Category Archives: Flowers

The Nietzschian School of Gardening

Eons ago, when we first moved to California, we bought our house. Built in 1924, we bought it from the sixty-something kids of the original owners, the mom having recently passed away. Maintenance and yard work had been neglected for decades. This gave me the opportunity to start fresh with the garden.

Bougainvillea Stem © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Stem © Harold Davis

After fencing the front yard, which was being used as a neighborhood dog dump, I went down to the local big box home improvement store. The garden section practiced what I think of as the Nietzschian School of Gardening—after the somewhat repugnant German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

In the case of the somewhat shriveled and definitely neglected bougainvillea vine I bought at Home Depot, Nietzsche definitely had a point. I’ve neglected it in the twenty years since I planted it at the southwest corner of our house, and our only concern has been to prune it back when it threatens to overrun the entire neighborhood.

To make this image, I clipped a stem from the bougainvillea, brought it inside to photograph it on my light box, and converted the result to LAB color for manipulations, finally converting the image back to RGB to create the master file.

Related image: Bougainvillea Variations.

Autumn Bouquet

Dahlias are not an autumn flower, although they come towards the end of summer riotous display of floral colorification. It’s actually the autumnal hues of these particular Dahlias that makes me call this an “Autumn Bouquet.”

Autumn Bouquet © Harold Davis

Autumn Bouquet © Harold Davis

It was great fun to photograph it on my light box, process it for translucency to a white background, and add it in Photoshop to a scanned paper background.

Related story and some images: Persistence of Personal Vision.

Purple Dahlia

In what is almost a starfish of the land, this purple Dahlia is wonderfully asymmetric and spiral-like. Related image: Dahlia.

Purple Dahlia © Harold Davis

Purple Dahlia © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Dahlia Petals

Yesterday I photographed my dahlias on a literal table (the term “table-top photography” can sometimes be a bit figurative), using sunlight, a telephoto macro lens, and a low-to-the-ground tripod to make portraits of the petals.

Dahlia Petals Purple © Harold Davis

Dahlia Petals Purple © Harold Davis

Dahlia Petals Red Yellow © Harold Davis

Dahlia Petals Red Yellow © Harold Davis

Dance of the Seven Dahlia Petals © Harold Davis

Dance of the Seven Dahlia Petals © Harold Davis

Are you an experienced photographer who enjoys photographing flowers? If so, you might consider my Flower Photography Intensive: 4-Day Masterclass in Flower Photography, scheduled for June 2017 in Berkeley, CA. We will explore some of the advanced nuances of light box photography for floral transparency, and work on flower photography in the field and studio. Click here for more information and registration.

Also posted in Photography

Dahlia

It’s great to be home and back with my family. I got back late last night, and spent the day catching up with correspondence and projects, and getting reacquainted with some deadlines. But I did take a little time out to photograph some beautiful dahlias.

Dahlia © Harold Davis

Dahlia © Harold Davis

The flower shown here was photographed on a black velvet background with my Nikon D810, the 85mm f/1.4 Zeiss Otus with a 12mm extension tube, at one second, f/16, ISO 64, using a tripod. The flower was illuminated with natural light, meaning cloudy but bright sunlight. I processed the image in Adobe Camera RAW, and made a few adjustments in Photoshop.

Iris Trilogy

Sometimes simple is best!

Iris Trilogy © Harold Davis

Iris Trilogy © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Flores Pano on Black, and on White

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (black) © Harold Davis

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (black) © Harold Davis

I’ve been doing a great deal of black and white work for my forthcoming book from Monacelli Press, so its nice to take a color break with a color image, even though the color is on black, and also on white—so color and black and white!

In times of trouble, both personal and for the world, what better to turn to than flowers? There’s nothing like spending time arranging, photographing, and processing a floral panorama to help with serenity and steady the nerves.

Roughly speaking, the image title translates from the Latin to “Let’s take flowers with us and dance!” If you check out the exposure and processing info below, you’ll see this is one floral dance that took a great deal of work. To quote the American poet Randall Jarrell, “Art being bartender is never drunk.”

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (white) © Harold Davis

Et chorus sinit ire cum flores (white) © Harold Davis

Related image: Garden Party.

Exposure and processing info: Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2, photographed on a light box, eighteen exposures (photographed in two panels, left and right, each panel nine exposures with shutter speeds from 1/8 of a second to 15 seconds), each exposure at f/16 and ISO 64, tripod mounted; exposures converted from RAW using Adobe Camera RAW and Nik HDR Efex Pro, and combined in Photoshop; processed in Photoshop with help from Nik Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, and Topaz Glow; black version created using an LAB L-channel inversion in Photoshop.

Also posted in Photography

Sunflower

Sunflower on White in Black and White © Harold Davis

Sunflower on White in Black and White © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

Eschew the Routine

Yesterday was going to be a day of routine and mundane tasks: bookkeeping, workflow management, writing business emails, and so on. As a professional photographer and artist, this stuff has to get done! But looking out at the garden, I saw a fresh crop of red poppies and some blue clematis. I knew they were doomed as the day warmed-up, so making art with the floral material was a now-or-never proposition!

Clematis, Poppies, and Butterflies © Harold Davis

Clematis, Poppies, and Butterflies © Harold Davis

With Phyllis and the kids over at the Karate Dojo, in the cool air of the morning, I cranked the music up, and arranged and photographed the flowers on my light box. I do like to play in Photoshop as well as the camera! As the day got warmer and the kids came home filling the house with laughter and chatter and happy noise, I used LAB color to invert the image, and added some butterflies and a textured background. Altogether a happy day of play at home for me!

Also posted in Photography

Light Box Floral Fun with My iPhone

Here are two new floral images shot and processed with my iPhone. Both were initially processed in Snapseed. The upper image was then put through Plastic Bullet and Lo-Mob, with the frame added in Snapseed. The bottom image is a Waterlogue.

Floral Fun © Harold Davis

Floral Fun © Harold Davis

iPhone Light Box #3 © Harold Davis

iPhone Light Box #3 © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone

Study in Scarlet

In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick Watson meet for the very first time and agree to share an apartment. As new roomies, Holmes proceeds to explain his “science” of deduction and analysis, all based on the importance of accurate observation, and in the context of that ultimate scarlet liquid, blood.

My own Study in Scarlet, shown below, draws on poppies and anemones for its chromatic reference rather than sanguine fluid. However, there is something about my image that should lead to analysis and deduction following careful observation. If you think you see what I am referencing, please drop me an email with the explanation.

Study in Scarlet © Harold Davis

Study in Scarlet © Harold Davis

Garden Party

The flowers in my garden decided to have a party. The Fourth of July Roses brought the noise makers and musical instruments. The irises brought the guacamole and dip. The Papaver somniferum brought, well, what poppies usually bring to a party. The tulips were pretty in pink, and they all got together and invited some exotic tulips from the store—whose frilly edges and bright orange and yellow colors added a touch of exotic, tropical pizzazz to the melange.

Garden Party © Harold Davis

Garden Party © Harold Davis

As night fell, the band played on, and the wild and crazy flower garden party got even more intense.

Garden Party Black © Harold Davis

Garden Party Black © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Bougainvillea Variations

Bougainvillea Study II © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Study II © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation A © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation A © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation B © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation B © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation C © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation C © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation D © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation D © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation E

Bougainvillea Variation E © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation F © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation F © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation G © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation G © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation H © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation H © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation I © Harold Davis

Bougainvillea Variation I © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photograms

Matilija Poppies and Friends

The wonderful Matilija Poppies, Romneya coulteri, are in full bloom in the East Bay hills across the water from San Francisco, California. White, platter-sized translucent flowers dominate a tall stem on a bush-like construction, with an intricate yellow central flower core. The Matilija is a genuine native of the southwest United States and California, and grows like a weed. Shown here with Echinacea and Clematis from our garden (the blue Clematis is hidden behind the more frontal Matilija).

© Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies and Friends on Black © Harold Davis

© Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies and Friends on Paper © Harold Davis

© Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies and Friends on White © Harold Davis

Top: On black, via LAB conversion; middle: placed on a paper background in post-production; bottom: photographed on a light box.

Related image: Peonies.

Peonies

Peonies on Black © Harold Davis

Peonies on Black © Harold Davis

Peonies on a Scanned Paper Background © Harold Davis

Peonies on a Scanned Paper Background © Harold Davis

Peonies on White © Harold Davis

Peonies on White © Harold Davis

Peonies on White (bottom) is a photo composite created from 18 individual 36MP captures on a light box photographed for transparency. Peonies on Black (top) is an LAB L-channel adjustment (an inversion) of the image on white. Peonies on a Scanned Paper Background (middle) shows the white version added to a background that was created by scanning a somewhat aged sheet of paper..