Category Archives: Flowers

Fantastic Iris and White Camellia

A great deal of our energy lately has gone into clearing my parents’ house to make it ready for sale. This is a thankless task and emotionally very difficult. Fortunately, we are almost done. But every time I think we’ve removed everything the house disgorges something new—this time a collection of small glass bottles, cowering in a corner.

I used these bottles to anchor some flowers from my garden, photographed with my 85mm tilt-shift macro on a white seamless background.

Fantastic Iris © Harold Davis

White Camellia © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Essence of Simplicity

A single blossom from my garden is apparently the essence of simplicity. The power of these images of flower blossoms relies on this apparent simplicity: you are supposedly looking at the whole blossom and nothing but the blossom against a straight black background. 

To the casual glance, the only real photographic control involves lighting. Simple as these compositions seem to be, they do depend upon attractive overall lighting.

Sometimes the apparently simplest things are the hardest to pull off. It would be a mistake to underestimate the craft that goes into these straightforward compositions.

Related images: Frilly Goddesses; Topography of Camellia.

Camellia ‘Pearl Maxwell Blush’ © Harold Davis

Camellia ‘Elizabeth Weaver’ © Harold Davis

Ranunculus on Black © Harold Davis

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Frilly Godesses

My flowers are like frilly Goddesses. But not in a fey way, or an overly cute way. The textures these blossoms provide could almost be fabrics or garments. The beauty I see in my viewfinder makes my heart pause, and regard the world with gladness despite the sadness that lingers.

Above: Ranunculus, photographed on black velvet, Nikkor 85mm tilt-shift macro, six exposures at shutter speeds ranging from 1 second to 30 seconds; each exposure at f/64 (effective aperture) and ISO 64; mounted on tripod; exposures combined in Photoshop.

Below: Iris, photographed on a light box, Zeiss 50mm Macro, seven exposures at shutter speeds ranging from 1/15 of a second to 4 seconds; each exposure at f/22 and ISO 64; mounted on tripod; exposures combined in Photoshop.

Ranunculus © Harold Davis

Iris © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Topography of Camellia

In the wake of the death of my parents, I created a new garden on the shaded side of our house. This is a mostly ignored narrow strip between our house and the fence that separates us from the sidewalk on the San Ramon side. I anchored this “memorial garden” with three camellia bushes. The central camellia is an espaliered Camellia “Nuncio’s Pearl” (a full blossom is shown at the bottom of this story). 

I surrounded the camellias with anemones and campanulas, all flowering plants that should thrive in this part shade environment. Hopefully, they will eventually carpet the area with blossoms.

We have several hummingbird feeders in this area, and I plan to add a birdbath.

Topography of Camellia © Harold Davis

Topography of Camellia is an abstraction created from one of the first blossoms from this garden. As with a Rorschach, what you see in this image may depend more on you than on me.

Camellia Nuncio’s Pearl © Harold Davis

Also posted in Abstractions, Photography

Wrapping up the Year: Flower Close-Ups

White Anemone © Harold Davis

Heading into a new year, I always like to look back through my photography of the waning year to see what I might have overlooked. Here are a few candidates in the “flower: close-ups” category. 

Best wishes to all for a great 2023!

Poppy in Pink © Harold Davis

All things must pass © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Fusion X-Rays

These two flower images are fusion X-Rays: one part medical X-Ray combined with one part light box photo. I created them last month in collaboration with my friend Dr Julian Kopke, radiologist and photographer extraordinaire. Some more info about the fusion process can be found in this story.

Check out the X-Ray category on my blog, and my portfolio of X-Ray images.

Calla Lilly Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Rose Bouquet – Fusion X-Ray © Harold Davis

Also posted in X-Ray

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


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


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