Search Results for: Papaver

Carpe Papaver

With the poppies (Papavers) blooming like crazy in our garden, I am sure the right thing to do is to “carpe Papaver.” In fact, photographically speaking—and perhaps in life as well—it is most often a good idea to take the opportunities one is offered and embrace them with both arms. 

Hence these three poppy bouquets, and a new close-up of the core of the poppy (at the end of this story). I say these close images of the center of the poppy are like marine creatures in appearance!

Bouquet of Poppies from the Garden © Harold Davis

Papavers in a vase © Harold Davis

Glorious © Harold Davis


Papaver hybridium ‘Danebrog’ © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver Triptych

The Nearly Perfect Poppy close-up is the center panel of the Triptych. Click here or on the image to view it larger.

Papaver Triptych © Harold Davis

Papaver Triptych © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver Rhoeas Medley

It was fun to spend a slow weekend morning with the family at home. Everyone was engaged, no one was bored or whining or hungry. I photographed flowers from our garden: Poppies, delphiniums, and roses. The idea was to make a great color explosion. The music to photograph by was Pink Floyd and Bizet’s Carmen. The central flowers are Papaver rhoeas ‘Falling in Love’.

Papaver Rhoeas Medley © Harold Davis

Papaver rhoeas Medley © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver Poppy Pods Gone to Seed

When Papavers go to seed, they produce pods that hold the seeds. You can scrape out the pod to harvest the seeds. When one puts a  clump of these seeds into a mortar and pestle and grinds them into a paste then one is well on the way to refining opium. Of course, to be clear, you have to start with a Papaver somniferum rather than some other Papaver variety to get opium. Who me? Lest anyone is curious, mine are purely decorative, and I have absolutely no interest in growing my own opium patch in my garden. I swear…

Papaver Pod from above © Harold Davis

I think the Papaver gone to seed looks almost like a marine sea creature, perhaps more like a sand dollar than a flower!

Papaver Seed Stalks © Harold Davis

I photographed the specimens shown here on a black velvet background, and processed the images in Photoshop using my digital Karl Blossfeldt effect.

Papaver Seed Pod © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Monochrome

Papaver Rhoeas

What joy to come home to my family and garden in Berkeley, and find spring still in bloom! These are two Papaver rhoeas—corn poppies—from our garden. I photographed each on a light box, and then inverted them in LAB color. You can find some info on these techniques in my website FAQs, and there will be a great deal more in the new book that I am working on!

Papaver Rhoeas 1 Inversion © Harold Davis

Papaver Rhoeas 1 © Harold Davis

Papaver Rhoeas 2 © Harold Davis

Papaver Rhoeas 2 Inversion © Harold Davis

The variation between specimens from the same flower cluster is pretty amazing: each flower is different, just as every person differs from each other, even when there are close genetic similarities!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

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

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver Somniferum and friends

Returning home from travels abroad in mid-May, one great pleasure was to find poppies still in bloom in my garden. The large one as big as a platter towards the top of the composition is a Papaver somniferum, the notorious opium poppy. Other species shown are Papaver rhoeas (corn poppies), garlanded with campanula. You can also see poppies in the process of popping (on the right, coming out of its pod).

Papaver Somniferum and Friends © Harold Davis

Papaver Somniferum and Friends © Harold Davis

Exposure data: Nikon D800, Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4, eight exposures shot on a light box, each exposure at f/11 and ISO 100, shutter speeds ranging from 1/40 of a second to 4 seconds, tripod mounted; exposures combined via layering and hand masking in Photoshop.

Making the Botanical Photo: If you are in the San Francisco area, I am presenting on this subject on Saturday June 7, 2014 at Photo Oakland. This is in conjunction with a “Best of Botanicals” exhibition, with print sales partially benefiting San Francisco Botanical Garden. My presentation at 3 PM is free of charge, but I do expect a crowd, so plan to arrive early. Click here for more info.

Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Due to many requests, I’ve just opened a new session of my weekend Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop, scheduled for Saturday, October 4 and Sunday, October 5, 2014. The Papaver image that accompanies this post shows an example of utilizing this technique, and is the kind of image that is created in the workshop. This is a fun and popular event. Previous sessions have been attended by photographers from all over the world, and sold out quickly. Click here for more information and registration.

Posted in Flowers

Papaver Solo

I’ve been spending time in my garden this week, getting it ready for spring. Actually, around here it is spring already, with sunny weather in the sixties. My poppy seedlings are growing briskly, reminding me happily that soon it will be time to photograph Papavers once again—like the backlit flower below (two different washi paper scans were added as a decorative background).

Papaver Solo by Harold Davis

Papaver Solo © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Japonica: Papaver Dreams

Papaver Dreams © Harold Davis

Papaver Dreams © Harold Davis

All art is referential to other art. Even post-modernist art—which makes a point of studiously appearing to avoid artistic antecedents—is in fact playing off the very traditions it thumbs its nose at, in much the way a wayward teenager incorporates parental values in the act of rebellion. As artists, like it or not, we are playing in a visual sandbox that extends backwards in time to the cave paintings in Lascaux (and even earlier into the unknown mists of pre-history).

As a practicing artist, one wants to tread the middle road. If you are ignorant, wilfully or otherwise, of the rich artistic traditions we’ve inherited, your work will be poorer for it. On the other hand, too much focus on the place of any individual art or artist in the greater scheme of visual art leads to rigid work that has been sapped of vitality, or is cloying in its use of historical references.

The great French impressionist painters were able to walk this path by choosing to step outside the dominant and stultifying academic traditions. At the same time, they eagerly embraced visual sources from traditions new to their culture—such as Japanese art.

Recently, I have been creating modified digital photos that are homage to this adaption of “Japonica”. My tools are backgrounds, border, compositional choices, digital paintbrushes—and even a signature in ersatz Kanji.

Related story: Making a Floral HDR Panorama.

Posted in Bemusements, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Papaver Somniferum and Papaver Dubium

Papaver somniferum and Papaver dubium

At Blake Garden they very graciously cut some poppies for me. I brought them back to my studio and photographed them on my light box, with the results you see here!

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver and Campanula

Papaver and Campanula

For a special project, I started with a high-key photo of poppies and bellflowers (Papaver and Campanula). I created the background by scanning and digitally combining two pieces of papyrus and a sheet of rice paper (Ohiri).

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver and Iridaceae

Papaver and Iridaceae

The Papaver Rhoeas in my garden called out for some complimentary colors, so I added some store-bought Iris. I photographed the combined composition straight down on my light box, using a macro lens from a distance and eight exposures.

As usual with this kind of image, the exposures were biased to the high-key side, with the sequence starting at the darkest image (the correct exposure, according to my light meter).

I needed some depth-of-field because the Irises had some depth, but not a great deal, so I selected f/11 for my aperture. At ISO 100, the exposure sequence went from 1/30 of a second to 4 seconds.

Recombining these exposures was an issue of using layering and painting techniques in Photoshop. I started with my lightest layer, the one shot at 4 seconds, and where there was not enough detail I layered a darker exposure on top of it, painting it in very selectively.

Posted in Flowers, Iris, Photography

Papaver and Campanula

Papaver and Campanula

Papaver and Campanula, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is an image of Papaver Rhoeas and Campanula—or, to use common names, Poppy and Bellflower—both kinds of flowers from my garden.

I place the flowers on a flourescent light box to create a back lit effect and photographed straight down. There’s very little light coming from the front of these flowers. To increase the transparent effect, I sprayed them with water, brushed the water around for even coverage, and pressed the ensemble gently down with a large piece of 1/2 inch plate glass. I removed the glass before taking the photos used to create this composite image.

My technique with this kind of transparent, high-key image is to bracket exposures, all of them biased to the over-exposed side. In this case, I used my Sigma 50mm macro lens. I set the aperture to f/11 and the ISO to 100. Then I made ten exposures, ranging in shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 1/50 of a second.

I started by processing the lightest and brightest exposure (the 2 second one) in Photoshop. Then I gradually layered in detail from the darker versions, using layers and the Paint Brush Tool in Photoshop.

The resulting composite produced the effect I was looking for: the transulence and brightness of a water color with light apparently shining through the partially transparent flowers.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Papaver Rhoeas Portrait

Papaver Rhoeas Portrait

Papaver Rhoeas Portrait, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

I’ve been photographing people lately—and writing, thinking, eating and breathing portraits, people photography, and lighting people for my new upcoming book Creative Portraits: Digital Tips & Techniques. So perhaps it’s not surprising that this poppy portrait looks a little like a headshot. A headshot, that is, of a one-eyed floral cyclops.

To make this image I took advantage of the strong, California late afternoon sunlight coming in through my western window. I suspended some translucent tracing paper between two stands, and used the sunlight projected onto the paper as my back light source for the flower. I shot a number of exposures, with the plan of manually combining these different versions in Photoshop. Each exposure biased to the high key, overexposed side.

Exposure data: 200mm macro, six exposures combined in Photoshop at shutter speeds from 1/13 of a second to 3/5 of a second, each exposure at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography

Papaver Drops

Papaver Drops

Papaver Drops, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

In the garden, water drops hang from a poppy bud, swinging at the end of its stem. Reflected in the drops, the flowers themselves are upright. You can see the poppies in the drops on the stem itself, as well.


View this image larger.

Both photos are tripod mounted. I used my 200mm f/4 macro lens, 36mm extension tube, and a +4 close-up filter.

In other words, these are very, very close, and magnified several times life size.

I stopped down for maximum depth-of-field at f/32. Using a setting of ISO 200, I exposed the top image at 1/60 of second and the bottom at 1/80 of second. While I was exposing for the bright water drops and not the darker background, I still intentionally underexposed so I could get a faster shutter speed, and so the bright areas wouldn’t “blow out.”

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops