interested in doing so until now. The images are accompanied by text that is well written and easy to understand, and Mr. Davis' enthusiasm is evident throughout, as is his obvious talent in this photographic genre. With an image on virtually every page, there are more than enough examples of waterdrop photography to give the reader a comprehensive view of what can be accomplished.

    In contrast to some of Mr. Davis' other books, this is not an instruction manual, even though each image is accompanied by the "specifications" of its capture - lens focal length, ISO, etc. There is an interesting description of the life cycle of waterdrops, discussion of some of the problems encountered in photographing in different settings, and some discussion of the gear involved, but (unfortunately) there is not a detailed description of the specifics of capturing these images nor are there "setup" pictures as has become common in many photorgraphy books today. That being said, this book was not intended as an instruction manual, but rather and as a source of inspiration, and in that regard it performs admirably. Being a gear-head, I always like to learn what other photographers are using in their craft, and while this book is limited in that regard, I did learn the importance of extension tubes, which, of course, I now have to purchase.

    In full disclosure, I was offered a review copy of this book direct from the publisher. However, the copy shipped to me was damaged in heavy rainfall after being left outside by the postman. As soon as I started leafing through the decidedly waterlogged pages, I decided to buy a replacement copy myself so that I would have an undamaged copy. The images are that good. Fortunately, the Mr. Davis arranged for me to get a second undamaged copy, and that has joined my other "coffee table books."

    Even if you have no interest in photographing waterdrops yourself, you will enjoy this book immensely for the the beautiful images - and you might just find yourself, as I have, suddenly interested in making some of those images yourself. Highly recommended.

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  • Posted July 29, 2012

    Photographing Waterdrops Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Dav

    Photographing Waterdrops Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis

    Mr. Davis has done it again. I was hooked on this book when I reached page 9 and saw the photograph of a leaf he photographed from underneath with incredible sunbursts coming from several waterdrops. Amazing! If you don’t already have a copy of Photographing Waterdrops, I suggest you either go buy one or borrow one and check out Page 9.

    Not only is the book a great instructional tool, but also will be a beautiful addition to our library after a long-term stay on our coffee table.

    Photographing Waterdrops can open up a world of photographic possibilities. Not only do you find technical information regarding settings, lens choice, ISO, aperture for each and every photograph in the book, but reading the chapter that goes along with the photograph will give you encouragement and inspiration to get out the door and start photographing not only waterdrops that have eluded you, but almost anything tiny.

    The book can be read from cover to cover, page by page, as I’m sure it was designed to be. And I highly recommend that. But if you’re looking for a certain type of photographic information, the book’s Table of Contents will lead you to the specific chapter you need.

    The first section talks and explores the life of a waterdrop and it’s environment, different kinds of waterdrops, even the physics of a waterdrop.

    The next section talks about the making of waterdrop photos. Here, Mr. Davis leads you through the process step by step from planning to choosing a lens to compositions to working with natural and macro flash lighting.

    The third and final section takes you through the digital darkroom. Today as much as ever (or even more so) post-production can make or break an image. Mr. Davis tell us that he takes photographs the way he does in part because he knows what is possible in his digital darkroom. He shares his post-production workflow from taking the photograph all the way through multi raw processing to enhancing color and making waterdrops themselves sharp.

    While this book focuses on a wet world, it covers so much more in the world of macro. If you like waterdrops or would like to explore the possibility of shooting waterdrops or just like shooting right after a rain or in the fog, this is the book for you.

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  • Posted July 15, 2012

    I have been reading Harold Davis' Photoblog 2.0 for quite some t

    I have been reading Harold Davis' Photoblog 2.0 for quite some time. Over the years Harold has posted compelling and inspirational photographs of water drops - images that I have always wanted to learn how to create. With the release of Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro Worlds, my wishes have been answered.

    The first thing you'll notice as you browse through this book is the careful editing and layout. Every page of the book contains at least one image. The accompanying text is well balanced. The print quality, fit and finish of the book is equal to a fine art photography book. One might forget about the text for an instance and concentrate on the beauty of the imagery.

    Included in the book are topics on the life cycle and the physics of water drops. I found these two sections especially useful in that it helped me understand the "how's and why's of water drop photography." Harold states "...the craft of photography involves compromises..." but then explains how to negotiate through these challenges and become a more successful water drop photographer.

    While the book focuses on taking water drop images outdoors in their natural state, a photographer could easily practice indoors with their own plants or flowers and a small water bottle sprayer. The book finishes with a resources and glossary section that will be very useful for photographers of all levels of experience.

    Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro Worlds is a "workshop in a book" that can be learned at your leisure and in your own backyard. Read this book and you will be motivated to create your own portfolio of "water drop worlds."

    Full disclosure, I was provided a copy from the publisher for review.

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  • Posted July 14, 2012

    Arriving home after a two week vacation, I found in the stack of

    Arriving home after a two week vacation, I found in the stack of mail the new book by Harold Davis on photographing waterdrops. I thought this would be a book on the technique of suspending a water bag, letting drops of water escape from the bag and then photographing the results. The book actually covers photographing waterdrops in nature in the macro mode. The book is in a 9” x 9” format and contains 129 color photographs and three B&W ones. The colors are brilliant and show off Harold’s photography with outstanding results. I have left the book on the coffee table and it is a conversation stopper when friends have picked it up and thumbed through it.
    Like all his photo books, I like the format. For me it is like taking a personal workshop from Harold. He first suggests looking at the world of waterdrops without the camera and at the same time explains the cycle of how waterdrops are formed in nature. His philosophy of waterdrops related to nature is worth the reading alone and living in the NW has opened up my vision on what to look for in nature. The layout and pace of the book is such that you can browse through the book, see an interesting photo and then read about how the photograph was taken. Several things popped out to me, like you have to be fast as the evaporation of the water will change things quite quickly so you have to be prepared.
    The layout of the book is great to me. Harold starts with an introduction, goes on to explain the cycle of a waterdrop and how we observe them. He then goes on to show many examples and also shows how he observed them, decided on the composition, and then goes on to show how he went about exposing them. He gives us all his knowledge and to me again, is like a personal workshop. He also goes into selecting equipment and how to use it. Another section gives us instruction on how to then take the exposures to the digital darkroom. Also is included a glossary, index and resource list.
    As testimony to the excellence of this photography book, it is one of a few that has a place on our coffee table. Most of my books are in my personal library in my office but this one creates much conversation on the how’s and techniques of the world of waterdrops and nature. I give it a 10+ rating and go back to it several times a day while waiting for advertisements on TV.

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  • Posted July 2, 2012

    I confess. I know nothing about photographing water drops, so w

    I confess. I know nothing about photographing water drops, so when I had the opportunity to read Harold Davis’ new work I was intrigued. Waterdrop photos have almost a mystical quality to them for they can incorporate a dichotomy of characteristics: light, shadows, transparency, reflection, focus, distortion, movement, stillness, refraction, and abstraction. In reading this work, I became curious about this photographic specialty. This is a very popular genre of photography with many photographers specializing in this discipline of macro photography. You can find many portfolios of their work in books, in galleries and online. To be clear, this book is centered on photographing waterdrops mostly in their natural environment. This is distinctly different than those concentrating on high-speed, hi-tech set-ups for photographing waterdrops landing in water, etc. This is not a study of the anatomy of waterdrops from the crown to the vortex to the pinnacle and ending with the bubble.

    I really enjoy Davis’ approach to the subject in bringing out the essence of waterdrops and what makes them fascinating subjects for photographers. Such photographs can create a stunning mood, add depth to a simple scene, or just create an image of wonder. The book is set up in three major segments: “Waterdrop Worlds,” “Making Waterdrop Photos,” and “Waterdrops in the Digital Darkroom.” “Waterdrop Worlds” is both a philosophical and scientific exploration of the wonders of this subject. “Making Waterdrop Photos” encourages the planning for such a photographic endeavor and presents a discussion of equipment needed. “Waterdrops in the Digital Darkroom” instruct us on using the software technologies to present and enhance your waterdrop images. Within each subject of the book, Davis eloquently gives you the goal of the image, the technical aspects of getting the image and a beautiful photo of what can be rendered armed with patience and persistence.

    There is a real challenge photographing waterdrops. You are dealing with a subject that is both in transition and disappearing. The key to success in this photographic area is a strong understanding of light and its impact on your composition. I imagine that the challenge of taking an unstable reflective image with high macro magnification is why many photographers gravitate to this subject. Perhaps this is also the reason why others stay away.

    This book offers both inspiration and encouragement to embark on a photographic journey into the world of waterdrops. As in everything, you have to find your voice in your work and this is an area that is worth exploration. With Davis’ book by your side, it would be a journey well guided.

    In addition to Photographing Waterdrops, other books by Harold Davis that I have reviewed and encourage you look into are Photographing Flowers, Creative Landscapes, and Creative Lighting.

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  • Posted July 1, 2012

    Harold Davis Is The Exception To The Rule

    Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro Worlds With Harold Davis Before I address the book itself, I’d like to say a word about the author, Harold Davis. Having authored or co-authored numerous articles, manuals and been published in peer reviewed journals, I have a good idea just how hard it is to continually turn out material at the highest level. Harold Davis is one of those rare authors who, has mastered his craft at a level most folks wish they could reach just once. He brings a depth of knowledge, ability to write concisely, and most importantly, the ability to convey his ideas and technical know how clearly so that readers of all levels of experience can benefit from his books. You will find that Photographing Waterdrops succeeds on many levels. Inspirationally, the images in the book will make you want to grab your camera and get outdoors after every rain to look for water drops. Technically, the book includes all the relevant information pertaining to how the photographs were taken; additionally, Harold describes the field conditions they were shot in. From an informational standpoint, you’ll learn about the different types of waterdrops, how reflections and refractions play a large role in this type of photography. Harold has an entire section devoted to the making of waterdrop images which covers how to plan a shoot, how to set the camera, excellent detail on the macro equipment that’s needed and what can be used if you can’t afford real macro lenses. This section finished up with a discussion of composition and the use of both natural and artificial light sources. The last section of the book contains information and techniques for enhancing your photographs in post production. All told, this is one of the most interesting and informative books on photography that I’ve read. I highly recommend it.

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