Category Archives: Photoshop Techniques

LAB Adjustments Rule!

To make this image, I placed a ring of small, blue Lobelia flowers from the garden on a light box. Next, I surrounded it with a ring of chamomile flowers, which have white petals and a slightly yellowish interior. In the center I placed a glass purple heart. The original version is shown second from the top, with the other variations created in Photoshop using LAB color channel adjustments.

If you’d like to learn how I use LAB color creatively for effects like these, check out my Advanced LAB Color Seminar on Saturday, November 12, 2016. Note that a free book give-away and an early-bird special discount both apply until July 31, 2016.

© Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation B © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation E © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation E © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation D © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation D © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation F © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation F © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation C © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation C © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation AA © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation AA © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation A © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation A © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Handsome Gargoyle Devil and the Pinhole Effect

A gargoyle is a carved grotesque, with (sometimes) the practical function of serving as a down spout for rain, and often the emotional purpose of warding off evil spirits. The world’s most famous gargoyles are those on the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris—which, however, are probably as much due to the Gothic romanticist architect Viollet-le-Duc as they are to historical veracity and antiquity. When Viollet-le-Duc reconstructed Notre Dame in the 1860s, it was tumbling down and virtually abandoned. Violett-le-Duc’s renovation was strongly inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame—a work of romantic fiction not particularly based in historical realities.

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Whatever the historical authenticity of the Notre Dame gargoyles, they are a marvelous subject for photography, and a “must see” on any first visit to Paris, particularly if you have kids with you (my fourteen-year-old son Nicky joined me for my last visit to Paris in the spring, so I got a refresher in all things gargoyle, and hot chocolate as well!).

The first cameras were pinhole cameras. Pinhole cameras don’t have a lens.  Instead of a lens, light passes through a tiny hole; the light passing through this hole forms the image inside the camera. A camera obscura is a large pinhole camera where light passes through a tiny hole—the smaller the hole, or aperture, the sharper the image—and is projected on the back wall of an otherwise dark room.

The projected image is upside down, but perspective and other characteristics are preserved, so a camera obscura can be used to create detailed drawings that are accurate representations of scenes.

The first camera obscura was created by Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham in the eleventh century. In the west, the optics of the pinhole effect were imported from the Arab world, and understood as early as the fifteenth century Renaissance (they were described by Leonardo da Vinci and others). The use of the optical pinhole effect in the camera obscura was one of the key discoveries leading up to the invention of photography; if you get the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a large camera obscura, found in public parks in a number of major cities (adjacent to Seal Rocks in San Francisco).

I processed my image of this gargoyle as a demonstration of the post-production pinhole effect (adding the pinhole look-and-feel in the Photoshop darkroom rather than in the camera) for my forthcoming book The Photographers Black and White Handbook. The result is a blend of the Nik Silver Efex Pinhole preset (70%) and the Topaz B&W Effects Pinhole (30%).

Also posted in Monochrome, Paris, Photography

Negative-for-Positive Funhouse Fun

This is a photo of the Hall of Mirrors in Prague in the Czech Republic. To create the negative-for-positive effect—which is somewhat like looking at a film negative rather than a print positive—in Photoshop I converted the image to LAB color, then applied an adjustment to invert the L-channel. You can click here to see the original Hall of Mirrors image.

Hall of Mirrors LAB Inversion © Harold Davis

Hall of Mirrors LAB Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Czech

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

Also posted in Flowers, Workshops

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).

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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.

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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!

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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

Also posted in Flowers, Workshops

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

Also posted in Flowers, Photography

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.

Also posted in Flowers, Photography

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.

Also posted in Flowers, Photography, Workshops

Inversions (and lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!)

From the humble Echinacea photographed for its delicate petals, the miracle of LAB channel inversions and adjustments leads straight to the drug-crazed and colorful versions you see here (just as they used to think soft drugs led to harder ones). Poppies will put them to sleep, and their little dog too! Even though the Echinacea is a simple, calming herb, and it is certainly no relative of Morpheus or his fearsome descendants.

Echinacia Inversion © Harold Davis

Echinacea Inversion © Harold Davis

I plan to print these images as a quadtych. In other words, four images, with the original Echinacea and the three shown here.

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

What a great word “quadtych” is! Almost as nice as “quidditch.” I often create sequences using the creative power of LAB, and these seem like a natural for printing quadtychs—and even pentaptychs and hexaptychs!

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photograms

LAB Color Adjustments

I’m often asked what I mean by LAB color adjustments, so I thought I’d show a simple set. These adjustments are based on a likely suspect, the succulent from my front porch I shot in September. The image is shown in its original version in the linked story (check out the color version) and at the bottom here. The LAB color adjustments I used are shown in the caption of each version. Incidentally, these adjustments are pretty thoroughly explained in The Photoshop Darkroom; you can also download the Photoshop action I wrote to generate this set of adjustments.

Succulent-LAB-All Channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-All Channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-L-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-L-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent - LAB A-channel equalization-inverted © Harold Davis

Succulent – LAB A-channel equalization-inverted © Harold Davis

Succulent - LAB A-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent – LAB A-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-B-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-B-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB A-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB A-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent, original version  © Harold Davis

Succulent, original version © Harold Davis

A Rorschach for MFA’s

This image, with the working title Gates after Rodin, shows one model many times. The model, Jacs Fishburne, is a self-described “tornado disguised as a woman.” In the studio, Jacs was posing on a large metal hoop, sometimes called a Lyra. The Lyra was suspended by two ropes about six feet above the ground, with a black background. For some of the exposures Jacs was kneeling on the ground “holding up” the Lyra.

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

To make the image, I shot five in-camera multiple exposures, with Autogain turned on so that each multiple exposure was properly calibrated. Each of the multiple exposures consisted of five to eight individual shots, with Jacs changing her pose between each one. I used basic studio lighting for an even, consistent look and my D800 with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.

I then combined the in-camera multiple exposures in Photoshop, using both stacking and selectively pasting bits from various versions in using layers and masking. By some ways of counting, this makes for a total of somewhere between 25 and 40 different captures of Jacs, when you multiply the number of files by the number of times she appears in each.

Before finishing the image by adding a texture, I retouched out the ropes from above holding the Lyra, leaving the circular Lyra mostly in place.

A friend writes: “It brings up associations with five or six classic paintings from earlier eras. I see the Winged Victory of Samothrace on the left, and the hand of the Sphinx on the center right. Cardinal Richelieu is in the center. The face in profile at the upper left comes from something I can’t quite place and the depictions of hell by the famous Dutch painter What’s-His-Name are at the bottom [Hieronymus Bosch]. And then there’s the hint of the sumi-e circle of light again [the Lyra]. It’s like a Rorschach for MFA’s! ”

My own association is with Rodin’s Gates of Hell. I saw a casting in the garden at the Rodin Museum in Paris this spring. Maybe the memory of the Gates was lurking in my subconscious, waiting for a chance to emerge!

Related story: Multiple Exposures.

Also posted in Abstractions, Models, Photography

Creative Photoshop Fun Day

Registration and information for the Creative Photoshop Fun Day with Harold Davis (Saturday, September 13, 2014)

I often get asked about my Photoshop techniques in the course of a workshop. In a general workshop that involves photography there just isn’t enough time to cover the vast multitude of creative Photoshop techniques that you can use in depth. This workshop will provide a one-time opportunity to do that exploration of Photoshop: both as a creative medium, and as an artistic partner with digital photography.

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

I will also work with each participant to develop their personal Photoshop style and to process one or more of their own images using the techniques demonstrated in this workshop.

Let’s spend a fun day together playing in Photoshop! We’ll work with layers, masking, textures, backgrounds, selections, filters, LAB color, and more. There will be time for image review, and for helping participants with individual creative projects.

The focus will be on creating an individual Photoshop workflow that is fun and that energizes. Take your Photoshop creativity to the next level!

Church at Auvers © Harold Davis

Van Gogh’s church at Auvers-sur-Oise © Harold Davis

Registration: http://www.meetup.com/Harold-Davis/events/186153022/

Prerequisites:  Participants are expected to know how to use their computers and to have (at a minimum) a basic knowledge of Photoshop. Please contact us with any questions about whether you have the appropriate background for this workshop.

Davis- The Way of the Digital PhotographerSuggested advance reading/viewing: The Way of the Digital Photographer and the Harold Davis Photoshop webinar recordings.

What to bring: Please bring a laptop with Photoshop installed and some of your images that you would like to work on. The following software is also suggested (but not required): the Nik Collection, Topaz Adjust and Topaz Simplify.

When: Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 9AM to 6PM, with an hour break for lunch.

Where: The workshop is hosted in Berkeley, California, in a convenient location near the upscale Fourth Street shopping district and close to the University Avenue exit from I80.

Tuition: $295 per person. Workshop is limited to a maximum of 16 participants.

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Duos and Redos

The first duo (and redo) is another in-camera multiple exposure in the series with Solace for the Wild Rest and Being and Becoming. With Earthbound Angels (below),  I also added a white, transparent scarf as an image element when making the choreographed exposures, creating the wing-like effects. Check out the three Multiple Exposures here!

Earthbound Angels © Harold Davis

Earthbound Angels © Harold Davis

The second image, Dance (below), is an iPhone reworking of Models via the Plastic Bullet and Waterlogue iPhone apps.

Dance © Harold Davis

Dance © Harold Davis

Doing something once can be a great deal of fun, but redoing it can redouble one’s pleasure. I’m having great fun with these abstractions—particularly the multiple exposures—and I’ve heard them likened to Botacelli’s La Primavera, Picasso paintings (specifically Les Demoiselles d’Avignon) and Georgia O’Keeffe skulls.

Maybe, maybe not. But I like doing something in-camera for once, and having people think it is Photoshop. Go figure, I say who cares how an image was created if it is good, but this false dichotomy of photography versus Photoshop seems to be a very emotional issue for some people. I guess the world will always have its big-enders versus little-enders because a bone to quarrel over is easier than actually becoming creative.

Also posted in Photography

New Webinar Sessions with Harold Davis

Please consider one of our upcoming live webinar offerings. Each costs $29.95, has very limited seat availability, and includes access to the webinar recording following the session (a $19.95 value). Details regarding each webinar follow below.

Using Backgrounds and Textures (Second Session, Thursday June 5 at 7PM PT)

Selective Sharpening with LAB Color  (Second Session, Sunday June 8 at 3PM PT)

Creative Use of LAB Color (World Premier, Saturday July 26 at 3PM PT)

For more information about the webinar format as a way to learn about photography and Photoshop, check out our FAQ, About Harold Davis Webinar Recordings.

 

Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis

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Second Session: Thursday June 5, 2014 at 7PM PT. Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Have you ever wanted to turn your photos into fine art design pieces? With a little bit of Photoshop know-how, a few inexpensive tools, and the techniques explained in this webinar, it’s easy to create unique art imagery, guided by your vision and creativity.

Placing a photo on a background creates an image that looks like a botanical illustration. Adding a texture to a photo is can be used for an impressionistic and/or painterly effect.

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “The two primary techniques that I use to turn straightforward photos into art are to add a photo to a background, and to add a texture to photos. These two techniques have a very visual different impact, and can be particularly effective with my botanical art.”

It’s easy to add a whole set of techniques to your creative use of Photoshop! In this webinar recording, Harold Davis explains how you can use the power of backgrounds and textures in your own work. The Using Backgrounds and Textures with Harold Davis webinar explains:

  • Creative use of backgrounds and textures
  • The difference between a background and a texture
  • Making your own backgrounds
  • Making your own textures
  • Commercial libraries
  • How to apply an image to a background
  • Using textures and blending modes
  • Backgrounds and textures in botannicals
  • Using textures with people photography
  • Enhancing landscape photos with artistic effects
  • What to do, what not to do, and examples

Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

 

Selective Sharpening in LAB Color with Harold Davis

Selective Sharpening

Second Session: Sunday June 8, 2014 at 3PM PT. Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Have you ever over-sharpened an image? (We all have!) Have you ever wanted to to sharpen just one thing in a photo, not the entire image?

If you answer “Yes!” to either of these questions, then this webinar recording is for you!

The internal structure of LAB color makes it ideal for attractive sharpening (without over-sharpening) in Photoshop. This is because you can work on the luminance information, avoiding the unattractive results that can happen when color data is sharpened.

This webinar recording shows how to use the properties of LAB color to selectively sharpen images for aesthetic effect, and teaches you a technique that should be in the toolkit of every photographer who uses Photoshop.

Master photographer and bestselling author Harold Davis says, “I use selective sharpening with LAB color to enhance almost all of my photos.” Sharpening with LAB is one of the true secrets of the masters.

The Selective Sharpening with LAB Color with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Different kinds of sharpening
  • Using selective sharpening for artistic emphasis
  • LAB color theory and relative gamut
  • Understanding the color opponent model
  • Converting to LAB in Photoshop
  • Choosing the L-channel in Photoshop
  • Using the Unsharp Mask Filter
  • Selectively painting in sharp areas
  • Converting back to RGB

Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

 

Creative Use of LAB Color with Harold Davis

01-title-LABWorld Premier: Saturday July 26, 2014 at 3PM PT. Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Understanding the creative use of LAB color in Photoshop unlocks a vast treasure trove of under-utilized and under-explored possibilities.

This webinar explains the structure of LAB color, and demonstrates inversions and LAB equalizations for both image optimization and creative fun. You will learn how to combine Blending Modes with LAB equalizations for an unlimited and powerful palette.

 

LAB color underlies the color math of Photoshop, and once you discover how to work creatively with LAB your work (and life!) will never be the same!

The Creative Use of LAB Color with Harold Davis webinar covers:

  • Understanding LAB Color
  • LAB Color in Photoshop
  • LAB Channel Inversions
  • LAB Channel Equalizations
  • Combining adjustments with blending modes
  • Creative LAB in a workflow
  • Examples and case studies

Click here to register for this webinar session ($29.95).

Painting in Transparency Webinar Recording Available

Click here for unlimited access to the Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar Recording (the cost is $19.95).

01-titleAre you intrigued by transparent flower photos? Ever wanted to know how to make them? Well, here’s your chance!

With photography on a light box, once you photograph a bracketed high-key exposure sequence, then the the next step is to assemble a layer stack. As you build your layer stack, successively darker layers are masked and painted in to create the illusion of transparency. The results surprise and delight!

Digital artist and master photographer Harold Davis states, “My transparent botanical art has been greatly acclaimed and emulated. Flowers can create the most beautiful compositions. Photographers who are interested in photographing flowers should give this technique a try. Certainly, one of the most sensitive parts of the process is painting in the high-key layer stack.”

Learn this exciting technique from its creator!  This webinar is chock full of inspirational examples and have ample time for Q & A

The Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack Webinar with Harold Davis covers:

  • Photographing a bracketed high-key sequence on a light box
  • Workflow considerations and options
  • Multi-RAW processing layers as needed
  • Creating the layer stack in Photoshop
  • Adding a layer mask
  • Using the Brush Tool
  • Using the Gradient Tool
  • Next steps after the layer stack has been created

Click here to register for unlimited access to the webinar recording today for only $19.95.

Note: Now that we have solved the gremlins that plagued the video in our early webinars, we are opening second sessions of the early courses. If you register for each live sessions ($29.95) you also get access to the associated recording, which otherwise will be available after the session for $19.95.

Register by clicking here for Using Backgrounds and Textures—Second Session with Harold Davis (Thursday June 5 at 7PM PT).

Register by clicking here for Selective Sharpening with LAB Color—Second Session with Harold Davis (Sunday June 8 at 3PM PT).

Also posted in Photography