Category Archives: Flowers

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.

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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).

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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

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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

Remembrance

The flowers remember when they were young. The easy, sensuous unfurling of Earthly Delights is long past. With Aging in Place the grace of youth is gone, but joy and strength are in full bloom. Today’s image shows just as much beauty with the inner core of youth and resilience supplanted and tempered with wisdom—along with a tinge of melancholy, since all things must pass.

Remembrance © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Interior Views of Flowers

For this week’s interior views of flowers, I used my macro probe lens placed inside the outer petals of the floral blossom. The upper image of a tulip is lit from behind by a light box. The lower image, inside a paperwhite, is lit with a ring light on the probe. For more interior flower images, check out Inside Lisianthus, the links within that story, and elsewhere in the flowers category on my blog.

Purple Tulip © Harold Davis

Paperwhite—Inside View © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Aging in Place

I left my arrangement of tulips, iris, and daffodils on its black velvet stage. Several days later, the bouquet had aged in place. It was still beautiful, but in a very different way than when it was younger.

Aging in Place © Harold Davis

Earthly Delights

My first love in art was color. It took me years to appreciate monochrome. As a (relatively and sometimes) mature artist, I understand that black and white lays open the bones of the composition, and I appreciate a good monochrome image as much (or more) than the next photographer.

Earthly Delights © Harold Davis

But as a young painter, I reveled in color. My affair with color began with the impressionists and post-impressionists, particularly Monet’s paintings of his garden at Giverny, Gauguin’s lush fantasies of the south seas islands and islanders, and of course Van Gogh. Soon, my horizons widened to infatuation with expressionists such as Emil Nolde, abstractionists such as Arshile Gorky, and color field painters, particularly Mark Rothko.

Life teaches us many things, not all of them lessons we wanted to learn. Color, I found out, is kind of a “cheap date.” Sure, color will entice and entrance you, but will it go the distance?

That said, when nature puts out its color finery, as in the bouquet I arranged for Earthly Delights, I am surely not above reveling in the simple and flamboyant pleasures of polychromatic imagery.

Also posted in Photography