Category Archives: Flowers

Persistence of Personal Vision

I’ve been struck on a number of occasions how the same elements in a scene interest me photographically, even after a gap of many years. Returning to a mountainside in the Sierra Nevada, a canyon in Zion, or the streets of Paris, without conscious intention I focus on the same cliff, tree, or urban detail as when I last visited. Maybe the underlying idea is slightly different, and one can certainly hope the execution has improved over the intervening time. But it is odd to see one’s default perceptual mode as a kind of iterative repetition. And now I see the same thing happens with still life composition.

Sunflowers and Friends 2 © Harold Davis

Sunflowers and Friends 2 © Harold Davis

A case in point is Sunflowers and Friends 2, shown above. I assembled this light box still life over the weekend, using elements I had to hand—mostly sunflowers and irises. I gave little thought to past or future, and mostly in a kind of trance-like state. This creative way of being is sometimes called “being in the zone.”

Sunflowers and Friends 2 Sunflowers and Friends Flowers from My Garden © Harold Davis

Imagine my surprise when memory and sense of my surroundings returned to me, and I discovered some similarity in subject and composition to Sunflowers and Friends, made in August of this year and shown below, and even the much earlier Flowers from My Garden, made in 2012 and shown far below. I think the three images (shown together above) would make a nice grouping of prints!

Sunflowers and Friends © Harold Davis

Sunflowers and Friends © Harold Davis

Flowers from My Garden © Harold Davis

Flowers from My Garden © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Passion for Flowers

A passion for flower photography is of course one of my ruling passions. What better way to show it than by photographing this Passiflora (“passion flower”) from a vine outside our living room window. The image is a single exposure shot on a light box, processed through Adobe Camera Raw multiple times for enhanced dynamic range. The upper version is an LAB inversion of the original photo, which is shown at the bottom with its white background.

Passiflora Inversion © Harold Davis

Passiflora Inversion © Harold Davis

The biggest challenge with this image was getting it to stay upright on the light box, which I did with the help of some clear Museum Gel.

Passiflora © Harold Davis

Passiflora © Harold Davis

Exposure data: D810, Zeiss 50mm f/2 macro, 4/5 of a second at f/22 and ISO 64, tripod mounted.

Related FAQs: Photographing Flowers for Transparency; Selective LAB Sharpening.

Also posted in Photography

Special Print Offer: Kiss from a Rose

Special Print Offer: Kiss from a Rose by Harold Davis on Moab Juniper Baryta

I am offering a limited-time print special: my Kiss from a Rose, shown below, printed at roughly 11″ X 14″ on Moab Paper’s wonderful new Juniper Baryta. The price for the print is $250.00, which is a fraction of our normal studio retail print pricing.

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

The fine print: California residents add sales tax; shipping within the continental Unites States is $25; offer subject to withdrawal if we feel like it; contact us by phone or email with questions or to place an order; payment accepted via cash, check, or credit card.

Kiss from a Rose is my image most often mistaken for a Georgia O’Keeffe painting; also see When is a Harold Davis rose a Georgia O’Keeffe?

Also posted in Photography, Print of the Month

Sunflowers and Friends

Sunflowers and Friends © Harold Davis

Sunflowers and Friends © Harold Davis

Sunflowers and Friends is a light box bracketed high-key sequence combined in Photoshop. The sunflowers, echinacea, and other flowers are from our garden, and shown in In the field for transparency and I can only give my heart. The background is a sheet of old paper I put on a flat-bed scanner, and added in Photoshop using the same formula as the Dietes iridioides and Nigella Damascena images shown in Two Botanicals.

To learn more about the techniques I use to create this kind of imagery, please see my FAQs Photographing Flowers for Transparency, Using a High-Key Layer Stack, and Backgrounds and Textures. You can also check out my related webinar recordings (paid access is required): Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack and Using Backgrounds and Textures.

I can only give my heart

Words have a place as a companion to photography, as titles, in captions, in statements, and in books that combine words and imagery. It’s often a useful exercise to attempt to write about one’s own photographic process and goals, as well as writing to describe the narrative behind a specific image.

I can only give my heart © Harold Davis

I can only give my heart © Harold Davis

Regarding cryptic titles, such as “I can only give my heart,” modern painters have led the way with this, sometimes applying titles for abstract paintings that can seem far-fetched. But I believe that metaphorical titles can be appropriate and, when apt, do enhance the poetics of a photographic image.

Ian Roberts puts it this way: “Authenticity results from the depths of the artist’s feelings.” In other words, I only follow the labor intensive process of creating an image like this one because the subject and treatment move me, and because I speak from the heart. So, I can only give my heart.

From a formal perspective, “I can only give my heart” is about the relationship between soft petals and the “harder” flower core of the flowers with pistil, stamen and so forth. Compared to the fluff of the petals, all the flower really has is its core, or heart, which is another meaning for the title.

By the “poetics of a photographic image,” I am really talking about the subjective individual experience to the viewer. There’s no doubt that the image title can influence this experience (for better, or for worse). In your experience, doesn’t an allusive title like “I can only give my heart” lead to a more poetic viewing experience than the straightforward title “Echinacea” for the image shown below? Which kind of image titling do you prefer?

Echinacea © Harold Davis

Echinacea © Harold Davis

Also posted in Writing

In the field for transparency

One interesting point that often comes up in my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshops (such as the recent one I gave at Maine Media) is whether the techniques I teach in this workshop are limited to shooting flowers on a light box. Of course, the answer is a resounding “No!”—because these photographic and post-production methods cut a wide swath. One application is studio photography on a dark background, which reverses the direction of the bracketed shooting sequence and the order of layer stacking as in this in-class example. Conceptually, other than the order inversion, this is the same set of ideas as photographing on a light box.

Sunflower © Harold Davis

Sunflower © Harold Davis

The techniques advanced by this workshop work well outside the studio as well as in it. The same shooting and post-production ideas as in light box photography work for backlit situations in the field—which is what I used for this shot of translucent sunflower petals, with the early morning sun coming from behind.

Exposure data: Nikon D810, Zeiss 50mm Makro-Planar f/2, two exposures (one at 1/40 of a second and one at 1/10 of a second), each exposure at f/14 and ISO 400, tripod mounted; exposures processed and combined in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop.

Also posted in Photography

Flowers on Black

I photographed these flowers just now on black seamless as a demonstration of a bracketed sequence for low-key HDR photography from my Maine Media flower photography workshop.

© Harold Davis

Flowers on Black © Harold Davis

Also posted in HDR, Photography

Mandahlia: Dahlia Mandala

The basis for this image is a photo I made today during a field trip with my Creative Flower Photography workshop here in Rockport, Maine at the Maine Media Workshops. We paid a visit to the wonderful Endless Summer Dahlia Farm, which markets tubers (bulbs) to “dahlia addicts” across the country. What a great privilege to be able to photograph in this stunning and serene place!

© Harold Davis

Mandahlia: Dahlia Mandala © Harold Davis

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Castle Shadow © Harold Davis

Castle Shadow © Harold Davis

Painterly Floral Triptych © Harold Davis

Painterly Floral Triptych © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone, Photography, Writing

Clematis on Black

I’ve edited the slide show on my website home page, www.digitalfieldguide.com, to include some new images including: Salutation to the Sun, Spires of Prague, House of Mirrors, and the Clematis on Black shown below. Check out the slide show on my home page!

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Conversation with Harold Davis

Dominique James has published a Q&A with me on his blog, along with a cool curation of some of my images. Check it out! Thanks DJ.

Yesterday I photographed the Dahlia shown below hand-held and wide open so the flower center would be sharp with the petals becoming soft. This contrasts with the high depth-of-field, stopped down approach I used with flowers from the same plant a few days ago.

Dahlia Wide Open © Harold Davis

Dahlia Wide Open © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D810, Zeiss Makro-Planar 50mm f/2 at f/2, 1/500 of a second and ISO 400, hand held.

Also posted in Photography, Writing

Framed: Flowers of Spring’s Desire

I printed my Flowers of Spring’s Desires on Moab’s elegant Juniper Baryta Rag for a friend and collector. She framed it in white, with a pink inner mat. Very nice effect.

Framed - Flower of Spring's Desire © Harold Davis

Framed – Flower of Spring’s Desire by Harold Davis

White Dahlia

Every time I am away for an extended trip Phyllis seems to embark on a home improvement project. This time, while I was in the Czech Republic and giving my workshop in Heidelberg, she outdid herself with a great reconfiguration of the living room. Outside, she put a small cast iron table on our front porch for breakfast and the like surrounded by pots of flowers. In one of the pots she planted a white dahlia.

Dahlia #2 © Harold Davis

Dahlia #2 © Harold Davis

I photographed one of the nearly perfect white dahlias on my light box using the Zeiss 50mm f/2 macro lens, which is truly one of the best macro lenses in my kit (and I have many macro lenses, my joke is that had I been Imelda Marcos I would have collected macro lenses rather than shoes!).

In the version above, I used an LAB inversion of the L-channel to show the white flower on a black background. The version below is more like how the flower would normally look on a white background in a monochromatic rendition.

Now, the only question is what will Phyllis improve while I am in Maine the first half of August?

Dahlia #1 © Harold Davis

Dahlia #1 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

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

 

Also posted in Photography

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

Also posted in Photography, Workshops