Category Archives: Flowers

Degrees of Translucency

Transparency means something one can look through with clarity, like a sheet of glass or plastic. So what we are interested in is really translucency—the state or condition of being translucent, or partially transparent. But translucency is essentially an optical illusion, or trick of the human eye. When a light color contrasts with a dark color, and the light color is apparently “above” the darker color, then the human eye is trained to perceive degrees of translucency.

Degrees of Translucency © Harold Davis

Degrees of Translucency © Harold Davis

 

Salutation to the Sun

I am taking a little time to process some of the botanical images I’ve shot so far this year. Soon I will be moving on to photograph the old stones of the old world, but it has truly been fun to have the time this spring to do a great deal of floral photography! Herewith, a few new botanicals. Enjoy!

Also note that I’ve opened a 2016 weekend session of my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop (March 5-6, 2016, here in Berkeley, California). Click here for details and registration.

© Harold Davis

Salutation to the Sun © Harold Davis

Peony #1 © Harold Davis

Peony #1 © Harold Davis

Peony #1 on Black © Harold Davis

Peony #1 on Black © Harold Davis

Two Botanicals

The other day I enjoyed photographing and presenting some local flowers cut from the neighborhood in a fairly traditional way so that the finished images appear at first glance much like old-fashioned botanical gouache paintings with plenty of detail, or maybe color lithographic plates from an old book. The first image is an arrangement of the African Iris Fortnight Lily, Dietes iridioides, which blooms plentifully around here, but only once every two weeks (hence the “fortnight”).

African Iris Fortnight Lily © Harold Davis

African Iris Fortnight Lily © Harold Davis

The image below is of Nigella Damascena, sometimes called “Love in a Mist,” shown elsewhere on my blog up close and very personal!

Nigella Damascena © Harold Davis

Nigella Damascena © Harold Davis

Free Webinar: Creative Floral Photography with Harold Davis

What: A Free Webinar. Join Topaz Labs for an exciting session as Harold Davis shows how he uses Topaz plug-ins to enhance his well-known botanical photos.

When: Tuesday, Jul 21, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM PDT, at your computer or mobile device.

Registration: The webinar is free, but you must preregister using this link.

Flowers of Spring's Desire  © Harold Davis

Flowers of Spring’s Desire © Harold Davis

Description: Harold will demonstrate his full workflow, from photo to finished art, incorporating his favorite Topaz programs and how he uses the plug-ins both as tools and endless creative opportunities. Harold’s session will help you learn to make the most from Topaz Adjust, Impression and Simplify in the context of your photography, and explore options for using Topaz in the process of coming up with your own creative style. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the session.

Bonus Feature: Topaz will be announcing Topaz and Focal Press (the publisher of Harold’s forthcoming book, Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer) coupon codes during the session and sending the coupons to all registrants after the session.  Topaz will also be giving away 2 full Topaz Collections (16 programs) and 2 books by Harold Davis courtesy of Focal Press.

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

About Harold: Harold Davis is a well-known photographer, the author of many bestselling photography books, and a popular workshop leader. He is an Adobe Influencer, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Lens Ambassador.

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Sweet Pea after O’Keeffe

After seeing some of my photos mistaken for O’Keeffe’s luscious flower paintings, I took another look at the wondrous botanical art of Georgia O’Keeffe. The sensuous, indeed sexual, nature of the O’Keeffe portrayal of flowers is a pretty obvious characteristic of her paintings.

Flowering Sweet Pea © Harold Davis

Flowering Sweet Pea © Harold Davis

What wasn’t clear to me until I took this further look was the extent to which O’Keeffe plays with magnification and scale. Essentially O’Keeffe is often painting extreme macro compositions, although they do not always seem that way to the viewer because of how they have been magnified and sometimes distorted. In its own way, this is a very photographic approach to painting, as I like to think I approach photography in a painterly way.

Click here to see some of O’Keeffe’s sweet pea paintings (opens Google images in a separate tab/window).

Dogwood & Friends

A Matilija Poppy pokes out in the middle of a covert of flowering dogwood, cosmos, old-fashioned roses, echinacea, and climbing mallows. Enjoy!

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Photographed straight down on my light box for transparency, and captured using my Zeiss 100mm macro lens, five exposures each at f/22 and ISO 64, exposure times from 1/5 of a second to 3 seconds; tripod mounted; exposures processed and combined in Nik HDR Efex Pro, Adobe Camera Raw, and Photoshop, with finishing touches added using Photoshop, Nik Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, Topaz Simplify, Topaz Impression, and Nik Viveza.

Floral Fantasies

These floral fantasies are created and photographed as collages on the light box, then processing in Adobe Camera Raw, Photoshop, Nik, Topaz, and using LAB color adjustments. What fun!

Bright As a Summer's Day © Harold Davis

Bright As a Summer’s Day © Harold Davis

Photographed with my Zeiss Otus 85mm at f/16 and ISO 64 in two panels, each panel with eight exposures ranging from 1/15 of a second to 15 seconds. First I combine the captures in each panel using the techniques explained in my Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ. Then I use Photoshop to combine the left and right sides of this floral panorama, for an extremely high resolution file.

Shadow of the Solarized Moon © Harold Davis

Shadow of the Solarized Moon © Harold Davis

The workflow for processing these images is laborious but a great deal of fun. Learn more via my books, my online webinar recordings, or in a Harold Davis workshop (there are only a few spaces left in my Flower workshop in Maine this August).

Flowers Will Reach the Black Empire © Harold Davis

Flowers Will Reach the Black Empire © Harold Davis

 

Mallow

Like Clematis this is a single blossom, photographed on a light box, inverted to black in LAB, and then converted to monochrome using a virtual Infrared filter. The steps are shown here in inverted order (last is first, and first is last).

Mallow in IR © Harold Davis

Mallow in IR © Harold Davis

Mallow on Black © Harold Davis

Mallow on Black © Harold Davis

Mallow on White © Harold Davis

Mallow on White © Harold Davis

Post-production is so much part of my photographic art that I felt desolated when my production machine gave up the ghost last week. Admittedly, I’ve lived with it for many years, and made it mine. But it has taken me quite some time to get my new computer configured the way I like it—probably worth it, as it is up to handling the enormous files and sizes that I find myself often editing deploying.

Floral Square

Last week when I have a composition on my light box I photographed it with a high resolution camera on tripod. Then I thought, why not do it using my iPhone as well. The results photographed and processed on my iPhone are shown here.

Floral square © Harold Davis

Floral square © Harold Davis

A Short Course in Translucency

Images that verge on the transparent and convey translucency can appear miraculous. If you want to learn my techniques for photographing flowers for transparency on a light box, but can’t attend an in-person workshop with me on the topic, please consider my sequence of informal webinar recordings.

Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack explains the photographic strategy and post-production (click here to register, and click here for more info).

01-title

Creative Use of LAB Color shows some of the techniques I use to add color effects, to invert the backgrounds from white to black, and more (click here to register, and click here for more info).

01-title-LAB

Using Backgrounds and Textures explains many of the techniques I use to create finished artwork from translucent images (click here to register, and click here for more info) by placing a translucent image on a background, or adding a texture file “above” the image.

01-title

Finally, if you are having a little trouble around working with layers in Photoshop, Photoshop Layers 101 may be for you (click here to register, and click here for more info) as I guide you and explain how I work with layers in Photoshop. It is really a great deal simpler than you may think!

01-title-layers101

Each webinar recording costs $19.95 for unlimited access. Please click here for more information about my webinar recordings.

If you are unfamiliar with my techniques, my FAQ explaining Photographing Flowers for Transparency is a good place to start.

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Essays in Translucency

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Practicum Perluciditatem © Harold Davis

Practicum Perluciditatem © Harold Davis

Miraculum Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Flores © Harold Davis

Veil of Roses © Harold Davis

Veil of Roses © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Related stories: The Virtues of Translucency; Clematis; Miraculum Flores.

Miraculum Flores

Flowers are a miracle! This is a spring in Berkeley, California that is wondrous in terms of blossoms, and I have been enjoying it and photographing up a floral storm, almost entirely with flowers Phyllis and I harvest in the neighborhood. The top image is an LAB L-channel inversion, and the middle image is simulated black and white infrared (“ultrarubrum” in Latin)—both images derived in post-production from the “straight” light box image at the bottom. More on these techniques in this earlier sequence of images of a lone Clematis, and more floral imagery to come when I have time to develop and process it.

Miraculum Nigrae Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Nigrae Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Nigrae Flores Ultrarubrum © Harold Davis

Miraculum Nigrae Flores Ultrarubrum © Harold Davis

Miraculum Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Flores © Harold Davis

Clematis

To photograph this Clematis Bee’s Jubilee blossom, I placed it on a light box and photographed it straight down using a tripod with a Nikon D810 and my special Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 lens. The settings were 1/4 of a second at f/16 and ISO 64 (middle image). The top image is an LAB inversion of the L-channel, and the bottom version is simulated infrared (IR), via Nik Color Efex Pro.

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis in IR  © Harold Davis

Clematis in IR © Harold Davis

There seems to be some controversy about where to apostrophate  (where to place the possessive apostrophe) in Clematis Bee’s Jubilee. Well-known horticultural nursery White Flower Farm does it Bees’ Jubilee, which of course implies that this flower is the jubilee of multitudinous bees or of someone named Mr. Bees. However, the plural apostrophization may be incorrect, as this striking flowering Clematis seems to be named after the botanist Rupert Bee (spelled without a trailing ‘s’) of Colchester in the United Kingdom, who first introduced this cultivar in the 1950s.

Related story: We are not afraid of color.

The Virtues of Translucency

Normally, to create the illusion of transparency against a single background is feat enough. In this image I “upped the ante,” by adding white roses above an existing floral arrangement that was already translucent. The second layer of roses makes an additional level of transparency: you can see through the white roses, as if they were a veil, and to the flowers below, which themselves only partially conceal the white backdrop.

Veil of Roses © Harold Davis

Veil of Roses © Harold Davis

One of the tricks with an image like this is to end up with something that looks painterly and elegant, not smudgy. If you try it for yourself, you may find that this is tougher that you might think!

Flora Exhibit at Photo Oakland

Welcome the summer with PHOTO’s beautiful and curious new collection of plant imagery! The exhibition will run May 14 – June 20, 2015. I’ll have a few pieces of my botanical art in this exhibition. Please consider joining me at the artist’s reception on Thursday, May 21, 2015, 6PM – 8PM. Here’s more information about the exhibition.

Papaver Somniferum and Friends © Harold Davis

Papaver Somniferum and Friends © Harold Davis

Exhibition: May 14 – June 20, 2015

Reception: Thursday, May 21, 2015, 6PM – 8PM

PHOTO Fine Art Photography

473 25th Street, Oakland, CA 94612

info@photogalleryoakland.com

For further details: www.photogalleryoakland.com/exhibition/flora-show/

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis