Category Archives: Flowers

Sunflower X-Ray Fusion

This is a fusion of an x-ray and a light box high-key HDR sequence, using a medical x-ray machine and photographed on a light box. My friend Dr Julian Koepke and I collaborated on making some of these images, and we will get to play with flowers, X-rays, and light boxes again tomorrow! 

Sunflower X-Ray Fusion © Harold Davis

Maine Flowers

This was an in-class light box demo, using flowers that my wonderful workshop participants scavenged from the grounds of Maine Media Workshops.

Maine Flowers © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Gardens of Maine

So far, this is a wonderful Garden Photography workshop despite the rather overpowering heat and humidity (a bit unexpected on the coast of Maine, even in August). There are fourteen participants, a very full house for this kind of workshop, but everyone is quite nice, and we don’t get in each other’s way. 

I have been doing classroom sessions, and we also have a full slate of field locations. These three are from the rather-wonderful-for-a-public-botanical-garden Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

Garden Fence © Harold Davis

Unknown Flower © Harold Davis

Sunflower © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency: Harold Davis at B&H in New York (Aug 13, 2018)

I’ll be presenting The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency on Monday August 13, 2018 at the B&H Photo Event Space, 420 Ninth Avenue, in New York City from 1-3 PM. The event is free, but space is limited, so pre-registration is strongly suggested. Click here for information and registration for the live event, or to view it live-streamed.

Poppies and Mallows on White © Harold Davis

Event Description: According to Popular Photography, Harold Davis’s botanical images “have a purity and translucence that borders on spiritual.” Harold Davis is a renowned photographer, an internationally-known digital artist, a workshop leader, and a bestselling author of numerous books about photography. His upcoming title is The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency. He has been honored as a Zeiss Lens Ambassador and a Moab Master. His high-key photographs of flowers on a light box are widely imitated, but seldom equaled.

Poppies Dancing Inversion © Harold Davis

In this presentation, Harold will show examples of how he arranges and lights his flowers for photography. He’ll explain the secrets of high-key HDR photography, and show how his images are combined using post-production techniques. Tools, techniques, and the craft of light box photography will be demystified. Harold will explain inverting his light box images using LAB color, so they can be easily presented on a black background, and will discuss botanical printmaking, including how he makes his sought-after washi prints.

There will be a Q&A session following the talk. Click here for information and registration for the live event, or to register to view it live-streamed.

Bouquet of Neighborhood Flowers © Harold Davis

Click here for information and registration for the live event, or to register to view it live-streamed.

Also posted in Workshops

Papaver Poppy Pods Gone to Seed

When Papavers go to seed, they produce pods that hold the seeds. You can scrape out the pod to harvest the seeds. When one puts a  clump of these seeds into a mortar and pestle and grinds them into a paste then one is well on the way to refining opium. Of course, to be clear, you have to start with a Papaver somniferum rather than some other Papaver variety to get opium. Who me? Lest anyone is curious, mine are purely decorative, and I have absolutely no interest in growing my own opium patch in my garden. I swear…

Papaver Pod from above © Harold Davis

I think the Papaver gone to seed looks almost like a marine sea creature, perhaps more like a sand dollar than a flower!

Papaver Seed Stalks © Harold Davis

I photographed the specimens shown here on a black velvet background, and processed the images in Photoshop using my digital Karl Blossfeldt effect.

Papaver Seed Pod © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

Anthers in Love

Sometimes it is fun to get lost in the worlds of macro photography. Even the somewhat commonplace can become a different and intriguing universe. As in this conventionally lit, extreme close-up image of the anthers of an Asiatic Lily covered in pollen.

Anthers in Love © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Tulip Petal Detail after Karl Blossfeldt

Who knew that tulip stems could curl symmetrically with four looping branches? When I saw this, it reminded me of some of the flora photographed by Karl Blossfeldt. Blossfeldt’s original purpose was to present plant-world designs that could be used for ornamental architecture and ironwork, but of course his work has long since been recognized as far more profound than decorative.

I used a macro lens to capture the tulip petal detail, and used a post-production recipe that I had scripted this spring to simulate (or emulate) the look-and-feel of a Blossfeldt plate.

Tulip Petal Detail after Blossfeldt © Harold Davis

Some other images of mine that offer homage to Karl Blossfeldt: Decorative Grasses; Queen Anne’s Lace and Crassula ovata (both shown below).

Queen Anne’s Lace © Harold Davis

Crassula ovata © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Two from the iPhone files

Dogwood Flowers in a Bowl and Poppies and Echinaceas were both photographed with my iPhone camera. These were arrangements that were “collateral damage” to having flowers around from my garden and also cut from a flowering dogwood tree (see Garden Flowers with Dogwood). After photographing high-key bracketed exposures with my D850 on a tripod, I couldn’t resist also making a few quick iPhone shots shown here. Sometimes work thrown off casually just for fun stands up on its own!

Dogwood Flowers in a Bowl © Harold Davis

Both images were tweaked in Snapseed on my iPhone, then processed using the Antique Oil Painting Filter in the Photo Lab Pro app.

Poppies and Echinaceas © Harold Davis

Also posted in iPhone, Photography

Garden Flowers with Dogwood

This pair of images consists of a light box composition on white, and its LAB L-channel inversion on black. My thoughts are turning to Photographing Flowers for Transparency, as I am teaching my techniques this coming weekend.

Incidentally, if you can’t make the workshop this weekend, we’ve listed the 2019 Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop. It’s scheduled for the weekend of June 22-23, 2019 in Berkeley, California—and is now open for registration. Click here for more information and registration via Meetup.

Garden Flowers with Dogwood © Harold Davis

Garden Flowers with Dogwood (Inversion) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Passion of the Rose

For me, photography is about passion, vision, and seeing the world closely. Oh, I could give you some technical information about how this image was made. For example, I could explain that I used a telephoto macro lens and an extension tube, that I focus stacked, and that the rose was lit obliquely by late afternoon sun through a window.

The Passion of the Rose © Harold Davis

But beyond a certain point, who but specialists and practitioners really cares about this kind of thing? Does anyone much care what brush a painter like Georgia O’Keeffe used? We care about the raw seeing, the passion and the romance, and the feeling that the image arouses within. As we should. This is the stuff that matters.

Related image: Kiss from a Rose, shown on my blog here and here.

Also posted in Photography

Poppies Dancing on Black

This image is an LAB inversion of the L-channel of Poppies Dancing, with blacks and white interchanged.

Poppies Dancing Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photograms, Photography

Poppies Dancing

In the great light of the world flowers are creatures too, and love to sway and dance in the breeze. In extraordinary beauty there is humor and escape from the mundane of this world. With grief for Anthony Bourdain, a hero of mine: as someone who travels a great deal for creative work I can understand why it might have contributed to his feelings of dislocation and sadness. These flowers are for him.

Poppies Dancing © Harold Davis

Papaver © Harold Davis

Kissy Face :-X © Harold Davis

Anthropomorphization of flower arrangements is now a thing: Flower Car; Friendly Sky Dragon; Flying Dragon Study; Yum; Poppy Snake; Wet Poppy Bud. Well, for the most part these collages are not actually anthropomorphic—although there is a face or two. If you know the right word, please add a comment or drop me an email. Thanks.

Also posted in Photography

Petals on Parade

This is one of the light box compositions I’ve made using the glorious spring weather in northern California since I’ve been home from Spain!

Petals on Parade © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency: A new book from Harold Davis

We’re excited to announce a new book: The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency by Harold Davis.

 Of course, my new book will showcase many of my botanical images. In addition, there will be extensive material explaining my process for photographing flowers on a light box. There will be a section on post-production, including a detailed guide to using LAB color for inversions of white-to-black, and for creative color effects.

The is a serious book in terms of its pedagogy, as the techniques I use in my transparent floral work are useful in many aspects of digital photography.

There will also be technical notes for the images in the book explaining how I made each image.

It’s a great deal of fun writing and designing this book. I have been working on this project for many years, so it is very exciting to me to see it progressing (my new book will be available in 2019)!

The images paired below are of poppies and mallow from my garden, captured, processed and inverted using the techniques I explain in The Art of Photographing Flowers for Transparency. If you’d like to learn more about these techniques before my new book is available, please check out my FAQs: Photographing Flowers for Transparency and Using a High-Key Layer Stack.

Poppies and Mallows on Black (Inversion) © Harold Davis

Poppies and Mallows on White © Harold Davis

Also posted in Writing

Composition with Delphinium and Poppies

Composition with Delphinium and Poppies is a good example showing one of the organizing principles I teach in my Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop and my books. The first premise is that there needs to be an organizing principle in a light box image (or in any photograph, or any image, for that matter!).

Composition with Delphinium and Poppies © Harold Davis

Taking the idea that one needs a compositional organizational principle as a given, it is then possible to create a taxonomy of possibilities. These include roughly circular, spiral, color field, another kind of color fieldhorizontal panoramic view, vertical panoramic view, leading off the frame, crossing the frame, and more (an example of each is linked). I’ve even essayed a paint-splatter effect with flowers!

This image (the Composition with Delphinium and Poppies) epitomizes what is probably the most common botanical organization: relying on a single, unifying stalk, in this case the delphinium’s, underpinned by the distinctive delphinium green leaves.  You can find many examples of this organizing principle in my work

Of course, the poppies don’t really belong attached to the delphinium stalk, and for literal-minded folks who notice this might be a distraction. But for a general audience, from a compositional viewpoint, the literal truth of the real world doesn’t matter so long as the composition looks holistically plausible.

One other point is that this composition is built around a strong diagonal. The entire delphinium leads the eye up and out to the right of the frame. It is important in this style of composition to have directed movement of a portion of the composition that contrasts with the more static elements (the poppies). It’s also worth noting that I photographed the image with the delphinium pointing up and out to the left, and reversed the direction by flipping the image horizontally in post-production.

Also posted in Photography