Online Photo CourseCheck out Photographing Flowers, an interactive multi-featured online course by Harold Davis
- Photograph San Francisco in Black and White—also Workshop Updates
- Mandalas from a Crystal Bowl
- Best Of Botanicals: National Juried Photography Exhibition
- Photographic Caravan to Spain and Morocco
- Flowers Squared
- Today’s Nautilus
- Nautilus by Halves
- Otus and me
- Current Harold Davis Photo Workshop offerings
- Tulip Pano
- Opium Poppies
- Louvre Reflection
- Quince by Moon
- Sunrise in the rice fields
- New review of Monochromatic HDR Photography by Harold Davis
- Flowering Quince
- Harold Davis “Red Poppies” on Awagami washi at Paperworld Frankfurt
- Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Only four spots left in February session
- Graced with Light in Grace Cathedral
- Advanced Black & White: Photography and Photoshop
- Broken Arrow and Creating LAB Patterns
- Photographing Flowers Course (with discount link)
- Learn Photoshop This Year!—Second Session by Popular Demand
- Working with my mobile “fun” camera
- Through a glass lightly
- Temple Flags
- Coming into the new year with my books
- My best of 2013
- Kate Rose is doing fine!
- Art Editions
- Abstractions (9)
- Bemusements (572)
- Book Reviews (4)
- Cuba (28)
- Digital Night (251)
- Flickr (13)
- Flowers (586)
- France (27)
- Hardware (32)
- HDR (53)
- Hearts (6)
- High Sierra (26)
- Hiking (28)
- iPhone (27)
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- Japan (28)
- Katie Rose (125)
- Kids (214)
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- Models (47)
- Monochrome (182)
- New York (7)
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- Patterns (84)
- Phoenix Roundtrip (9)
- Photograms (75)
- Photography (2264)
- Photoshop Techniques (228)
- Point Reyes (92)
- Print of the Month (7)
- Road Trip (22)
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Category Archives: Flowers
Best Of Botanicals: National Juried Photography Exhibition
A Benefit for San Francisco Botanical Garden
Call for entries. Entries are due: April 3, 2014
From classical to contemporary, from desert to rain forest, from bud to decay, the natural form of flowers and plants has been contemplated by artists, philosophers, scientists . . . and everyone.
- This is PHOTO’s second benefit for the San Francisco Botanical Garden. A percentage of sales will go to support the work of the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park.
- PHOTO is part of Oakland Art Murmur located in Oakland’s Uptown Arts District. The exhibit will be seen by thousands of visitors during the June and July First Friday art walks, and during regular hours for the duration of the show.
- Best of Show Award: $1000
- Harold Davis will speak on “Making the Botanical Photo: The Digital Print As an Artifact” on June 7. He is the recipient of many photo awards, a Moab Printmaking Master, and the author of numerous bestselling photography books, including “Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds.” Click here for more information about this presentation.
- Exhibit dates: May 22 – July 12
I have been thinking about square compositions, for example, with these Nautilus Shells. So why not create some square versions of my light box flowers? This is actually harder from a composition viewpoint than it might seem, but here are a few I have come up with!
I shot this photo of tulips in a crowd with my new Otus. Otus’s more formal designation is the Otus 1.4/55, and is, in the words of the manufacturer Zeiss, quite possibly the absolute best lens in the world today. According to Dxo Labs, on a full frame DSLR, the Carl Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 “is categorically the highest performing standard-type prime in our database.”
Subjectively, Otus is a big honking prime lens with a smooth-as-velvet manual focus—and a wonderful, bright and cheery quality when you look or photograph through it. As I noted in The Way of the Digital Photographer, a lens is to a photographer as a paintbrush is to a painter. I am lucky to be friends with Otus, and to have Otus as my photographic “paintbrush.” Thank you, Zeiss, for the honor!
Click the image or on this link to view it larger.
This tulip panorama was shot on a light box in three segments. Each segment is made up of six exposures, so there are eighteen exposures in all. In post-production, first I combined the exposures and then stitched the segments together. My idea was to create a cheerful image that promotes health and happiness to the viewer. It makes a nice print on Moab Slickrock Pearl. You can click here, or on the image, to view it larger.
If you like this image, you may be interested in some other Tulip imagery I created at the same time!
I have been working on a series of Tulip imagery that I shot almost a year ago, and haven’t had the time to process before now. These were shot on my light box in a bracketed high-key sequence, so combining the RAW captures takes craft, effort and creativity—which is what it is all about, after all!
The tulips themselves came from the organic farmer’s market in North Berkeley that takes place each Thursday in the “gourmet ghetto.” I am looking forward to the coming of spring so that there are more wonderful flowers to shoot straight from the growers.
Once I have three or four of these Tulip images processed, I am looking forward to printing them. There is a brightness and optimism that they show that is very heartening—maybe these images even have healing qualities!
I think the series will make nice prints, possibly in a group or as an installation.
It’s perfectly legal in this country to cultivate the Opium Poppy, Papaver somniferum, for decorative purposes. But this pretty flower, shown in the image below, has long caused wild dreams and flights of fancy. For example, the poet Samuel Coleridge wrote his poem Kubla Khan in 1797 following an opium-inspired dream that was interrupted by a bill collector. Equally, this innocent-looking flower is responsible for much human misery, from the killing fields of Afghanistan to the addictions and overdose deaths caused by the stronger products refined or synthesized based on opium.
When you buy an opium poppy plant from an American horticultural nursery, the name is likely to be changed, as if naming this flower something other than what it is makes it less deadly, or more licit. So one nursery I know calls the Opium Poppy a “Purple Breadseed Poppy,” and there are other cloaked names in use as well.
By whatever name, it is an easy flower to grow (the ones shown here are from my garden, for decorative purposes only of course!). In case you are curious, opium is refined from the paste that accumulates inside the seed pods that form after the flower has bloomed. A single poppy pod wouldn’t be enough—it takes a great many poppies to make a usable quantity of opium.
Want to learn how to make images like this one from beginning to end? There are three spots left in my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop next weekend (I won’t be giving this workshop again in this country until 2015).
The red flowering quince are particularly gorgeous this year in my neighborhood, and I can’t resist putting some of them on my light box. These flowers have a simple elegance that is really special.
Do you prefer the version of this image with the moon (above) or just the branch of flowering quince (far above)?
I lit a passion flower (passiflora) from the rear and left, so that the light reflected off the flower onto the neck of a glass bottle with a rather tall neck. I used a telephoto macro lens (200mm) to shoot the passiflora through the neck of the glass bottle. My idea was to focus on the refraction of the flower projected onto the glass rather than the flower itself. I used a moderate aperture (f/10) for some depth-of-field—enough to make the refraction of the flower in the glass seem to be in focus, but not enough for the actual flower in the background to seem sharp.
What makes this image interesting is the inversion of normal visual expectations. In other words, the contrast between the “straight” flower in the background—which is normal and ordinary, but not in focus—and the distorted flower in the glass—which is contorted and extraordinary, but in focus—is unusual. We normally expect to see our “straight” things crisp and in focus, and our weird, dream-like things out-of-focus and, well, dream-like.
At a casual glance, this is a fairly simple selective focus image of lush white flowers in an autumn garden. Actually, there’s more to it photographically than meets the eye. (Knowing me, this probably won’t surprise you!) Let me explain.
First, and somewhat unusually, this is a close-up of a flower using an extreme wide-angle lens (my Zeiss 15mm f/2.8 on a full-frame DSLR). This means that the front element of my lens was only two inches from the flower that is in focus (and central to the image).
Next, I created the slight blurring in the out-of-focus blossoms by intentionally creating motion in the flowers. I had my camera on a tripod, manually located the point I wanted to focus on, and outside of the frame I pushed the flowering plant with my free hand. When the flower entered my in-focus zone I snapped the exposure using a remote release at a shutter speed fast enough to stop some of the motion but still render the attractive blur. The settings were 1/125 of a second at f/5.6 and ISO 200.
It takes a bit of doing to pull off this partial motion blur and selective focus technique. You can find some more information in my online Photographing Flowers course.
By the way, the chrysanthemum—particularly white chrysanthemums—are important symbolic flowers in Japan. I feel there is some significance in photographing this very Japanese flower in Giverny, the garden of Claude Monet (whose work was so influenced by Japanese art), shortly before my own trip to Japan.
Check out photos of Japan on my blog.
Check out photos of France on my blog.
As many times as I photograph roses I never have enough! There is always a different way to approach a rose, or any other flower for that matter. Verily, there is a world and a universe in a single bloom if you look hard enough.
With this red rose, it came home with me following the December Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop I just gave. This was a great workshop, with good participants and I had a lot of fun. (By the way, there’s still some room in the February 2014 session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency.)
So essentially, the decision to photograph this particular rose was a bit random. But when I saw the internal curves of this specimen I could not resist. Let’s face it, roses are just so sexy.
To make this image, I put the rose in a vase in a shaft of sunlight. I used a small silver reflector to bounce some light back into the center of the flower.
With my camera on a tripod, I then used my Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro lens to make a bracketed sequence of exposures at f/22 and ISO 100. To make the final image, I used two exposures, one shot at 2 seconds and the other at 4 seconds, combined in Photoshop using layers, layer masks, and the Brush Tool.
If you are interested in my approach to flower photography, please consider my online Photographing Flowers course. This is an ongoing course that you can take on your own time. Click here to register for my course.
My book The Way of the Digital Photographer contains a great deal of information about how to work with flower photos in Photoshop. I am excited that my book has recently been named a best photography book of the year. Click here to read the press release, click here to purchase my book on Amazon, and click here to purchase it directly from the publisher (Peachpit).
My online course Mastering Flower Photography is going live soon! In the meantime, you can be entered in a random drawing to win a free course by clicking here and following this link.
The daffodil is also a narcissus, and is a member of the Amaryllis family. The flower is a harbinger of spring. As a narcissus, the flower speaks to self-absorption: in classical mythology the beautiful youth Narcissus spurned the nymph Echo, who died of a broken heart. Narcissus then saw his own reflection in a pond, leaned over to possess himself, drowned—and became the flower.
To make this image, I photographed the daffodils using a lightbox for the background. Leaning over my tripod, I did not fall into the lightbox and drown!
After shooting a bracketed sequence, I used my special post-production layering techniques to combine the sequence of photos. Finally, I added the flowers to a scanned paper background to add an archaic look—almost like an old-fashioned botanical painting—and to complete the image.
Interested in learning this set of photographic and processing techniques? There are spaces available in the February 2014 session of my weekend-long Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop. Click here for more information and registration.
Due to many requests I have added a new session of the Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop, Saturday, February 22—Sunday, February 23, 2014. Click here for information and online registration for the February Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.
Synopsis: In this unique workshop offering master photographer Harold Davis shows the techniques he uses to create his floral masterpieces. Arrangement, composition, photography, post-production will all be covered, as will Harold’s special techniques for shooting on a lightbox.
Some details and curriculum:
Master photographer Harold Davis is well-known for his often imitated—but seldom equaled—digital images of luscious transparent and transulent flowers.
In this unique workshop offering master photographer Harold Davis shows the techniques he uses to create his floral masterpieces. Arrangement, composition, photography, post-production will all be covered, as will Harold’s special techniques for shooting on a lightbox.
Who is this workshop for?
The workshop is intended for photographers of all levels with an interest in flower photography.
Harold is only planning to give this workshop once this year. There is no better way to learn the floral transparency techniques that he has pioneered. The two-day format will give participants the chance to complete their imagery using the techniques that Harold will demonstrate.
Here are some comments from the 2012 Floral Transparency Workshop:
- “Loved the pace, in-depth instruction and generous sharing.”
- “EXCELLENT PRESENTATION AND COVERAGE OF MATERIAL. MR. DAVIS WAS PATIENT TO ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS.”
- “Harold, thank you for the time, expense and effort it took to put on a great one-day workshop….You are a wealth of information and share it so graciously.”
- “Outstanding workshop!”
- “A very packed day! Harold is very clear and organized; an outstanding photographer who is also an outstanding teacher.”
Where: MIG Meeting Place, 800 Hearst Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94710
When: Saturday February 22, 2014, 9:30AM to 5:30PM and Sunday February 23, 2013, 10:00AM to 5:00PM
Tuition: The cost of the workshop is $695 per person. Workshop limited to 16 participants.
Curriculum – Day 1
9:30AM – Workshop orientation
10:30 – Glory of the tranlucent petal (understanding translucency and transparency)
11:30 – Introduction to Floral arrangement and composition
12:30 – Lunch break
1:30 – Advanced floral compositon
2:30 – Shooting on a lightbox
3:30 – Understanding high-key hand HDR post-production
4:30 – Advanced HDR topics
5:00 – Review, wrap-up and Q&A
Curriculum – Day 2
10:00AM - Day 1 recap
10:30 - Individual post-production guided practice
11:30 – Backgrounds and Textures
12:30 – Lunch break
1:30 – LAB Color effects
2:15 – Individual practice
4:00 – Fine art botannical prints
4:30 – Review, wrap-up and Q&A
What folks have said about Harold Davis workshops and events:
- “A great artist and speaker!”—W. Anglin
- “Harold is genuine, generous, and gracious – He has a world of knowledge and expertise that he loves to share – his wonderful books show his monumental talents and skill set- his workshops shows the depth of his connecting with others in a very real and personal way.”—P. Borrelli
- “Awesome! He patiently addressed questions from the audience which contained photographers of all levels , molding his answers to the level of understanding for each of us. His presentations covered a wonderful range of technical knowledge as well as emphasizing the need for images to have an emotional quality. The images he shares are breathtaking and he is generous in sharing many facets of how he captures such beauty.”—J. Phillips
- “Not all photographers are good verbal communicators. Harold is someone who can DO and TEACH. A rare combination of talents.”—B. Sawyer
- “He was very giving of his talents and time. The course was very organized and thorough. Loved it! Learned so much! … I also wanted to let you know that I have more than paid the cost of the workshops I’ve done with you by selling some photos! I have sold three prints already.”—L. Beck
- “Very creative and a marvelous instructor.”—Kay S.
About Harold Davis: Harold Davis is a well-known digital artist and award-winning professional photographer. He is the author of many photography books. His most recent titles are The Way of the Digital Photographer (Peachpit) and Monochromatic HDR Photography (Focal Press).
In addition to his activity as a bestselling book author, Harold is a featured columnist for Photo.net. He has been acknowledged as a Moab Master printmaker and is known as a Master Printer. His limited edition artist book Botanique was featured most recently in Fine Art Printing, the only magazine devoted exclusively to fine art photographic printmaking. Harold’s work is widely collected, licensed by art publishers, and has appeared in numerous magazines and other publications.
Harold’s technique and destination photography workshops to such diverse locations as Paris, France; Heidelberg, Germany; and the ancient Bristlecone Pines of the eastern Sierra Nevada are widely popular and usually sell out quickly.
To get a shot like this of waterdrops means getting wet, particularly when it is raining. And raining it was in Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Colorado where I was taping an online course in flower photography for an up-and-coming powerhouse in photographic education, Craftsy.
If you are interested in learning how to make images like this one, please check out my book Photographing Waterdrops: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis, or wait for the course—which will be online in October.
Pattie Logan, the producer of my flower photography course, is holding an umbrella over my head and camera as I photograph this waterdrop, below left. The Craftsy production crew is shown sheltering from the intermittent rain under umbrellas and a portable tent between takes (below right) with the flowers and waterdrop I photographed in the foreground. Both iPhone shots by Adam Speas, part of the production team.
Flowers of Late Summer was shot on a lightbox using my Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 lens and the full-frame Nikon D800. Layering the 36MP RAW captures brought my computer down to a crawl begging for mercy (EXIF and processing info below). Upgrade one piece of hardware and, alas, the logic of workflow implies that other upgrades will follow!
Exposure data: 35mm, six exposures at shutter speeds from 10 seconds to 1/10 of a second, all exposures at f/13 and ISO 100, tripod mounted; exposures combined using Nik HDR Efex Pro and hand-HDR in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop; this version added to a scanned paper background and lightly texturized.
Please note that I will be on assignment next week in Colorado, so don’t expect to hear too much from me!
I’m giving a workshop that will cover Photographing Flowers for Transparency in December, 2013 it is sold out, but I may add a second section (add your name to the Waiting List and/or send me an email if you’d be interested).
I’ll also be giving a workshop in Heidelberg, Germany in June, 2014 that will cover this technique as well as other kinds of flower photography (more info will be posted on my Workshops page as it is available).
Please also consider joining my email list if you are interested in keeping up with what I am doing!