Category Archives: Flowers

Inside Lisianthus

At the florist, it typically goes by the name Lisianthus. It’s also commonly known as the Prairie gentian, reflecting the grasslands where this flower is usually found (when not at a florist!). The modern botanical name is Eustoma, from the ancient Greek words for “pleasing mouth.”

Inside Lisianthus © Harold Davis

By whatever name, the deep blossom shape called out to my macro-probe lens, one of a series of images I have photographed inside flower blossoms including those shown in Hollyhock ‘Halo Candy’, Falling in Love, Inside Digitalis, Flowers or Sea Creatures, and more.

With these photographs, the macro wide-angle lens on a stalk goes with the blossom. I use the builtin ring light to see to focus, then use a relatively long exposure (usually about thirty seconds) to capture the details inside the flower.

Also posted in Photography

Petals on a Plate

I have got a great deal of mileage over the years from Alstroemeria (Peruvian lily) petals. These petals are shown in this photo on a decorative glass plate on my light box. Compared to other flower petals, they seem to work particularly well with light coming through them, backlit on a light box. This is due to the translucency of the alstroemeria petal, their variability in color, and variegated patterns and markings.

Petals on a Plate © Harold Davis

It’s hard to know where to begin with my images that use these flower petals, but a few that I like are Floral Composition, Alstroemeria Medley, Petals on Parade, New Year’s Dragon, Spiral of Flower Karma, It Starts with a Petal and Ends with a Twist of Fate, Floral Tondo, and Flowers on Ebony and Ivory. Selected images from these blog stories are shown below.

Floral Composition © Harold Davis

Alstroemeria Medley © Harold Davis

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

New Year’s Dragon on Black © Harold Davis

Spiral of Flower Karma © Harold Davis

Spiral of Flower Karma © Harold Davis

A Simple Twist of Fate 4 © Harold Davis

Floral Tondo 1 © Harold Davis

Will You Won’t You Join the Dance © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

White Peony

I photographed this white peony the other day on my light box. Most flowers reveal a highly organized inner core; this bashful peony exemplifies more private mysteries. The result, white on white, is unlike the more typical flower mandala, and more resembles something logographic, such as a heiroglyph or kanji character.

White Peony © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Announcing a new live Photographing Flowers for Transparency Weekend Workshop (2022)

2022 Photographing Flowers for Transparency with Harold Davis (Weekend Workshop) | LIVE and IN-PERSON

Master photographer Harold Davis is well-known for his often imitated—but seldom equaled—digital images of luscious transparent and translucent flowers.

In this unique workshop offering, Harold Davis shows the techniques he uses to create his floral masterpieces. Arrangement, composition, photography, post-production will all be covered, as will Harold’s special techniques for shooting on a light box.

There is no better way to learn the floral transparency techniques that Harold Davis has pioneered. The multi-day format will give participants the chance to complete their imagery using the techniques that Harold will demonstrate, with input and help from “the master”. We will follow up with an online Zoom session for further critique and help with work.

Spaces are limited. Click here to read more and for the curriculum!


Love is a Many Splendored Thing © Harold Davis

Where: Berkeley, CA

When: Saturday August 6 – Sunday August 7, 2022

Tuition: $1195

Special Feature: We will follow-up with a Zoom webinar approximately two weeks from the workshop to showcase and critique participant work (and to help with any problems).

Workshop size: Maximum of 14 photographers

To register: Visit the listing on Meetup to register using Paypal (by RSVPing YES), or contact us for direct registration by check or credit card. Please do contact us if you need help with registration, or have any questions.

Click here to read more and for the curriculum.

Refund & Covid Policy: Refunds are available up to 90 days before the workshop (less a $100 cancellation fee). After that, no refunds unless we are forced to cancel the workshop. Please protect your investment in the workshop by buying travel insurance to cover the workshop fee and travel expenses. Covid vaccination is required to attend. We follow all health protocols in place at the time of the workshop.

Also posted in Workshops

Does size really matter?

Does size really matter? Sometimes smaller is better, as I think is the case with these two light box compositions. Both are based around a lattice of small viola blossoms, colorful translucent flowers in the Violaceae family.

Both compositions are small in their entirety, taking up only a fractional portion of the area (maybe 1/12) of my A1 (26″ X 36″) light box. Makes for easier photography because I don’t have to get as high up, with a moderate telephoto lens such as the Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 used in these two images.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing © Harold Davis

Tapestry of Small Flowers © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Live Long and Prosper

This photograph shows the Carpellary receptacle of a Lotus flower, Nelumbo nucifera. The Lotus is a sacred flower in both Hinduism and Buddhism. I photographed this Lotus in a small lily pond at the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Lotus Flower © Harold Davis

The round, flat-topped green structure in the center of the flower is called the Carpellary receptacle. The tiny red bumps on the surface of the Carpellary receptacle are female stigmas that each contain an ovule.

These ovules will be fertilized by the male anthers, shown in my photo surrounding the Carpellary receptacle, and after fertilization the ovules will turn into seeds. As the process progresses, the Carpellary platform will start to tilt, and the seeds will fall into the water surrounding the Lotus.

Many of the seeds will be eaten for food—the Lotus is an important food crop in China, often planted alongside rice, and all parts of the plant are edible—but those seeds that survive will eventually become new plants.

An astounding thing about the Lotus is how long the seeds can survive and still be viable, in some documented cases over 1,000 years. That’s why the Lotus has become a symbol of longevity.

Also posted in Photography

Cymbidium Orchid and Sidewalk

The Cymbidium Orchid image is a reprocess of a 2016 light box image, with a background texture added at the behest of a client. The Cymbidium grows outdoors in our garden (as a transplanted Easterner these many years, this still strikes me as notable!).

The Sidewalk image was photographed straight down using my iPhone 12 in Akureyri, the second largest “city” in Iceland, with a population of about 12,000.

Both are examples of images that in my opinion would not work without color (discussed in More about seeing in Black & White).

Cymbidium Orchid © Harold Davis

Sidewalk © Harold Davis

Also posted in Abstractions, Patterns, Photography

Hollyhock ‘Halo Candy’

I photographed this Hollyhock (Alcea rosea) blossom from our garden on a light box. The blossom was positioned upright with an improvised holder constructed from paperclips, tape, and an empty pen barrel. I used the same wide-angle macro lens and technique as with Corn Poppy.

Hollyhock ‘Halo Candy’ © Harold Davis

Exif data: Nikon D850, Laowa 24mm f/14 2X macro probe lens, four exposures each at f/45 and ISO 64; shutter speeds from 2 seconds to 20 seconds; tripod mounted; exposure combined in Photoshop.

Also posted in Photography

Have you ever seen a poppy seed up really close and personal?

By way of background, check out Poppy Dancer and All Along the Watchtowers and the Papapver pod bouquet in Recent Images.

Looking at the close-up of the top of a Papaver pod in Crown of Papavers (below), I’d like to point a few things out. The ring of arches just below the “crown” is where fertilized poppy seeds come out once the pod is “ripe.” Somewhat like curtains, the “entrances” to the passages to the inside curl down. You can see these as curved pads below each opening.

The amazing part are the highly-magnified poppy seeds themselves. If you look at them closely (click the image on your computer to enlarge it, or use “haptic” motions on a phone or iPad to view the seeds more closely) you’ll see that these are not just the simple little black dots we associate with the poppy seed. At this intense magnification, they are patterned and almost honeycombed. There’s amazing detail and structure even in the smallest things in the natural world.

Crown of Papavers © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Poppy Dancer and All Along the Watchtowers

Lately, I’ve been photographing poppy pods, dried poppies from our garden. In a few instances, these remains-of-the-day poppies look like fantastic figurines, as in Poppy Dancer, immediately below. 

Poppy Dancer © Harold Davis

For me, this image of a dried poppy resembles a lithe dancer, in a tutu and with a hat. Ironically, I once used in-camera multiple exposures to photograph a human dancer with “poppy” in her name as a model.

Many of the poppy pods are architectural, in the way of sculpture or pottery, when you look at them highly magnified—architectural forms from nature, like those used by Antonin Gaudi. Or perhaps All Along the Watchtowers (below) most resembles a portion of a Southeast Asia Opium Warlord’s palace.

All Along the Watchtowers © Harold Davis

Gear and post-production stuff: I photographed on a velvet background using my Nikon D850 on a heavy-duty tripod. The lens was the Nikkor 200mm f/4 macro, with a 50mm Nikon PN-11 extension tube between the lens and camera. For the images that resembled architecture, the biggest problem was to angle the perspective so the viewer can see the “arcades” and “arches.” To help with this, I added a +4 close-up lens. 

Exposure and processing were using a sequence of low-key HDR captures, as explained in my webinar video recordings Photography on Black and The Blossfeldt Effect.

Also posted in Photography

Recent Images

I’m pleased with my images from the last week or so, and am having trouble keeping up with my photography in post-production, and also as a blogger. But here are three of my recent images (below). There’s just so much going on the real world and with family…

On the Workshop front, the early-bird discount on Photography Flowers for Transparency ends soon. And, I’m off to Iceland for photography in two weeks!

Papaver Pods © Harold Davis

I never promised you a rose garden © Harold Davis

Gaillardia © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography, Workshops

A white poppy and a mandala

White Poppy © Harold Davis

Please keep in mind our in-person Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop the weekend of September 25-26 located in Berkeley, California. There’s a $200 early-bird discount until the end of June. Click here for more information.

Full Nelson (Mandala) Black version © Harold Davis

Full Nelson (Mandala) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Some flowers from our garden

The Way Things Were © Harold Davis

Papaver rhoeas © Harold Davis

Click here for our upcoming (September) Photographing Flowers for Transparency in-person workshop!

Also posted in Photography

Save the Last Dance

For this image, I framed essentially a portrait view of the mallow (upper left) and the poppy (along the right, purple and red).

For some reason, the Save the Last Dance song, melody and lyrics, went through my head as I composed and honed the image. So I used the song as the name for my image. Perhaps the poppy is addressing the mallow? Flowers are so ephemeral.

Save the Last Dance for Me © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Fantasy in the Key of Campanula

Often when I am through with the primary photography in a light box design, I continue to experiment by adding lines, weaving botanicals, getting closer, and anything else that is fun that I can think of. Fantasy in the Key of Campanula is an example of this kind of improvisation, with the lines of the Campanulas (Bell flower) laid over the original design, then photographed close for a different kind of composition.

Fantasy in the Key of Campanula © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography