Category Archives: Abstractions

Cymbidium Orchid and Sidewalk

The Cymbidium Orchid image is a reprocess of a 2016 light box image, with a background texture added at the behest of a client. The Cymbidium grows outdoors in our garden (as a transplanted Easterner these many years, this still strikes me as notable!).

The Sidewalk image was photographed straight down using my iPhone 12 in Akureyri, the second largest “city” in Iceland, with a population of about 12,000.

Both are examples of images that in my opinion would not work without color (discussed in More about seeing in Black & White).

Cymbidium Orchid © Harold Davis

Sidewalk © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Patterns, Photography

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?

Also posted in Flowers

The Beet Goes On

In parts of the Caribbean, edible root vegetables are often called “ground provisions.” Yesterday was a ground-provisions day.

I primarily photographed beets and radishes. This is a continuation of my light box sliced vegetable and fruit work, some of which is shown in Sliced Fruit on My Light Box, Making Mandalas from Fruits and Vegetables, and Melange of Slices.

I’ve titled the image shown below of sliced Chioggia Beets (Beta vulgaris) “The Beet Goes On”, after the Sonny and Cher song, with a homophonic relationship between the second word in the name of the song and the ground provision I photographed  (e.g., “Beat” and “Beet”).

The Beet Goes On © Harold Davis

The Beet Goes On © Harold Davis

Check out the new interview with me about garden photography on the PhotoActive Podcast: Episode 75: Creative Garden Photography with Harold Davis!

Also posted in Fruits and Veggis on Light Box, Patterns, Photography

Melange of Slices

Just like the aggregation of pear slices, it is possible to create interesting melanges of all kinds of sliced fruits and vegetables. The sliced kiwi fruits (below) remind me of paper lanterns. Perhaps the seeds running vertically are the writing on the lanterns, in some kind of Kanji characters. The red onions (bottom) are certainly more pleasant to look at in their painterly and patterned abstraction than they were to slice!

Kiwi Fruit Slices © Harold Davis

Kiwi Fruit Slices © Harold Davis

Red Onion Slices © Harold Davis

Red Onion Slices © Harold Davis

Also posted in Fruits and Veggis on Light Box, Patterns, Photography

Food ink blot

I made this image using milk, water, olive oil, vinegar, and food colors, and then photographed the result.

Food Ink Blot 1 © Harold Davis

Food Ink Blot 1 © Harold Davis

Sunflower Mandala

The Peruvian lily (botanically alstroemeria), or “Lily of the Incas,” was once limited to two small ranges in South America, one blooming in the winter (Chile), and one in the summer (Brazil). Hybridization across the winter and summer species, starting in the 1980s in Holland, led to today’s flower that is a staple of the modern commercial flower industry—and is green and growing most of the year in our garden. The genus alstroemeria was named after the Swedish baron Clas Alströmer, a close friend of Linnaeus, he of the classifications.

Sunflower Mandala (Black) © Harold Davis

Petals from the alstroemeria are wonderfully translucent, colorful, and a great palette for my light box compositions when the blossoms are dissected. As a last light box hurrah before my month-long upcoming trip, I pulled a collection of alstroemeria petals apart, and arranged them around a sunflower. Katie, wandering through the living room, took a look at the proceedings—and indicated her disapproval of the deconstruction of a “living thing,” the Peruvian lily flowers.

Sunflower Mandala (White) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Criss Cross not Applesauce

Criss-Cross © Harold Davis


Storm at Sea © Harold Davis

Soft Horizon © Harold Davis

Descent © Harold Davis


Quartet (click here to see it larger) is one photo duplicated three times. The duplicates have been rotated 90 degrees, and in two cases flipped along an axis as well. As you can imagine, with a 45 megapixel capture from my Nikon D850 times the four versions, the final resolution is very substantial, so it would be fun to print at room size.

This is the kind of composition I might have made as a painter, and it is fun to do it using photography and post-production as well!

Quartet © Harold Davis

Blue on Red

Blue on Red © Harold Davis

Related image: Homage to Rothko.

Homage to Rothko

Homage to Rothko © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Curves Ahead

Starting with sunlight coming through vessels with color, I pared down my abstractions. But lately we have been under a river of rain. Sunlight is scarce. But it doesn’t take much to create an image. Just a camera, really. Simplicity is best. There are curves ahead.

Curve #1 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Approaching Indigo

Approaching Indigo © Harold Davis

The early use of “indigo” referred to indigo dye made from Indigofera tinctoria and related species, and not specifically to a color. In the 1660s, Isaac Newton bought a pair of prisms at a fair near Cambridge, England. Around this time, the East India Company had begun importing indigo dye, replacing native woad as the primary source of blue dye. By the way, the actual color produced using indigo dye is probably somewhat different from the color referred to as “indigo” by optical scientists.

In an important experiment in the history of optics, Newton shone a narrow beam of sunlight through one of his prisms to produce a rainbow-like band of colors on the wall. This optical band had a spectrum of colors, and Newton named seven as primary colors: “Red, yellow, Green, Blew, & a violet purple; together with Orang, Indico, & an indefinite varietie of intermediate gradations.”

Interestingly, Newton linked the seven prismatic colors to the seven notes of a western major scale, with orange and indigo as semitones. What happens if you play colors like a musical scale?

In modern usage, indigo is a deep and rich color close to the primary color Blue in the RGB color space, a color somewhere between blue and violet. Many people have difficulty distinguishing indigo from its neighbors. According to sci-fi writer and science pundit Isaac Asimov, “It is customary to list indigo as a color lying between blue and violet, but it has never seemed to me that indigo is worth the dignity of being considered a separate color. To my eyes it seems merely deep blue.”

Asimov was wrong, but the color indigo needs to be approached with care. If you confront indigo directly, you may not see it, but in fact indigo takes its rightful and royal place on the visual spectrum when seen somewhere between blue and violet,

To construct this image, I used vases filled with colored water. To generate the colors, I used food dyes representing the primary colors, and passed bright sunlight from a West-facing window beamed through the colored water in combination—thus echoing Isaac Newton’s original, famous experiment with prisms and sunlight.

Also posted in Photography

Playing with Light

For the past few days of the break between Christmas and New Years, I have been playing with light. Of course, the word photography is derived from “writing with light”—and you cannot capture the physicality of an object, only the light reflected or emitted by the object. So, from the very beginning, light and photography are intimately related. But this series more literally captures—and plays with—light than most photography. Let me explain.

In the depth of winter, the winter sun traces an arc across a large, westward-facing window towards the front of our house. The arc is low in the horizon, and short, from about 10AM to about 3PM. The quality of the sunlight is fierce: bright and strong, but at the same time with a kind of innate gentleness. It is light as light should be light.

With a white-surfaced table, I use the sunlight to “paint” images by projecting the light through vessels with colored water of various kinds and shapes (some of these carafes are clearly shown in Transmutation, the third image below), and carefully arranging the light to create my compositions. This is work done in camera, with only very minor corrections and adjustments in post-production.

World of Wonders © Harold Davis

They Walk Among Us © Harold Davis

Transmutation © Harold Davis

Related stories: Cosmic MisunderstandingThe Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions; Easy Travel to Other Planets; Life is Strange. Check out my new online Gallery of Abstracts.

Also posted in Photography

Life Is Strange—Further Abstractions and some Abstract Thoughts

Life is strange. We take inspiration, and the other self-actualization needs and desires that are high up the Maslow hierarchy, where we can find them. From within the prison of the ego, the globe of the world matters little—belonging and cathexis matter, even if only for a single night. Fire and ice, kindness and depravity, battle for the crystal palace of my soul.

Abstraction 12 – Life is strange © Harold Davis

Abstract 11 – Dome of the World © Harold Davis

Abstract 10 – Be Mine Tonight © Harold Davis

Abstract 9 – Fire and Ice © Harold Davis

Abstract 8 – Crystal Palace © Harold Davis

Related stories: The Making of the Abstractions; Abstracts and a Photographic Mystery; More Abstractions; Easy Travel to Other Planets.

Also posted in Photography