Category Archives: Flowers

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

Flowers at a Restaurant

I photographed these orchids through translucent etched glass at the handsome Murray Circle Restaurant at the Cavallo Point Inn, part of Fort Baker in Sausalito, California. The location is right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. If you are interested, you can read my review of the restaurant on Trip Advisor (opens in a new window).

Flowers at a Restaurant © Harold Davis

Flowers at a Restaurant © Harold Davis

Photographed using my iPhone camera app, and processed in Waterlogue.

We are not afraid of color

I photographed these flowers on my light box using the bright and sharp Zeiss Otus 85mm lens, then created a number of variations in Photoshop. The colors in flowers give me a palette to experiment with saturation and contrast, and I herewith proclaim: Bring it on! I love color!

We are not afraid of color © Harold Davis

We are not afraid of color © Harold Davis

Patterns in the Zeitgeist © Harold Davis

Patterns in the Zeitgeist © Harold Davis

Flowers are the jungle © Harold Davis

Flowers are the jungle © Harold Davis

Beyond the blue light  © Harold Davis

Beyond the blue light © Harold Davis

Solarized Flowers © Harold Davis

Solarized Flowers © Harold Davis

If you are interested in my flower photography techniques both in the camera and in post-production, there are still a few spots left in my Creative Flower Photography workshop at Maine Media in Rockport, Maine this coming August (2015). This is a five-day workshop that will cover light box photography, creative field flower photography, and Photoshop techniques.

Related story: An Amazing Amalgamation of Anemones.

Tulips in a Glass Vase

To make this image, I placed the vase of tulips on a mirror, and lit the vase and flowers from behind with a standing light box. This is the same setup and technique I used in the images shown in HDR is technique, not style. You can see the setup and get an idea about the processing from the spread on pages 128-131 of Creating HDR Photos.

Tulips in a Glass Vase © Harold Davis

Tulips in a Glass Vase © Harold Davis

I also experimented with a simulated, virtual solarization of the image, converted to black & white, shown below.

Tulips in a Glass Vase - Solarized © Harold Davis

Tulips in a Glass Vase – Solarized © Harold Davis

Echinacea

Last year I bought an Echinacea and planted it in a pot on the porch, assuming it would essentially be an annual. Somewhat to my surprise, it has come back strongly for a second year in its pot. We water it with recycled water—such as unfinished water bottles started by the kids. The young flowers are translucent and striated, like the day-old blossom shown. As the flowers mature, the petals become opaque, and a mono-colored shade of pink magenta.

 

Echinacia © Harold Davis

Echinacia © Harold Davis

New Iris Macros

I’ve been having fun with some photography of a kind I haven’t done in a while: relatively straight macro photography of flowers. The photography is straightforward (as I explain below), but the aesthetic goals are a bit different than the last time I tackled photographing Iris in this way (for example, in Winged Iris): if my work is going to be confused with Georgia O’Keeffe, I may as well consciously try for a painterly effect.

Iris Petals © Harold Davis

Iris Petals © Harold Davis

To make this photos, I placed the individual Iris on a black background, and lit them from the side using sunlight. I photographed with my Zeiss 100mm f/2 macro lens, to which I added a Nikon PN-11 52.5mm extension tube so I could get close enough.

Iris Translucency © Harold Davis

Iris Translucency © Harold Davis

There are so many wonderful and creative ways to tackle flower photography. It is fun to have this as my “job,” and get to come up with new approaches to the glorious and sexy subject that the flora around us presents. I hope if you have followed the flower photography stories on my blog, read my book about flower photography, and perhaps viewed my Photographing Flowers online course that I’ve given you some ideas how you might creatively approach photographing flowers.

Blue Iris

Blue Iris © Harold Davis

 

An Amazing Amalgamation of Anemones

Over the past few days I’ve had some amazing tulips as well as an amalgamation of anemones to play with. I have to admit to some inspirational thoughts looking through Georgia O’Keeffe paintings as research, although the reference isn’t clear in this image, the first I’ve processed from the many I’ve made. More work will follow as I have the time to process it.

Amazing Anemones © Harold Davis

Amazing Anemones © Harold Davis

To make Amazing Anemones, I used a Nikon D810, my Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4, Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop processing using LAB color, and shot on a light box using a tripod. As opposed to many of my light box images, with this one I limited the light on the front of the flowers, so that essentially all illumination was coming from behind—through the flowers. Back lighting emphasizes the translucency of the petals, and the transparent colors that are reminiscent of stained-glass.

When is a Harold Davis rose a Georgia O’Keeffe?

A rose is a rose is a rose, except when it is not. A Harold Davis rose photo is apparently a Georgia O’Keeffe rose painting when you search Google Images for “Georgia O’Keeffe” (opens in a separate window, may be a number of rows down) except when it is actually Kiss from a Rose by Harold Davis (shown below). I’m really pretty flattered by the association, as Georgia O’Keeffe is certainly one of my great artistic heroes.

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

I was alerted to my photo made in homage to O’Keeffe being mistaken for a literal O’Keefe by a reader who wrote, “Hi Harold! Love your Rose Photography. I see on Google your work is confused with Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings!” While this case of mistaken artistic identity mostly involves Kiss from a Rose, some of my other images such as Eye of the Rose and even the book cover for my Photographing Flowers also occasionally show up categorized as O’Keeffe’s.

The conflation of Harold Davis photos with Georgia O’Keeffe paintings get even more pronounced on Pinterest, where a number of “boards” have “pinned” my image as a Georgia O’Keeffe’s. (See www.pinterest.com/terper1234/georgia-o-keeffe/ (my rose is called “a lush red O’Keeffe”), www.pinterest.com/nicolenotch/artist-o-keefe/ (once again my rose is ascribed to O’Keeffe) as examples, although this Pinterest Fakes and Mistakes board notes correctly that “NOT GEORGIA O’KEEFFE >>> this is a photo by Harold Davis”).

By the way, I really have a bone to pick with Pinterest. Trivially, the user interface is inept and fascistic, insisting that I create “Boards” and “Streams,” when I all I want is to browse, and failing to correctly find search terms. More significantly, Pinterest encourages appropriation of my intellectual property: nowhere I have authorized my images to appear on Pinterest, and the company behind the site is apparently getting massive venture funding and purports to be for-profit. Class action lawsuit, anyone?

Flowers of Spring’s Desires

Flowers of Spring's Desire  © Harold Davis

Flowers of Spring’s Desire © Harold Davis

Photographed Friday on my light box using my Nikon D810, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 at f/16 and ISO 64 on the tripod. Eight blended exposures at shutter speeds from 8 seconds to 1/15 of second. Processed over the weekend using Adobe Camera RAW, Photoshop, Nik HDR Efex Pro, Nik Color Efex Pro, Topaz Adjust, and Topaz Simplify.

Please see my FAQ for more info about how I made this image: Photographing Flowers for Transparency.

Blue Irises for Simplicity

I photographed these beautiful blue irises for simplicity of composition on a light box, then in Photoshop added the background and light texture I used with Peonies mon amour.

Blue Irises © Harold Davis

Blue Irises © Harold Davis

Related resource: To learn more about how I made this image, please see my FAQ: Photographing Flowers for Transparency.

Wabi-Sabi Anemones

Beauty should never be a hostage to perfection. Wabi-sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that recognizes the beauty in transience and imperfection. These anemones were beautiful in their prime. They are also beautiful, in a different and perhaps deeper way, as they age.

Wabi-Sabi Anemones © Harold Davis

Wabi-Sabi Anemones © Harold Davis

Photographed on a white seamless background using sunlight with my Nikon D810 and Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 at 1.6 seconds, f/16, and ISO 64.

Related story: Tulip Wabi-Sabi.

Preview my Craftsy Photographing Flowers course

Click here to watch the trailer for my Photographing Flowers course on the Craftsy platform. Use this link to sign up for Photographing Flowers with a special 50% off today.

Red Tulip at Giverny © Harold Davis

Red Tulip at Giverny © Harold Davis

If you like flower photography, you might also be interested in my books Photographing Flowers (Focal Press) and Creative Close-Ups (Wiley).

I’ll also be giving two flower photography workshops in 2015, a Masterclass in Creative Flower Photography in June at the Heidelberg, Germany Summer School of Photography (class taught in English) and a Creative Flower Photography workshop at Maine Media in Rockport, Maine in August.

Tulips on White © Harold Davis

Tulips on White © Harold Davis

Bouquet of Anemones

These pretty anemones come from Thomas Farms, and are organic (as well as locally sourced). The potential advantages of eating organic food are pretty clear, but why buy organic cut flowers? According to Thomas Farms, “Most cut flowers available in the U.S. are grown, assembled and packaged in third-world countries, where pesticide regulations are lax. Because flowers are such a high-value crop, they are doused with insecticides, fungicides and growth regulators, including chemicals that have been banned or restricted in the U.S. due to health or environmental concerns.” You can read more on the Thomas Farms website.

Bouquet of Anemones © Harold Davis

Bouquet of Anemones © Harold Davis

This bouquet of anemones was photographed with tender love on my light box for transparency using my Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 lens using a Nikon D810. Click here to see close-ups of a couple of these anemones.

Anemone Fun

I am always amazed when I start a flower photography session: no two flowers are ever the same, and there are always an infinitude of possible ways to imagine a flower photo. Once you take up flower photography there is little chance that you will ever be bored.

Anemone 1 © Harold Davis

Anemone 1 © Harold Davis

These anemones interested me because they both showed red marking on a fairly white background. I photographed each with my Zeiss Otus 85mm lens, using three bracketed exposures. The darkest exposure was for the outer petals, and the lightest exposure was for the dark—almost black—core of each anemone.

Anemone 2 © Harold Davis

Anemone 2 © Harold Davis

The layer masks I created to combine the exposures bear some resemblance to bullseye targets. Either that, or to Kenneth Noland paintings without the color.

Want to see more of my anemone images? Check out Anemones ReduxNature’s Palette, Tulips and Anemones, and Anemones.

Click here for the Flower Photography category on my blog.