Category Archives: Flowers

Dahlia X-Ray

This image is a pretty straightforward x-ray of a rather small Dahlia blossom. Julian and I made the exposure last week at his radiology practice near Heidelberg. In post-production, I converted to LAB color. Next, I used a series of curve adjustments to equalize the various densities in the image. Long live the Dahlia!

Dahlia X-Ray © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, Photograms, Photography, X-Ray

Helichrysum bracteatum

I photographed this Helichrysum bracteatum (strawflower) blossom on my light box (far below), then inverted the image in LAB Color, and converted to monochromatic (directly below).

I’m headed tomorrow to Maine to teach a workshop in Composition & Photography. I am looking forward very much to the week on mid-coast Maine at Maine Media Workshops, where I haven’t been since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 (webinars are great, but they don’t take the place of in-person workshops!).

Should you be feeling nostalgic for 2020 and the early pandemic, you can also check out Love in the Time of the Coronavirus on my blog.

Helichrysum bracteatum © Harold Davis

Helichrysum bracteatum on white © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Butterfly of Flowers

It’s fun to use flowers to create animistic shapes on the light box, like good-luck dragons and this “Butter-flower” shown below.

Butterfly of Flowers © Harold Davis

Also 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.

Also posted in Photography

Clematis in Love

Clematis in Love © Harold Davis

Over my garden gate, the Clematis vine is thriving, provided we keep its “feet” moist. Two of the Clematis flowers bloomed together, and I cropped them to make this composition on the light box.

Over the years, I’ve got pretty good mileage from this Clematis “Bee’s Jubilee”), which does quite well—but not always in a predictable way in terms of when the flowers arrive.

The other flowers—including an Echinacea (cone flower) and Matilija poppy (this is a poppy of the Romneya genus, rather than the more common Papaver)—were all cut from the garden where I could find them.

My first thought was to create a horizontal composition, and I proceeded to do so. Actually, this is one of those somewhat unusual images that works in either orientation.

Since the two Clematis blossoms were so happy together “in the wild”, I’m happy I was able to keep them together in this composition.

Perfect Dahlia Day

In the pre-dawn cool I walked around the house and down to our dahlia bed in the side yard. There was one perfect white blossom. I cropped it, and placed it in a vase, ready for its turn as a star in front of my camera after breakfast. I tried the traditional poses, and laid it flat on the light box, but when all is said and done this somewhat unconventional side view of petals works best for me.

Perfect Dahlia Day © Harold Davis

Dahlias are, of course, a favorite flower of mine to photograph. Click here for more.

Also posted in Photography

Photographing Flowers for Transparency weekend workshop

We’ll be holding a full weekend Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop Saturday August 6 – Sunday August 7, 2022 here on the east side of the San Francisco Bay.  This is a complete soup-to-nuts photography and digital post-production workshop. This workshop will not be on my 2023 workshop schedule for the Bay area, and there are a few spaces left—so if you are interested in flower photography, or in light box photography, please consider joining our small group for a great weekend of fun in a flower-filled studio!

Click here for more info and the complete curriculum

Some Fine Poppies © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Workshops

Orchid

Phyllis brought a Phalaenopsis (“moth orchid”) home for a short visit to our sunny living room. Leaving the orchid in its decorative pot, I photographed the blossoms using a vertical light box setup (image below).

This genus of orchid was first brought to Europe in the mid-nineteenth century and collected by the Victorians. Today, it is widely sold for decorative purposes throughout the world because of its ease of propagation and cultivation. While the range of the genus in the wild includes Java and Australia, it probably originated in the Philippines (the tag on the Phalaenopsis that I photographed indicates that my specimen was grown in Salinas, California).

Orchid © Harold Davis

Next, I photographed a single flower up close and personal using my macro probe lens (below). Corn Poppy is another example of an image that uses this lens for a floral close-up.

The orchid close-up is actually a composite, with the lower half exposed using the ring light built into the lens, and the upper half exposed using ambient backlighting. With the camera firmly held in place on a sturdy tripod, the composition of the two images stayed the same despite the different lighting. I combined the two different images using a simple layer mask and gradient in Photoshop.

Phalaenopsis © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Campanulas

I cut a stalk of Campanulas (“Canterbury Bells”) from the garden. I laid the bunch gently on my light box for a sequence of high-key captures (below).

Campanula (Canterbury Bells) © Harold Davis

Often, photography of flowers on a light box destroys my models, and this makes me sad. However, in this case the Campanulas were completely intact following photography. So I placed them in a cut crystal vase, and brought them upstairs to enjoy.

It seemed to me that the flowers were pretty special in the vase, but how to capture them? The answer was to use two light boxes, arranged perpendicularly to each other—as in this Light Box Photography in Three Dimensions tutorial video (post-production for a three-dimensional light box image is shown in the follow-up video here).

My Campanulas in a Vase image is shown below following post-production.

Campanulas in a Vase © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Florista

I’ve been experimenting with creating images that look a little like a wall of flowers one might see at a florist shop. From a set design viewpoint, an important challenge is how to establish multiple vertical “levels”—because a single row is basically boring, and not a good way to create a three-dimensional wall.

Florista (on white) © Harold Davis

With the version on black (below), I dealt with this issue by adding supports behind the black velvet background. I think this works pretty well, but if you consider the image there is a certain “I’m floating in air” aspect to the composition.

Florista (on black) © Harold Davis

I like the version on a white seamless background best (top). With this setup, I decided to try a “form follows function” approach, and use visible supports to raise the height of some of the individual floral arrangements. To achieve this, I used spine-side-out books, notably the large collection of New Yorker cartoons shown on the right side (Charles Dickens and Mel Brooks are somewhat hidden in the background).

Also posted in Photography

Too Many Tulips Are Not Enough

As an archetype, “James Bond” is deeply embedded for better and worse somewhere not far below the surface of cis-Males of my generation. But what if James Bond had liked flowers more than guns, gadgets, fast women, and cars? From that viewpoint, when faced with the challenges of recuperation, a light box, and a mass of tulips, I can only say, “Too many tulips are not enough!”

Too Many Tulips Are Not Enough © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Another Take

Here’s another take on that wonderfully graphic flower subject, the Calla Lily.

Calla Lily Study #2 © Harold Davis

Flower like a shell

I’ve been working on photographing a group of white Calla Lilies the past few days. With this image, I tried to abstract the flower so that it seemed almost like a shell, or perhaps the sensuous lines of fabric.

Calla Lily Study © Harold Davis

Also posted in Abstractions, Monochrome, Photography

Harbinger of Spring

I remember when I lived in colder climates seeing the daffodils, green shoots with a yellow blossom, push their way through the frozen ground. So for me, daffodils will always be a harbinger of spring, and spring a sign of hopeful renewal, no matter what is going on in the world around me.

This Bunch of Daffodils is one of a Bunch of Bunches—although sometimes a mixed arrangement ages in an interesting way, as in Flowers for Miss Havisham.

Daffodil Bunch © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Flowers for Miss Havisham

Flowers for Miss Havisham (below) completes the quartet of four images begun with Earthly Delights, and continued with Aging in Place and Remembrance.

Flowers for Miss Havisham © Harold Davis

Remembrance © Harold Davis

Aging in Place © Harold Davis

Earthly Delights © Harold Davis