Category Archives: Flowers

Bouquet for Phyllis

Bouquet for Phyllis © Harold Davis

With love, gratitude, and appreciation to Phyllis for all she does to make my life complete, and for our family—and her patience, strength, and fortitude in the face of life’s vicissitudes. Thank you, Phyllis! I love you always.

FAQs on how I make this kind of image: Photographing Flowers for Transparency and Using a High-Key Layer Stack.

The Bouquet I left Behind

This is a handheld iPhone capture of a light box flower arrangement (the full resolution “big boy” camera version will follow in the due fullness of time). The light box in this capture is turned off, so essentially it is a white background with ambient front lighting. I processed the image on my iPhone using the Snapseed, Mextures, and DistressedFX apps.

The Bouquet I left Behind © Harold Davis


Also posted in iPhone

Red Anemone

Yesterday we decided it was time to do some spring planting so I would have flowers to photograph and so our garden would look pretty. We came home with a few bulbs, some poppy plants, and a red anemone. Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was to photograph a red anemone flower blooming on our small plant on my light box!

Red Anemone © Harold Davis

Anemones are named after the mythological Greek spirits of the wind, because of how nicely they bob around in a breeze.

If you love anemones as much as I do you might like to check out some of my other anemone photos. Here are some other anemone images of mine: An Amazing Amalgamation of Anemones; Anemone Fun; Anemones; Core of the Anemone; Anemone on Black; White Anemone; Anemone Japonica.

These images of course go back a number of years. You can see these and more via a keyword search for “anemone” on my blog!

Also posted in Photography

Star Magnolia

Star Magnolia—magnolia stellata—is one of my favorite flowers. In the past I’ve photographed magnolia stellata for transparency here, as an upright branch, and as a light box panorama.

The two photos in this story are made in the field. I photographed these new stellata blossoms on location down the block, with the idea of contrasting the center of each flower with the softness of the stellata petals.

Magnolia Stellata B © Harold Davis

Magnolia Stellata © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

From the iPhone files

Here are two recent iPhone images. I photographed the tree in the Walnut Creek area in the foothills below Mt Diablo. This was originally two iPhone captures, one exposed for the bright sun coming through the tree, and the other for the darker foreground. 

Tree © Harold Davis

I combined the two exposures using the manual option in the TrueHDR iPhone app, then finished it with DistressedFX and Snapseed.

I photographed the tulips (shown below) the other day at our local Trader Joe’s store. I processed the image in Waterlogue to create the watercolor effect with borders, then reprocessed the Waterlogue version with the original (using ImageBlender) to walk the Waterlogue effect back a bit.

Tulips © Harold Davis

I’m often asked how iPhoneography compares to “real” photography with my “Big Boy” cameras. It’s worth saying again that there is no right or wrong. Photography is about vision and seeing, not about gear. The craft of photography is always a craft of trade-offs, and there are things I can do with my iPhone camera and related apps that I cannot do with my Nikon D850 (and of course vice versa as well).

Also posted in iPhone, Landscape

A Trio of Tulips (and Macro Lenses)

Phyllis came home with a beautiful bouquet of tulips, and this morning I photographed them on the kitchen table. Warm morning sunlight lit the flowers from behind with a glow. I could control the light using the adjustable blinds on the kitchen windows, and also by moving the placement of the flowers so they were in and out of sunbeams.

Inside the Tulip C © Harold Davis

This is the tale of some pretty flowers, nice natural ambient light, and three different 85mm lenses. To start with, I had my heavy-duty RRS tripod on the floor so I could bring the ballhead to the right height to get into the tulip blossoms from beneath. I mounted a 50mm extension tube with a tripod collar onto the ballhead. 

My first image, Inside the Tulip C (above), was made using my Zeiss Otus 85mm at f/16, focused as close as it could go on the extension tube.

Inside the Tulip B © Harold Davis

To make the next version, Inside the Tulip B (above), I swapped my 85mm Zeiss Otus for the 85mm Lensbaby Velvet and photographed wide-open (at f/1.8). Essentially, I was trading optical perfection for perfection in impressionismo! The Lensbaby Velvet makes a very different image stopped down (to f/16) in Inside the Tulip A (below)—note that the point of focus was the same for both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions. It’s worth mentioning that this lens has macro capabilities, so (combined with the extension tube) I was definitely working at a greater magnification ratio than in the ‘C’ version.

Inside the Tulip A © Harold Davis

Since I’d already had fun with two different 85mm lenses, I decided to try a third, my Nikkor 85mm tilt-shift macro. As I’ve noted before, this is a fully manual lens, without even automatic diaphragm control—you need to press a button to manually stop the lens down when you are ready to expose.

Combined with the extension tube with the macro capabilities of this lens you can really get pretty much into microscope territory. But is too much ever enough? I added a +4 close-up filter to the front of the lens, focused on the small central indent in the tulip petals, and stopped down to f/45 (as an “adjusted aperture” this records in EXIF data as f/64 by the way).

Tulip Petal © Harold Davis

Since this is a monochromatic image (in orange) and more about the patterns it presents than the coloration, I decided to try a black and white conversion, shown below.

Tulip Petal in Black and White © Harold Davis

All-in-all, a fun morning was spent photographing tulips up close and personal. There were some other things on my lists to accomplish, but I have learned (when I can) to relax, let go, and let art!

Studies in Petals

Study in Petals on Black © Harold Davis

This is a mandala-shaped arrangement of petals on a light box around a central Proteus.

Study in Petals with Proteus Center © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photograms, Photography


Proteus on Black © Harold Davis

Proteus Monochrome on Black © Harold Davis

Proteus Monochrome on White © Harold Davis

Proteus © Harold Davis

Related image: Osteospermum. Would you like to learn how to make images like this using a light box? We still have a few spaces left in our June session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency.

Also posted in Photography

Red Tulips

Flowers are beautiful, and the blossoms are always special! But sometimes the stems and leaves are what creates a special composition, and provides the underlying structure and musical harmony that makes it all possible.

Red Tulips © Harold Davis

Tulips on Black © Harold Davis

Some other images where the stems and leaves are vital to the composition: Salutation to the Sun; Tulips on White; Iris Friends; and last (but not least) Frilly Tulip (shown below, from early 2016 and never blogged).

Frilly Tulip © Harold Davis

New Year’s Day Design

I spent part of my day on January 1, 2018 making a floral design on a light box while listening to Bob Dylan (still hard to think of him as a Nobel-prize laureate!). Phyllis helped me separate Alstromeria petals by color and shape, and I arranged the petals in concentric rings around an Asiatic Lily. This is somewhat the same idea as A Palette of Petals.

Ring Theory on Black © Harold Davis

Ring Theory on White © Harold Davis

A Palette of Petals

On Christmas Day, the guests had left. The presents were unwrapped and enjoyed. OK, I admit I’d heard the yodeling pickle (a gag gift that Julian got for Mathew) one too many times. The chocolate coins had been unwrapped and demolished. The kids headed for their headsets and computer games of galactic conquest.

Floral Mandala on Black © Harold Davis

In the peace that descended, I got out my light box and placed it on a low table in the living room. Phyllis helped me work through two bunches of Alstromeria, gently taking the petals off the flowers, and separating the petals into four categories.

Floral Mandala on White © Harold Davis

With my “palette of petals,” I arranged the mandala shape shown here. Nicky and Mathew helped me carefully lift the light box to the floor. With the added height I was now able to obtain, I photographed the composition with my Zeiss 55mm Otus using my Nikon D850, and processed a blend of photos for high-key HDR. The white floral mandala that resulted is shown immediately above.

Taking the image on white, I used an L-channel inversion in Photoshop’s LAB color to place the mandala on a black background, as shown at the beginning of this story.

Happy holidays to one and all, and may good will reign privately and publicly!

Also posted in Photography

Amaryllis Unfurling

I photographed this white Amaryllis unfurling using dappled and diffused sunlight for illumination, and a black velvet cloth for the background.

Amaryllis Unfurling © Harold Davis

The image is comprised of three exposures, each using the Lensbaby 85mm f/1.6 and an extension tube, with my camera mounted on a tripod. I varied the aperture (and adjusted the shutter speed to compensate) to take advantage of the different effects this lens has depending upon how wide open or shut down it is. The exposure at f/1.6 yielded the bright sunlit areas on the upper right, the exposure at f/4 covers most of the mid-tones, and the exposure at f/16 sharpened the inner unfurling.

Also posted in Monochrome, Photography

Mottled-leaf Paphiopedilum

This is an image of an orchid I made today with a new lens, the 85mm f/1.8 Lensbaby Velvet. This is a lens designed to create a glowing effect in the center, hence it has applications for portraiture. Since the lens is also fairly capable in terms of close-ups (it focuses to 1/2 life size), it also seems like an optic that has potential with botanical art. In any case, it is quite a bit of fun to play with!

Mottled-leaf Paphiopedilum © Harold Davis

I haven’t had fun with anything Lensbaby in quite a while (since 2010), but back in the day I used older Lensbaby optics quite a bit. You can check some of these out by clicking here.

Also posted in Lensbaby, Photography

Two new rose roses

Rose Rose 2 © Harold Davis


Rose Rose 3 © Harold Davis

Click here for the original Rose Rose in Rose and in Black and White!

Announcing a new session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency—June 23-24, 2018

We’re pleased to announce by popular demand a new session of Harold’s acclaimed Photographing Flowers for Transparency weekend workshop, to be held in Berkeley, CA Saturday and Sunday June 23 and 24, 2018. Enrollment is limited. Registration opens Jan 1, 2018 on a first-come-first-served basis.

Click here for more information about this workshop, here for the Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ, and here for Harold’s upcoming event, workshop, and destination photo tour schedule. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

The Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop is a great deal of fun, and covers Harold’s light box techniques as well as related topics (see the partial list below). If you are interested in Harold’s unique approaches, this is the best way to learn. Each participant will produce their own fully processed images following Harold’s lectures and demonstrations, and with Harold’s personal hands-on supervision.

Flowering Dogwood & Friends © Harold Davis

Topics covered in the Photographing Flowers for Transparency Workshop include:

  • Floral arrangement and composition
  • Botanical art in the digital era
  • Shooting on a light box
  • Understanding high-key post-production
  • Working with Photoshop layers
  • High-key HDR
  • LAB color effects
  • Backgrounds and textures
  • Preparing to make floral pigment prints
  • Tips & techniques from Harold Davis
  • Implementing one’s own vision

Flowers at School © Harold Davis

Here are what some participants in Harold’s recent Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshops have said:

  • “Harold is unmatchable! An honor to be able to be able to have him as a mentor…. for photography and for life.”
  • “AWESOME!!! Harold has a great teaching style, and it was great to learn some new shooting and post-processing techniques.”
  • “Excellent!!! Recommend to anyone who wants to take their flower art to the next level.”
  • “Amazing teacher! Patient, knowledgeable, thoughtful and sharing, easy to learn from. Looking forward to many more workshops with Harold! What a total gem… “

Floral Composition © Harold Davis

From Harold’s introductory note to workshop participants:

My belief is that folks learn most when they are hands-on, and having fun. So we will be doing a great deal of flower arrangement and flower photography—and I think along with new ways of seeing, you will learn some techniques, and ways of using your camera, that may not have occurred to you before.

These new approaches are great with flower photography, but also go way beyond floral subject matter, and are really applicable to many kinds of photography.

Besides floral photography, floral arrangement, working on a light box, and various kinds of special lighting effects, we will be exploring high-key HDR, post-production in Photoshop, backgrounds and textures, and LAB color, and much more. As you can see, it will be a very special, busy, and creative weekend!

Click here for more information about this workshop, here for the Photographing Flowers for Transparency FAQ, and here for Harold’s upcoming event, workshop, and destination photo tour schedule. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

Kiss from a Rose © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops