Category Archives: Flowers

Remains of the Clematis

What happens when the bloom on the clematis fades? When the leaves fall off, and all that is left is the wabi-sabi of the central flower core?

Remains of the Clematis © Harold Davis

Remains of the Clematis © Harold Davis

Shown here photographed on a light box, in Photoshop converted to monochromatic, and duplicated—with the duplicate L-channel inverted in LAB color to substitute white for black, and black for white.

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Back to the Flowers

I’ve been in Europe (rural southwestern France, and then Paris) for most of the past month, which has blissfully enabled me to avoid American politics. Except when I admitted to someone that I was American, in which case loud laughter and pointing commenced. Followed (after the second bottle of wine) by the lachrymose admission that things were just as bad locally.

© Harold Davis

The Wild and the Tame © Harold Davis

So coming home I do feel that I’ve slipped into Bad Biff’s alternative universe in Back to the Future Part II, with he-who-shall-not-be-named all too likely to become our new overlord. The only defense to this mass insanity is to practice Back to the Flowers as a viable alternative to Back to the Future.

Also posted in Photography

Recent Flower Images

Before I leave for France later this week I wanted to blog a few of my recent flower photos. Enjoy!

Clematis 'Bees Jubilee' and 'Daniel Deronda' © Harold Davis

Clematis ‘Bees Jubilee’ and ‘Daniel Deronda’ © Harold Davis

Clematis 'Bees Jubilee' and 'Daniel Deronda' Color Inversion © Harold Davis

Clematis ‘Bees Jubilee’ and ‘Daniel Deronda’ Color Inversion © Harold Davis

Clematis 1 © Harold Davis

Clematis 1 © Harold Davis

Tulips Are for Peeking © Harold Davis

Tulips Are for Peeking © Harold Davis

Ranunculi in a Blue Bowl

Ranunculi is the plural of ranunculus and I think makes a better plural for this wonderful flower than “ranunculuses.” By whatever plural form, Ranunculi in a Blue Bowl forms the third of a trio of blossoms-in-a-blue-bowl imagery. The other two images are shown in Orchids in a Blue Bowl and Clematis in a Blue Bowl, and are also shown in this story beneath my ranunculi.

Ranunculi in a Blue Bowl© Harold Davis

Ranunculi in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Orchids in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Orchids in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Clematis in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Clematis in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Kerry’s Bouquet

It’s a great pleasure to have a surprise bouquet of flowers show up on our front porch—perhaps particularly when one has really done nothing to merit the sumptuous arrangement. If one is then compelled to partially deconstruct the floral arrangement to create a composition on one’s light box, well then, I am afraid that is what flowers can expect when they enter my environs—and I can only assure the donor of the flowers that the flowers did their duty in what I believe to be a good cause. Perhaps the flowers may find consolation in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (“So long lives this and this gives life to thee”) along the floral route to immortality.

Kerry's Bouquet © Harold Davis

Kerry’s Bouquet © Harold Davis

Interested in how I made this image? Please consider my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.

Spring Wreath

Here’s a spring wreath of flowers composed on my light box for you to enjoy! Happy spring!

Spring Wreath © Harold Davis

Spring Wreath © Harold Davis

Interested in how I made this image? Please consider my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.

Clematis in a Blue Bowl

I photographed Clematis in a Blue Bowl as a companion piece to Orchids in a Blue Bowl, shown far below and (with exposure and processing information) in this blog story.

Clematis in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Clematis in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Orchids in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Orchids in a Blue Bowl © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Clematis, and tulips, and irises, Oh My!

Painting with Flowers Inverted © Harold Davis

Painting with Flowers Inverted © Harold Davis

Painting with Flowers © Harold Davis

Painting with Flowers © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Photographed on a light box with a Nikon D810, MC-36A remote release, and Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 ZF-mount. Two panels, combined horizontally. Each panel comprised of 7 exposures from 1/15 of a second (darkest) to 4 seconds (lightest). All 14 exposures at f/16 and ISO 64, combined in ACR and Photoshop. Final master file resolution for each of the two images—on white (above), and the LAB L-channel inversion (top)—at 10,431 X 4,912 pixels by 300 ppi.

Workshops: From iPhone to Art is now full. Some spaces are available in Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer (Maine, in August) and Photographing Flowers for Transparency (December, in California). My 2016 Workshops & Events calendar is here.

More info: Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ.

Also posted in Photography

Wheel of Flowers

This is a fairly regular, patterned image using cymbidium orchids on the outer most ring. Daffodils are next, with irises forming the inner circle around a single red tulip blossom.

Wheel of Flowers (on White) © Harold Davis

Wheel of Flowers (on White) © Harold Davis

To create the version of the image on black, I inverted the L-Channel using Photoshop’s LAB color.

Wheel of Flowers (on Black) © Harold Davis

Wheel of Flowers (on Black) © Harold Davis

Which do you prefer, the image on white or on black?

Related images: MandahliaLow Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion.

Learning to Photograph Flowers for Transparency (article on Pixsy blog)

I’ve written an article now posted on the Pixsy blog about my technique for photographing flowers for transparency on a light box:

What are the steps to mastering the process? Surprisingly, it combines classical photography and modern digital best practices. When applied with a dedicated, delicate, and skilled hand, the results can be luscious and luminous. Here’s how my Photographing Flowers for Transparency process works out, step-by-step:

  • Understanding the role of the light box
  • Selecting and arranging flowers on the light box
  • Photographing a high-key bracketed sequence of exposures
  • Combining the high-key bracketed sequence to express transparency
  • Finishing the image in post-production
  • Creating a high-quality print of the transparent flower image

Let’s take a look at each of these steps in order.

Read more of the article on the Pixsy blog.

Nature's Palette © Harold Davis

Nature’s Palette © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Writing

Stargazer Lilies

Stargazer Lilies © Harold Davis

Stargazer Lilies © Harold Davis

I photographed these Stargazer Lilies on a light box to show them on a white background. With one version (above) I added them in Photoshop to a scanned paper background. With another version, I used LAB inversions to show the flowers against a black background (below)

 Stargazer Lilies on Black © Harold Davis

Stargazer Lilies on Black © Harold Davis

Related resources (FAQs): Photographing Flowers for Transparency; Using a High-Key Layer Stack; Backgrounds and Textures.

Pentaptych of Tulip Petals

Inspecting some pink tulips the other day, I noticed that the demarcation behind petals and leaves was not as clear as I had thought it would be. With this flower, the difference between the leaves and petals was gradual and a difference of degree rather than an absolute—the closer to the flower core the more petal-like it looked.

Pentaptych of Tulip Petals © Harold Davis

Pentaptych of Tulip Petals © Harold Davis—click to view the image larger

So some of these petals are leaves, and some of these leaves are petals. Be that as it may, and referring to all as petals, I noticed that the petals were wonderfully colorful when placed on the light box.

I photographed each of the five petals separately as a high-resolution vertical image, using a macro lens with an added extension tube to get sufficient magnification. I then combined the five horizontal images to make the single horizontal shown.

Obviously, this is a very high resolution file (although the reduced JPEG shown here may not give much sense of that). Putting it together in post-production strained the resources of my twin 6-core 128GB RAM high-end Mac.

You can view the image a bit larger by clicking here, or by clicking on the image itself.

My thought is to take advantage of the resolution, and make a really large print, perhaps twenty feet wide, which would let the viewer really see the details in the petals.

A triptych is a work of art divided in three sections, a tetraptych is a work of art in four sections, and a pentaptych is a work of art in five sections (the numerical prefixes come from the ancient Greek number words). So it seemed natural call my image Pentaptych of Tulip Petals—one “tych” for each of the five petals!

Papaver Nudicaule

A bright flower for a gray day in the East Bay! For more about photographing this Icelandic Poppy, click here.

Papaver Nudicaule © Harold Davis

Papaver Nudicaule © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Two Icelandic Poppies

Phyllis and I like to take out slices of pizza, and eat them in the beautiful garden at Berkeley Horticultural Nurseries. The other day, after having our lunch while sitting on a bench, we wandered—and I admired some Icelandic Poppies, Papaver nudicaule, in first bloom. Imagine my surprise when Phyllis came home the next day with two pots for me to enjoy and photograph!

Two Icelandic Poppies © Harold Davis

Two Icelandic Poppies © Harold Davis

Two Icelandic Poppies (above) was photographed for transparency on a light box using a high-key series of bracketed exposures. Yum (below) was photographed somewhat more conventionally on a white seamless background using my nifty Zeiss 50mm f/2 macro lens.

Yum © Harold Davis

Yum © Harold Davis

I am heading to New York for several days for meetings with my publishers and sponsors, so most likely I won’t be posting stories for a little while. In the meantime, let me leave you with the thought that when news seems dark and gray, it is so important to remember the beauty and joy of the world as well. We stand up for ourselves when we do what is joyful, and don’t give into those who would enslave the human capacity for freedom and delight.

In that light, please consider traveling with me to Paris the first week in May (my group has room for just two more photographers), to Tuscany in October, and Venice in November. The Italian destination photo tours have a nice early-bird discount for registrations through the end of the month. Click here for my 2016 Works & Events Calendar as it is shaping up.

Also posted in Photography, Workshops

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion

I spent a few days doodling and noodling with flowers, first on the light box for transparency and then with LAB inversions in Photoshop, and Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis (shown here as an inversion) is one of the images I came up with!

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion © Harold Davis

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography