Category Archives: Flowers

The Making of Creative Garden Photography | Free Webinar

Our new book Creative Garden Photography has been at least ten years in the making from conception to finished production files. In this free webinar, on Sunday July 5, 2020 at 11am PT, Phyllis and I will be joined by Rocky Nook associate publisher Ted Waitt. We’ll take a look at the images in the book, the ideas behind the book, the techniques the book covers, some of the stories told in the book, book production, how the book design relates to garden design as well as photography, and answer questions from the audience. A discount code for book and eBook purchases from the publisher will be provided.

The webinar is free, but registration in advance is required. Click here to register for the Creative Garden Photography webinar.

We have a number of technique webinars coming up that I hope you’ll find useful. You can find the complete list of webinars by clicking here, and below. Recordings of our past webinars can be found in the Harold Davis Photography YouTube channel. You’ll also find live events (I don’t currently have any scheduled until 2021 due to the pandemic) on this page.

I am particularly excited to be sharing stories and images from the Camino de Santiago on Saturday, July 18. This is a free webinar, but requires registration. Click here for more info.

  • Printing, Proofing, and all about Paper with Moab Masters Scott Barrow, Harold Davis, and Jim Graham [Benefits Equal Justice Initiative] | Thursday September 24, 2020 at 10am PT click here for registration. Seats are limited. Click here for details.
  • Master Photographer Panel with Jennifer King and Alan Shapiro, moderated by Harold Davis [Benefits NAACP] | Saturday October 10, 2020 at 11am PT click here for registration. Seats are limited. 
  • Master Photographer Panel with Anne Belmont and Bryan Peterson, moderated by Harold Davis [Benefits Center for Policing Equity] | Saturday November 14, 2020 at 11am PT click here for registration. Seats are limited. 
Giverny Afternoon © Harold Davis

Giverny Afternoon © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Writing

By Twos and Threes

Duo © Harold Davis

Duo © Harold Davis

Sometimes my flowers come all in a group with no social distancing at all. Other times, my flowers come in twos and threes. Which do you like better?

Orange Triad © Harold Davis

Orange Triad © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Cactus Flowers

Down a few blocks, and around the corner, some wonderful cactus flowers bloomed in a pot on the street. Walking with one of my sons we passed the flowers in the early evening. Cactus flowers tend to bloom and fade quickly, and are mostly heliotropic. The next morning I grabbed my camera and tripod, and headed over to photograph these luscious flowers. The light was little on the harsh side, or maybe a lot on the harsh side, but—news flash—the light you’ve got is the light you’ve got. 

Cactus Flowers © Harold Davis

Cactus Flowers © Harold Davis

The inside of this single cactus blossom reminded me of a spiral, or perhaps a spiral galaxy!

Spiral Cactus Flower © Harold Davis

Spiral Cactus Flower © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Red Poppy

All the richness and wealth in the world cannot compare with the worth and beauty at the core of a single flower, and how the flower makes me feel!

Red Poppy © Harold Davis

Red Poppy © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Birds of Paradise in a Glass Vase

Birds of Paradise in a Glass Vase © Harold Davis

Birds of Paradise in a Glass Vase © Harold Davis

Yesterday I photographed five Birds of Paradise flowers (Strelitzia reginae, a plant closely related to the banana incidentally) from our garden on a light box. Specifically, the flowers were upright in a vase and placed on one light box. A second light box was placed upright, perpendicularly to the first. You can see the set up in a iPhone capture my son Nicholas made for me, shown at the bottom of this story.

We’ve been having great fun and success with teaching Photographing Flowers for Transparency online using the webinar format. This doesn’t quite make up for not being able to have the live workshops, but it is something, and at least accessible to folks who can’t travel to my studio here in Berkeley.

You can find the recordings of our first four sessions on the Harold Davis Photography YouTube channel. The fifth class and last class in the series is coming up next week; here is the registration link for the live session.

Please also keep in mind our four-session Creativity Bootcamp: Awaken Your Inner Dragon scheduled for June. The class is limited to 12 participants so that we can get to know each other and have ample time for assignments and feedback. There are a few seats still available; here is the registration link.

Also posted in Photography

Photographing Flowers at Home

So I am sheltering in place at home, like many (or most) of us. In some alternative universe, my travel plans have proceeded, well, according to plan—and I would be in the midst of a long trip to Germany, France, and trekking along the Camino de Santiago. Since I seem unable to predict what groceries we will have tomorrow, or when there will be plentiful TP again, or indeed anything at all about the Zombie Apocalypse that is upon us, predicting when I will travel again with my camera seems a true exercise in futility.

For me, there is some good news in all the awful stuff going on. First, we remain very busy. Also, our four kids are actually happier on Zoom and at home than they were in school. In contrast to some parental angst I have been reading about being cooped up with one’s kids, they have been getting along very nicely together, and we all have been enjoying spending time together.

And the garden is going into full bloom! If I can’t photograph the world at large, I can have a great time photographing at home. Here are some of my floral images from recent days! No social distancing for these flowers. Which one is your favorite?

Poppies from our Garden Path © Harold Davis

Poppies from our Garden Path © Harold Davis

Flowers as a Group © Harold Davis

Flowers as a Group © Harold Davis

Papaver Party © Harold Davis

Papaver Party © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Spring of our Discontent

White Papaver Nudicaule Inversion © Harold Davis

White Papaver Nudicaule Inversion © Harold Davis

This is the spring of our discontent. Or at least the spring of isolating in place. As long as we are on Shakespeare near-quotations, “Sweet are the uses of adversity which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.”

In that spirit, keeping to our quarantined state has given me time to pursue projects I have long been putting off, like mastering video creation and leading remote webinars.

My garden is in glorious April bloom, and I have flowers to photograph. Like the white Papaver nudicaule (Icelandic poppy) shown in this story.

White Papaver Nudicaule © Harold Davis

White Papaver Nudicaule © Harold Davis

To make the image on white, I cut the flower and placed it on my light box. Making the exposure, I decided not to use a macro lens. I picked a great piece of glass, my Zeiss 135mm f/2 moderate telephoto lens. I have used this lens for this kind of composition with success before, for example in Matilija Poppies and Mallows. I added a 12mm extension tube between the lens and camera so I could focus closer.

I made six exposures with the camera on the tripod at shutter speeds between 1/13 of a second and 2.5 seconds. Each exposure was at f/22 and ISO 64. I processing the captures as a high-key layer stack in Photoshop.

With the final version on white processed, I decided to see what would happen using creative LAB color techniques, specifically an L-channel inversion. Since the L-channel inversion swaps white for blacks and black for whites, to some extent it will leave a fairly neutral mid-gray (such as this flower’s petals) close to untouched, while swapping the background colors.

I was pleasantly surprised at the results of the LAB L-channel swap (shown at the top of this story), followed by a few additional Photoshop tweaks.

Enjoy this time, and use it for staying creative!

Also posted in Photography

Flower Power

Flower Power. It’s hip to be square—as in the floral carpet image (below). Making space for conversations with flowers (middle image on white, bottom image an LAB L-channel inversion on black) is an important part of my life. Kind of like meditation with my petaled friends (most are from our garden). 

Flowers Squared © Harold Davis

Flowers Squared © Harold Davis

Speaking with Flowers © Harold Davis

Speaking with Flowers © Harold Davis

Speaking with Flowers (on Black) © Harold Davis

Speaking with Flowers (on Black) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Tulips like Stained Glass

Tulip like Stained Glass © Harold Davis

Tulip like Stained Glass © Harold Davis

I got these tulips when they were nearly unopened, sourced from a local organic farm (the same place my anemone models came from a while back). After a while, the blossoms opened, the pale pink turned reddish, and in the insides came alive when placed on a light box like stained glass.

Tulip Fandango © Harold Davis

Tulip Fandango © Harold Davis

Orange Rose

Starting the new year right, I took my time with a bouquet of orange and white roses, first photographing a white rose close up for differential focus. Next, I made several different views of the orange roses, horizontal (top), an “O’Keeffe like” view (middle), and a side angle of the petals (bottom).  What a fun way to spend some time with my camera and some pretty flowers!

Orange Rose © Harold Davis

Orange Rose © Harold Davis

Yellow Rose 2 © Harold Davis

Orange Rose 2 (after O’Keeffe) © Harold Davis

Yellow Rose 3 © Harold Davis

Orange Rose 3 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

White Rose

When I saw this white rose, I wanted to contrast the spiral center with its clear delineations and the softness of the outer petals. I used a Lensbaby 85mm Velvet, and made two exposures, with my Nikon D850 on a tripod. The exposure for the center was stopped down at f/16, and for the outer petals wide open at f/1.8. I combined the two exposures using a layer, layer mask, and the Brush Tool in Photoshop.

White Rose © Harold Davis

White Rose © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

First Flowers of the Decade

Altar of Roses © Harold Davis

Altar of Roses © Harold Davis

First and foremost, we enjoyed the pale orange and white roses with the coming of the New Year. Next, I photographed petals close-up (these are still to come as I haven’t processed them yet). Finally, I photographed some of the flowers using one of my light boxes (this resulting image is shown above).

The world, as poet William Blake put it, can be found in a grain of sand, or a water drop. It can also be found in a human body, or a single flower. I could spend my life working with one blossom. Ultimately, there is so much in the world to see and photograph that getting bored—or being boring—makes no sense to me.

Click here for my best of 2019.

Also posted in Photography

Double Mandala

A mandala as wreath is nice, and more so with a starfish. So, why not twice as nice? Hence this Double Mandala.

Double Mandala © Harold Davis

Double Mandala © Harold Davis

Echinacea Seed Pod X-Ray

Echinacea Seed Pod on Black © Harold Davis

Very special thanks to the scientists in the Photon Science group at the Advanced Light Source, Lawrence Berkeley National Labs who used the Beamline when it was in maintenance mode to help with this capture.

Check out more x-ray photos of mine here.

Echinacea Seed Pod - Sepia © Harold Davis

Echinacea Seed Pod – Sepia © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome, X-Ray

Flower Magic

This is a light box image of sunflowers, tulips, and irises, with bamboo cut from the neighborhood. Click here for an FAQ about my techniques for photographing flowers for transparency, and here for the next session of my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop in June. My workshop is end-to-end, starting with floral arrangement, continuing to individual hands-on photography, and explaining the post-production techniques I use in these images.

Flower Magic © Harold Davis

Flower Magic © Harold Davis

The image shown here was photographed on a light box; the resulting image on white was then added to a scanned paper background, using the techniques I teach in my online Photoshop Backgrounds & Textures course.

Also posted in Photography