Category Archives: Flowers

Mandalas

A mandala is a circular pattern that in spiritual usage—principally in Hinduism and Buddhism—represents the universe. More secularly (but still with a soupçon of spirituality), the pattern of a mandala is circular and symmetrical, with repeating access points into the center of the construct. This geometric pattern can be held up as a metaphoric representation or the cosmos, or as a symbolic version of the macrocosm or universe at large.

Often I do not recognize the pattern of my own work until after a body of work has been well under way. It seems that over a few years I have been creating mandalas on the light box using flower petals, followed by an LAB L-channel inversion adjustment of the white background of the image to black.

Here are three of the many mandalas I have created using this set of techniques in the past few years!

Floral Mandala on Black © Harold Davis

Study in Petals on Black © Harold Davis

Low Geostationary and Decaying Orbits around the Clematis Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Bird of Paradise X-Ray

This is an x-ray photograph of a Strelitzia reginae, commonly known as the Bird of Paradise flower.

Bird of Paradise X-Ray © Harold Davis

More: X-Ray and Fusion X-Ray Gallery; FAQ: X-Ray Photos of Flowers; X-Ray Photography and the Inner Form of Beauty; Revealing the Unseen with X-Ray Photography of Flowers; X-Ray and “Fusion” X-Ray Images of Flowers.

Also posted in X-Ray

X-Ray Photography and the Inner Form of Beauty

The process of making these x-ray images of flowers and shells is more like making a photogram—what Man Ray called a rayograph—than it is like using a conventional camera. The flowers are arranged on top of the capture medium, in this case a digital sensor and then exposed. But the exposure is to x-rays rather then to light in the visible spectrum, as in a photogram, where objects are placed on top of a photosensitive medium (historically, more oftern emulsion-coated paper rather than a digital sensor).

X-Ray, Sunflower © Harold Davis

The x-rays reveal the inner form and shapes rather than the surface manifestation of the object. It is possible to look at the petals of a flower as though they are gauze or veils, and to see the capillaries within a leaf.

Spray Roses X-Ray © Harold Davis

Rather than the surface of a shell, when the x-ray “camera” is pointed at a shell, the inner spirals, shapes, and forms of the structure is revealed. 

Shell Collection X-Ray © Harold Davis

More: Revealing the Unseen with X-Ray Photography of Flowers. Sometimes the seen and the unseen, the surface and the shapes within, come together by combining high-key visible light photography with x-ray captures: X-Ray and “Fusion” X-Ray Images of Flowers.

Also posted in Monochrome, X-Ray

X-Ray and “Fusion” X-Ray Images of Flowers

Here are some (more) x-rays and fusion x-rays of flowers. Fusion x-rays use post-production to combine “straight” x-rays with light box images of the same composition. For background information on how these images were made, see Revealing the Unseen with X-Ray Photography of Flowers.

Gloriosa Lily X-Ray © Harold Davis

By way of comparison, here’s a link to one of my digital photos of a Gloriosa lily, photographed on a mirror, with a little background about the flower.

Lisianthus Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

These two versions of a bouquet of Lisianthus (above and below) are both fusion imagery, with x-rays and conventional light box photography.

Lisianthus on White © Harold Davis

I am pleased that the Dahlia composition (below) does a good job of showing the secrets within the flower, while also capturing the exterior of the flower!

Dahlias Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

The sunflower was the first fusion x-ray I processed. I like it also as a straight x-ray (below).

Sunflower X-Ray © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, X-Ray

Dahlia Fusion X-Rays and Light Box Photos

Dahlia Fusion X-Ray Inversion © Harold Davis

Dahlia Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

This Dahlia was photographed on a light box for transparency, then captured via x-ray photography. The two capture techniques were combined in Photoshop. In the upper version, there is also an L-channel inversion in LAB color.

I worked with my friend Julian Kopke, who is a medical doctor, radiologist, and a physicist to create these images.

This technique is also shown here, and with a Sunflower.

Also posted in X-Ray

Sunflower X-Ray Fusion

This is a fusion of an x-ray and a light box high-key HDR sequence, using a medical x-ray machine and photographed on a light box. My friend Dr Julian Koepke and I collaborated on making some of these images, and we will get to play with flowers, X-rays, and light boxes again tomorrow! 

Sunflower X-Ray Fusion © Harold Davis

Also posted in X-Ray

Maine Flowers

This was an in-class light box demo, using flowers that my wonderful workshop participants scavenged from the grounds of Maine Media Workshops.

Maine Flowers © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Gardens of Maine

So far, this is a wonderful Garden Photography workshop despite the rather overpowering heat and humidity (a bit unexpected on the coast of Maine, even in August). There are fourteen participants, a very full house for this kind of workshop, but everyone is quite nice, and we don’t get in each other’s way. 

I have been doing classroom sessions, and we also have a full slate of field locations. These three are from the rather-wonderful-for-a-public-botanical-garden Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Garden Fence © Harold Davis

Unknown Flower © Harold Davis

Sunflower © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Harold Davis at B&H in New York (Aug 13, 2018)

I’ll be presenting The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency on Monday August 13, 2018 at the B&H Photo Event Space, 420 Ninth Avenue, in New York City from 1-3 PM. The event is free, but space is limited, so pre-registration is strongly suggested. Click here for information and registration for the live event, or to view it live-streamed.

Poppies and Mallows on White © Harold Davis

Event Description: According to Popular Photography, Harold Davis’s botanical images “have a purity and translucence that borders on spiritual.” Harold Davis is a renowned photographer, an internationally-known digital artist, a workshop leader, and a bestselling author of numerous books about photography. His upcoming title is The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency. He has been honored as a Zeiss Lens Ambassador and a Moab Master. His high-key photographs of flowers on a light box are widely imitated, but seldom equaled.

Poppies Dancing Inversion © Harold Davis

In this presentation, Harold will show examples of how he arranges and lights his flowers for photography. He’ll explain the secrets of high-key HDR photography, and show how his images are combined using post-production techniques. Tools, techniques, and the craft of light box photography will be demystified. Harold will explain inverting his light box images using LAB color, so they can be easily presented on a black background, and will discuss botanical printmaking, including how he makes his sought-after washi prints.

There will be a Q&A session following the talk. Click here for information and registration for the live event, or to register to view it live-streamed.

Bouquet of Neighborhood Flowers © Harold Davis

Click here for information and registration for the live event, or to register to view it live-streamed.

Also posted in Workshops

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

Also posted in Monochrome

Anthers in Love

Sometimes it is fun to get lost in the worlds of macro photography. Even the somewhat commonplace can become a different and intriguing universe. As in this conventionally lit, extreme close-up image of the anthers of an Asiatic Lily covered in pollen.

Anthers in Love © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Tulip Petal Detail after Karl Blossfeldt

Who knew that tulip stems could curl symmetrically with four looping branches? When I saw this, it reminded me of some of the flora photographed by Karl Blossfeldt. Blossfeldt’s original purpose was to present plant-world designs that could be used for ornamental architecture and ironwork, but of course his work has long since been recognized as far more profound than decorative.

I used a macro lens to capture the tulip petal detail, and used a post-production recipe that I had scripted this spring to simulate (or emulate) the look-and-feel of a Blossfeldt plate.

Tulip Petal Detail after Blossfeldt © Harold Davis

Some other images of mine that offer homage to Karl Blossfeldt: Decorative Grasses; Queen Anne’s Lace and Crassula ovata (both shown below).

Queen Anne’s Lace © Harold Davis

Crassula ovata © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Two from the iPhone files

Dogwood Flowers in a Bowl and Poppies and Echinaceas were both photographed with my iPhone camera. These were arrangements that were “collateral damage” to having flowers around from my garden and also cut from a flowering dogwood tree (see Garden Flowers with Dogwood). After photographing high-key bracketed exposures with my D850 on a tripod, I couldn’t resist also making a few quick iPhone shots shown here. Sometimes work thrown off casually just for fun stands up on its own!

Dogwood Flowers in a Bowl © Harold Davis

Both images were tweaked in Snapseed on my iPhone, then processed using the Antique Oil Painting Filter in the Photo Lab Pro app.

Poppies and Echinaceas © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone, Photography

Garden Flowers with Dogwood

This pair of images consists of a light box composition on white, and its LAB L-channel inversion on black. My thoughts are turning to Photographing Flowers for Transparency, as I am teaching my techniques this coming weekend.

Incidentally, if you can’t make the workshop this weekend, we’ve listed the 2019 Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop. It’s scheduled for the weekend of June 22-23, 2019 in Berkeley, California—and is now open for registration. Click here for more information and registration via Meetup.

Garden Flowers with Dogwood © Harold Davis

Garden Flowers with Dogwood (Inversion) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Passion of the Rose

For me, photography is about passion, vision, and seeing the world closely. Oh, I could give you some technical information about how this image was made. For example, I could explain that I used a telephoto macro lens and an extension tube, that I focus stacked, and that the rose was lit obliquely by late afternoon sun through a window.

The Passion of the Rose © Harold Davis

But beyond a certain point, who but specialists and practitioners really cares about this kind of thing? Does anyone much care what brush a painter like Georgia O’Keeffe used? We care about the raw seeing, the passion and the romance, and the feeling that the image arouses within. As we should. This is the stuff that matters.

Related image: Kiss from a Rose, shown on my blog here and here.

Also posted in Photography