Search Results for: inversion

Dandelion Inversion

A simple Dandelion contains a world, in a sense a fractal world, as each node in the outer Dandelion world reveals its own world within if you get close enough. This Dandelion Inversion is a Photoshop LAB color L-channel inversion of the Dandelion shown here.

For a closer view of some of the Dandelion nodes (and some Rolling Stones lyrics as captions) click here!

Dandelion Inversion © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

Flowers on Black versus an Inversion

Orchids on Black © Harold Davis

Orchids on Black © Harold Davis

The image above, Orchids on Black, was created by photographing the flowers on a black background, with a bit of enhancement in LAB color. Flower Magic on Black, shown below, was photographed on a light box. The background of the image was converted from white to black using an LAB inversion of the L-channel.

Click here for my complete Creative LAB Color in Photoshop course, here for the FAQs on my website, and here for info about the 2020 session of the Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.

Special thanks to Jack and Ellen Anon.

Flower Magic on Black © Harold Davis

Flower Magic on Black © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

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

Posted in Flowers, Photography

LAB Inversions

I am often asked about my technique for obtaining creative effects using LAB color adjustments in Photoshop. While the theory behind this set of techniques is a bit complicated, there’s nothing complex in practice about using LAB color adjustments creatively. I’ve written about these techniques both in The Photoshop Darkroom and also in The Way of the Digital Photographer.

To make your life easier if you want to experiment with creative LAB, I’ve also written a Photoshop action that you can download for free using this link (check out the included readme file for installation instructions). This action essentially presents the possible LAB channel adjustments as a palette of possibilites for you to choose from when making your creative choices, and I’ve used my own action—Photoshop’s word for a macro—to create the different creative versions of the images shown here.

For example, with the cone flower (Echinacea) shown here, last year I 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

The miracle of LAB channel inversions and adjustments leads straight to the alternative, colorful versions you see below:

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

I plan to print these images as a quadtych, with the four images arranged in a sequence, pairing the original version on white with the Inversion on White, and the two black versions together.

Echinacia Inversion © Harold Davis

Echinacia Inversion © Harold Davis

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography

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

Posted in Photograms, Photoshop Techniques

Monochromatic Inversion

An inversion, in noun form, is a reversal. In verb form, applying an inversion is inverting, or even “to invert.” In Photoshop, you can invert an entire image, or a single channel.

Inverting means reversing the color values that the adjustment is applied to. The effect this has depends upon the working color space, and tends to have the most dramatic and useful results in the LAB color space where the channels are based upon a color-opponent model.

The implications of a applying a Photoshop inversion adjustment are perhaps seen most easily in a monochromatic image. Notionally, all the information in the image is either black or white—all though this isn’t really the case, as I’ll get to in a moment. Therefore, when I invert the image black becomes white, and white becomes black.

For example, take this Dandelion etched in white on a black background:

Dandelion Superior

Applying a monochromatic inversion gives me a Dandelion in grey tones on a white background:

Dandelion 3

Stepping back for a second, in modern digital practice monochrome—black and white—seldom really means dropping all the color information. (In a brief message from the sponsors of this blog, check out my book Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques for a more thorough treatment of this issue.)

So if black isn’t black and white isn’t white, how can you expect to get the clarity of results shown in the Dandelion example? The simple answer is to convert the image to LAB, and only invert the Lightness (L) channel. This applies the adjustment only to monochromatic information and completely ignores color values. If you like what you get, consider dropping the other channels entirely!

Don’t forget to convert back to RGB or CMYK when you are done. LAB is a theoretical model, meaning it can’t be output in the real world.

Interested in digital black and white? Then my October 14-16, 2011 workshop at the Center for Photographic Art in Carmel, California may be for you. Here’s more information about the workshop, and a registration link.

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Monochrome, Photoshop Techniques

Inversion of Hellebores

Hellebore on White

Hellebore on White, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

The image above was the first version of this photo. I used a flourescent light table as my illumination source, and overexposed for transparency. I combined three different exposures, each with a different shutter speed but the same aperture, to get the effect I wanted (see exposure details below).

Lately, I’ve become interested in photographing flowers either on a white background (because backlit transparency of flower petals is beautiful) or on a black background (because the high contrast with the flower makes color values pop). When I can, I’ve created both white and black versions. Sometimes photographically, but more often using Photoshop inversions, as with the hellebore inversion of the original image below:

Hellebore on Black 2

View this image larger.

[Both images: Nikon D300, Sigma 50mm f/2.8 macro lens (75mm in 35mm terms), three exposures (3 seconds, 5 seconds, and 8 seconds), all at f/32 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Some other black and white flower pairs: Faerie Bouquet and Faerie Rose on Black; Anemone Japonica and Anemone on Black; Dawn Chorus Poppy on White and Black.

Posted in Flowers, Photograms, Photography

Household Magic

When you look at everyday, household objects with fresh eyes, it is possible to see their magic. For example, someone told me the image below (Jaws Inversion) looks like a leg-hold trap. Actually, in non-magical life this is my daughter’s hair clip with the spring clip tied open. 

Jaws Inversion © Harold Davis

In this case, the non-living object has been imbued with a spirit, although possibly one that borders on the black hat rather than the white. The kitchen mixing bowls in the two images below are much more neutral.

Mixing Bowls © Harold Davis

Nesting Bowls and a Nautilus Slice © Harold Davis

Nesting Bowls and a Nautilus Slice © Harold Davis

Sometimes a shadow adds depth and purpose to the ordinary object, as in the Egg Yolk Separator shown below and Egg Slicer.

Egg Yolk Separator © Harold Davis

Egg Slicer © Harold Davis

Finally, domestic subjects can reverse the process of objectification. This approaches anthropomorphization: In Alter Ego, below, a squash becomes a dinosaur with a mystery about its shadow.

Alter Ego © Harold Davis

Related stories: Nesting Bowls and a Nautilus Slice; Egg Yolk Separator; Egg Slicer; and Alter Ego.

Posted in Photography

Dahlia Daze

As summer becomes full and the days of July rush by, the dahlias are in bloom. Each dalia is different, a unique world unto itself. Some of them remind me of deep sea creatures, strangely beached into the garden.

Do Flowers Come from the Sea? © Harold Davis

For me, the question with dahlias in their infinite variety and explosion of color is where to begin—and how can I ever stop photographing them?

Dahlia Daze © Harold Davis

Dahlias in a Tray © Harold Davis

Inversion: Do Flowers Come from the Sea? © Harold Davis

It seems there are many ways to create art with dahlias, starting with a photo (click here for a keyword search on my website). However you count the ways, I love them one and all! Dahlias have zest, and they give me zest for living.

Posted in Flowers, Photography


Artichokes are good to eat. They are a real treat. You peel the leaves to the “meat” inside, in a spiral motion that echoes the visual path in this great, big edible flower as shown from above. 

The artichoke is shown here photographed straight down on a velvet background with some side lighting to bring out the spiral pattern. I bracketed exposures, and started layering using hand-HDR with the darkest exposure. The resulting low-key layer stack approaches life from the opposite direction than my more typical high-key layer stack. Poppy Dancer is another example of this technique, with some explanatory and tutorial links at the end of the Poppy Dancer story.

Artichoke on Black © Harold Davis

The lens I used for this image was my Nikkor tilt-shift macro (to even out the plane of focus) at an effective aperture of f/64. 

An inversion of the artichoke image is shown below, created in LAB color in Photoshop by applying an Invert adjustment to the L-channel.

Artichoke Inversion © Harold Davis

Click here for another kind of image of a thistle flower—a very close relative to the artichoke.

Posted in Monochrome, Photography

Harold Davis—Best of 2021

2021—a year that has truly lived up to “May you live in interesting times”! My “Best Of” selections for prior years, going back to 2013, can be found here. Onward and upward through the fog!

California Live Oak © Harold Davis

Corn Poppy © Harold Davis

Bouquet of Poppies from the Garden © Harold Davis

The Right to Assemble © Harold Davis

The Way Things Were © Harold Davis

Blowing in the Wind © Harold Davis

Papaver Pods © Harold Davis

A Hint of Color, Oxarafoss © Harold Davis

Haifoss Variation 4 © Harold Davis

Godafoss © Harold Davis

Lotus Flower © Harold Davis

Love is a Many Splendored Thing © Harold Davis

Dandelion Inversion © Harold Davis

Climbing Broccoli Mountain © Harold Davis

Autumn Roses © Harold Davis

Divertimento 1 © Harold Davis

Glass Shield © Harold Davis

White Peony © Harold Davis

Most images available as prints. Please inquire.

Check out my self-selected bests from previous years in Best Images Annuals!

Posted in Best Of

Rubin’s Vase Optical Illusion with Harold’s Profile

Vase or Profile Inversion © Harold Davis

Rubin’s Vase is a well-known optical illusion developed by Danish psychologist Edgar Rubin whose primary research field was figure-ground perception. When you look at the image above, do you see a vase, or a profile that is mirrored? As it happens, the profile is mine!

I was reminded of the Rubin’s Vase phenomenon when I was researching the “Positive and Negative Space” chapter in my forthcoming book Composition & Photography: Working with Photography Using Design Concepts.

To make this image, Phyllis used her iPhone to capture my profile (perhaps I am not at my handsomest in this portrait?!). Portrait with Vase (bottom) shows this profile view, reflected on the vertical axis.

Phyllis emailed my profile to Mitja in Slovenia (via his Etsy store), who used 3-D printing to make a vase that followed the contours of my profile, shown in the center of Portrait with Vase. The vase arrived at our doorstep in a neat international mail package complete with customs declaration.

I photographed the vase with it placed lying down on a light box, to intentionally create a high-contrast image with the camera-facing plane of the vase in deep shadow (see Vase or Profile, immediately below). The L-channel of this image (using LAB color) was inverted to give the Vase or Profile Inversion version shown at the top of this story. Both images were subsequently converted to black and white to make the illusion work better.

Vase or Profile © Harold Davis

Portrait with Vase © Harold Davis

Posted in Abstractions, Bemusements, Photography

I Have Minted Two NFTs

I have “minted” two NFTs—non-fungible tokens. To break this down a little further, to mint an asset such as a digital file means to place it on the blockchain. Placing the asset—the NFT—on the blockchain also generally means in the case of digital art to associate it with ability to buy and sell it using cryptocurrency, most often with digital art, Ethereum. 

Just saying, you can make NFTs out of things that have nothing to do with art. Just saying, a JPEG file minted into an NFT recently sold for $69 Million via the Christie’s Auction House. Just saying, what can you do with this thing besides buying and selling it (you can’t hang it on your wall)?

My first NFT is Petal Pushing, a GIF file. The description reads “This is a hand-created artisinal GIF file forged in Photoshop from a series of LAB L-channel inversion light box petal images by free-range artist and photographer Harold Davis.” The “Buy It Now” price is 0.5 Ethereum (or about $850 at today’s exchange rate). You can check it out here on Rarible, and here on OpenSea.

Petal Pushing © Harold Davis

My second NFT is Harold Davis—Petal Circles.gif, another GIF file. The description reads “This is a hand-created artisinal GIF file forged in Photoshop from a series of  light box petal images by artist and photographer Harold Davis.” The “Buy It Now” price is one Ethereum (or about $1700 at today’s exchange rate). You can check it out here on Rarible, and here on OpenSea.

Harold Davis—Petal-Circles.gif © Harold Davis

They are such a bargain, compared to $69 Million at least. Just saying. And just to be clear, what are you buying? You can’t put it on the wall. You are buying the one minted copy, but it can still be digitally copied and displayed. And, you are not buying my copyright in the image or its components. So, this is literally a trading vehicle—which can be said for some art editions, and some original art, as well!

More thoughtfully, I did have a few minutes back in the 2000 aughts when I was just starting as a digital artist and photographer when I considered whether there really was a reason to make a physical manifestation of an image. Then I fell in love with physical printmaking, making books, and all the old-fashioned stuff. 

Phyllis came over to my work station as I was going through the software gyrations to load up my digital wallet with Ethereum and pay for the “minting.” She said, and I quote, “Just what do you think you are doing?”

She has a point. But I’m going to stick with it a bit, and so far have enjoyed my first venture on the blockchain, with cybercurrency, and with minting NFTs.

Posted in Bemusements, Business of Art

Creative LAB Color Essentials Webinar this Saturday

Hydrangea Relativity © Harold Davis

Hydrangea Relativity © Harold Davis

The Creative LAB Essentials Webinar this Saturday January 30, 2021 at 11am PT will be a great review of LAB Color if you’ve worked in LAB before, and an exciting introduction if this is your very first exposure to this incredibly cool topic.

Following a short presentation, I’ll proceed by demonstration. Topics to be covered include:

  • How LAB color works, and its implementation in Photoshop
  • Colors and channels
  • Inversions: the two images shown accompanying this post are an example of an LAB L-channel inversion
  • Creative sharpening with LAB
  • Downloading, installing, and working with my (free) LAB Photoshop Action

Advanced registration is required. Click here for webinar registration, and here for more information.

Hydrangea Relativity Inversion © Harold Davis

Hydrangea Relativity Inversion © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

Petals on Parade

These two “petal-pushing” images start with a composition of alstroemeria petals, photographed for high-key HDR on a light box. 

Petals on Parade on Black © Harold Davis

Petals on Parade on Black © Harold Davis

The image with a black background (shown above) is an LAB L-channel inversion of the original image on white, shown below.

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

Generally, with light box compositions, the most important issue is the arrangement, a/k/a the composition. By the way, this is a statement that could be made (and has been made) about photography in general.

Arrangement needs structure. One of the most common structures for light box compositions is the Mandala. Another is the bouquet (click here for an example).

Can you identify the visual structure underlying the Petals on Parade images?

Posted in Abstractions, Flowers