Author Archives: Harold Davis

Inside Lisianthus

At the florist, it typically goes by the name Lisianthus. It’s also commonly known as the Prairie gentian, reflecting the grasslands where this flower is usually found (when not at a florist!). The modern botanical name is Eustoma, from the ancient Greek words for “pleasing mouth.”

Inside Lisianthus © Harold Davis

By whatever name, the deep blossom shape called out to my macro-probe lens, one of a series of images I have photographed inside flower blossoms including those shown in Hollyhock ‘Halo Candy’, Falling in Love, Inside Digitalis, Flowers or Sea Creatures, and more.

With these photographs, the macro wide-angle lens on a stalk goes with the blossom. I use the builtin ring light to see to focus, then use a relatively long exposure (usually about thirty seconds) to capture the details inside the flower.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Wishing you joy, creativity, and light in 2022!

For us, as for the world, 2021 has been an “interesting” year. Some professional highlights include:

You can click here to view my self-selected best images of 2021 (I have self-selected best images as an exercise in editing since 2013!).

Looking forward, we are hoping that the coming new year may be less “interesting” as events unfold. 

If all goes according to plan, we have photo tours scheduled in April for the southwest of France, and in October for off-the-beaten track Japan. It’s also our hope to present the postponed Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop in August here in Berkeley.

May 2022 be a year of healing, with the blessings of family and community. We are all in this together. Wishing you joy, creativity, and light in 2022!

Posted in 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

Solstice Greetings 2021

This shortest day of the year brings me thoughts of renewal. As the days grow longer, and light returns, I am hoping that we all find comfort, creativity, and a harmonious way forward.

Sagrada Familia © Harold Davis

I made this photograph of Antonin Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Catalonia in 2014. You can check out the original blog story here, with more about the architecture of the Sagrada Familia in Antoni Gaudi and the shell game.

Posted in Photography

Petals on a Plate

I have got a great deal of mileage over the years from Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily) petals. These petals are shown in this photo on a decorative glass plate on my light box. Compared to other flower petals, they seem to work particularly well with light coming through them, backlit on a light box. This is due to the translucency of the alstroemeria petal, their variability in color, and variegated patterns and markings.

Petals on a Plate © Harold Davis

It’s hard to know where to begin with my images that use these flower petals, but a few that I like are Floral Composition, Alstroemeria Medley, Petals on Parade, New Year’s Dragon, Spiral of Flower Karma, It Starts with a Petal and Ends with a Twist of Fate, Floral Tondo, and Flowers on Ebony and Ivory. Selected images from these blog stories are shown below.

Floral Composition © Harold Davis

Alstroemeria Medley © Harold Davis

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

New Year’s Dragon on Black © Harold Davis

Spiral of Flower Karma © Harold Davis

Spiral of Flower Karma © Harold Davis

A Simple Twist of Fate 4 © Harold Davis

Floral Tondo 1 © Harold Davis

Will You Won’t You Join the Dance © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Room in France Tour; Japan Filling Fast

We have room in Romantic Southwest France (April 27 – May 5, 2022). Click here for info, here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form.

Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Journey (October 16-26, 2022) is filling quickly, but there is still some space. Click here for info, here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation Form.

Please also keep in mind our in-person Photographing Flowers for Transparency weekend workshop, August 6-7, 2022 in Berkeley, California. Click here for more info.

Please call or write with any questions!

Posted in Workshops

Composition & Photography Index

I believe that you can tell a great deal about a book by reading its index. A good index should allow the reader to quickly find what they want to find in a book. To create such an index means understanding both the contents of the book, and also how readers will be using the book.

Click here for the index we’ve created for my new book, Composition & Photography. This index is preliminary, and is subject to revision.

With the index to Composition & Photography we have tried to be genuinely useful to the reader. However, according to a professional indexer who is a character in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Cat’s Cradle, one should never index one’s own book: “It’s a revealing thing, an author’s index of his own work…It’s a shameless exhibition—to the trained eye.”

Posted in Writing

Announcing Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Journey with Harold Davis

Misty Mountains © Harold Davis

What: Step into the fabled Japan of myth and legend. Journey back in time to a Japan that few westerners are familiar with. Join a small group of compatible photographers led by Harold Davis and a professional guide for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

When: Sunday, October 16, 2022 to Wednesday, October 26, 2022 (ten nights and eleven days).

Where: We meet at our hotel in Tokyo, Japan. After exploring the new and old sides of Tokyo, we’ll travel back in time through the Japanese Alps via the ancient Nakasendo way. We’ll visit well-preserved villages in the Kiso Valley, Matsumoto Castle, the castle town of Takayama, and the World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go. Following a stop in the culturally important city of Kanazawa, we will wrap up the destination photo workshop with a dreamlike visit to the gardens and temples of Kyoto, where the tour will end.

Click here for the full description (with details, pricing, and how to register), here for the detailed day-by-day trip itinerary (“Prospectus”) and here for the Reservation Form. Our in-country partner is Oku Japan.

Posted in Workshops

White Peony

I photographed this white peony the other day on my light box. Most flowers reveal a highly organized inner core; this bashful peony exemplifies more private mysteries. The result, white on white, is unlike the more typical flower mandala, and more resembles something logographic, such as a heiroglyph or kanji character.

White Peony © Harold Davis

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Journey with Harold Davis

We are being optimistically obdurate in the face of Omicron, and planning to open Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Journey with Harold Davis for registration soon. This destination travel workshop is tentatively scheduled for October 16-26, 2022. Click here for more information.

Temple Flags © Harold Davis

Temple Flags © Harold Davis

Posted in Workshops

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

Sharing My Techniques for Photography on Black—Webinar on Saturday 11/20/21—There Are No Secrets

I’ll be sharing my techniques for Photography on Black in a live Zoom webinar on Saturday November 20, 2021 at 11am PT. The webinar will include real-time demonstrations of photography and post-production in Photoshop. There are no secrets! I’ve explained my techniques in my books; you can attend this webinar to see me actually do the work, with plenty of time for Q&A.

Click here for more info, and here to register on Zoom!

Papaver hybridium ‘Naughty Nineties’ © Harold Davis

Posted in Photography, Workshops

Two of my images are 2022 USPS releases

I am pleased and honored that two of my images are part of the 2022 United States Postal Service new releases. Click here for the official press release.

Tulip Pano © Harold Davis

The Tulips Forever stamp features a luminous, almost ethereal assortment of overlapping tulips in red, orange, yellow, purple and white against a bright white background. Similar in design to the 2-ounce Sunflower Bouquet stamp, this stamp can be used on RSVP envelopes often enclosed with wedding invitations. In addition to regular correspondence, it is also perfect for party invitations, thank-you notes and important announcements. This stamp was designed by art director Ethel Kessler, with digital photography by Harold Davis.

Sunflower Bouquet © Harold Davis

Sunflower Bouquet
The Sunflower Bouquet 2-ounce stamp features an array of sunflowers, irises and other small flowers priced to accommodate the weight of heavy invitations, oversize greeting cards and other mailings that require extra postage. The Sunflower Bouquet stamp is similar in design to the new Tulips Forever stamp, and the two form a natural pair. The stamp was designed by art director Ethel Kessler, with digital photography by Harold Davis.

Click here for the official press release.

Posted in Photography

Romantic Southwest France Workshop—Limited Space Availability

Click here for more info, here for the detailed itinerary, and here for the Reservation form.

We have limited space availability. Please contact us right away if you are interested. An early-bird discount applies through November 10, 2021!

Posted in Workshops


When one is lost in a funhouse, as a photographer, the first question is, can one lose one’s reflection. Days subsequent, one looks for a way out.

I made this photograph from within the House of Mirrors on Petrin Hill, in Prague in the Czech Republic in 2015. It strikes me now as a fairly appropriate image for Halloween.

Hall of Mirrors, Prague © Harold Davis

Posted in Czech, Monochrome