Category Archives: Flowers

Matilija Poppies and Mallows

You got to love the Matilija Poppy, a California native, with its wonderful huge yellow center and puffy white petals. The poppies are of the Romneya genus (so are neither Papaver nor Eschscholzia), and grow on bushes from mid-California south into Mexico. In this image, I combined a central Matilija Poppy with some humble mallows, arranged in a crescent shape to create a subconscious sense of a circular sweep in the photo.

Matilija Poppy and Mallows © Harold Davis

Related stories: Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers; Mallows.

Also posted in Photography

Ladybird Poppy

Yesterday was a cool Father’s Day. I woke to freshly brewed coffee and cards from the kids. Then I went with Phyllis, my own wonder woman, to see the new Wonder Woman movie in 3-D. When we got home, this Ladybird Poppy from our garden had a new blossom, and I photographed it while listening to the Beatles. 

Papaver commutatum ‘Ladybird’ © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

A Quartet of Peonies

Peony Core © Harold Davis


Peony Sunrise © Harold Davis


Pink Peony © Harold Davis


White Peony © Harold Davis

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers

To create this design for a stained glass window, I started by laying down a series of mallow blossoms in a loose spiral (the magenta flowers). Next, I filled in the reverse portion of the spiral with “two-week” iris blossoms, using the three-pronged stamen of the flower as a radial sub-pattern. Finally, I filled in most of the white spaces with “tiger-striped” petals from the alstromerias in our garden. Other than the alstromerias (“Peruvian Lilies”), the pattern is made up of California natives!

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers © Harold Davis

To reverse the pattern on a black background (below), I inverted the L-channel in LAB. As I’ll teach in my upcoming Flower Photography Intensive here in Berkeley and in Maine the first week of August, my technique is to then apply a curve adjustment to bring up the petals selectively. Next, I convert back to RGB, and selectively paste in the LAB three-channel inversion using the Exclusion blending mode.

Design for a Stained Glass Window Made of Flowers (on Black) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photoshop Techniques

The Amazing World of Flowers

One of the things I love most about flower photography is that it compels one to look closely at flowers. The more you look, the more you see! What a wild world of beauty and diversity, with shapes, colors, forms that rival the world at large in light, rhythm, variety, harmony, and tumult.

Flower Petals © Harold Davis

Related story: Recent Flower Photos.

Rose Central © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Recent Flower Photos

I’m happy to take advantage of the wonderful spring flowers this year here in California, and make up for the time I was traveling with some extensive flower photography! Here are some flower images from the past few days, with more to come. Yay! I love flower photography.

Please keep in mind two upcoming flower photography workshops I will be giving: In Berkeley, CA Thursday June 22 – Sunday June 25 and in Rockport, Maine Sunday July 31 – Saturday August 5. Click here for my upcoming Workshops & Events calendar.

With a couple of these images (like the flower globes immediately below) to get the idea you really need to click the image to view it larger!

Great Balls of Flowers © Harold Davis

Dark Star © Harold Davis

Flower Power (via iPhone capture) © Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies – Variation I © Harold Davis

Matilija Poppies – Variation II © Harold Davis

Tower of Flowers © Harold Davis

May Flowers on Black © Harold Davis

Flowers for Luis (via iPhone capture) © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Home is Best…with Flower Photography

As the saying goes, “You may travel east, you may travel west, but in your heart you know home is best!” In the past two months, I have traveled east (Vietnam), and I have traveled west (France and Malta)—although arguably since the earth is a globe every place is west of California. Or east.

In any case, it is good to be home, particularly when spring and the flowers are so much in bloom as they are in Berkeley, California. I was home in time for Katie Rose’s birthday, and am enjoying spending some time with Phyllis and the kids, and recharging my batteries.

Gladiolas and Campanulas © Harold Davis

In this image, the gladiolas are from Trader Joe’s and the bellflowers (campanulas) from our garden. I used seven exposures with my D810 and Zeiss Otus 55mm/1.4 on a tripod over a light box. The exposures were all at ISO 64 and f/16, and ranged from 1/30 of a second to 4 seconds. I combined the exposures in Photoshop, and added them to a scanned background, using techniques that I explain in my workshops.

Enthusiastic about flower photography? You might want to consider joining us here in Berkeley, Ca next month for a joyous flower photography time where I will share my secret sauce techniques for transparent flower photography and beyond (we still have a few spaces left)!

Also note that I will be teaching related flower photography techniques this year at Maine Media Workshops the first week in August.

Also posted in Photography, Workshops

Tulips and a Clematis Vine

It’s wonderful to be back—if only for a brief while—in the flowering springtime of northern California. It’s always hard for me to resist spending some time photographing flowers, and today was no exception!

Tulips and a Clematis Vine © Harold Davis

Tulips and a Clematis Vine © Harold Davis

The Whole Magnolia Branch

This is the magnolia branch I brought home and used for macro photography practice in an image I showed earlier.

The Whole Magnolia Branch © Harold Davis

The Whole Magnolia Branch © Harold Davis

Composition of the entire branch was a bit of a challenge, and I’m glad I got this done and archived, because I won’t see my production machine for about a month—and by then my attention undoubtedly will be taken up by other subjects.

Magnolia Blossom

Wandering the paths and stairways of the Berkeley hills, I came upon a gardener shaping a venerable flowering magnolia tree. A largish branch lay on the ground. I asked if I could take it, and carried it home.

Magnolia Blossom © Harold Davis

Magnolia Blossom © Harold Davis

Generally, these flowers are hard to capture at the macro level outdoors because they tend to be high up, and are in motion in the slightest breeze. But indoors was a different story! I also enjoyed capturing the entire pattern of the branch on a black velvet background. The broader image will help provide a context, and I plan to process a sequence later today if I have time after packing before I leave for Vietnam.

White Rose Blushing in Color and Black and White

I thought this white rose with a hint of satin-like blush was going to look great in black and white, but when I processed it I saw that the color had some appeal as well. One of the great things about digital black and white is that you can have a “two-fer”: a color image and a monochromatic image. 

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush 2 © Harold Davis


White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White 2 © Harold Davis

I photographed this white rose using ambient sunlight with my 200mm f/4 Nikkor macro lens on a tripod, and a 18mm extension tube to get a little closer. Each image is a blended combination of six exposures, stopped down to f/32 and bracketed one EV apart for each exposure (by shutter speed).

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis

White Rose with a Blush © Harold Davis


White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

White Rose in Black and White © Harold Davis

Also posted in Monochrome

Harold Davis Presents Photographing Flowers for Transparency at School of Visual Arts Masters in Digital Photography

I’m pleased to share with you my presentation on Photographing Flowers for Transparency at New York’s School of Visual Arts in the Masters in Digital Photography program. Enjoy!

If for some reason the video of my presentation doesn’t load here, you can also watch it on YouTube!

Also posted in Photography

Cherry Branches

Cherry Branches for a wet and windy weekend! Phyllis brought these back from a neighborhood tree, and I photographed them using high-key HDR on a light box, then combined the images in Photoshop, and added a background. I hope you enjoy my image!

Cherry Branches © Harold Davis

Cherry Branches © Harold Davis

For some other cherry blossom images click on these stories: Cherry Blossoms; Cherry Blossom Special; and Cherry Blossoms on Skin. Searching my blog for “cherry” yields quite a few additional entries! Clearly a wet, early spring in Berkeley is a great time to photograph cherry blossoms, as I have done across a number of years.


In my garden in the rain the hellebores are in bloom. These lovely bell shaped flowers face downward in nature in a wide variety of colors and internal configurations.

Hellebore © Harold Davis

Hellebore © Harold Davis

It’s calming to photograph flowers and to realize that nature carries on. Flora worries on a different time scale about some of the things that make us fauna unhappy. These flowers have naturally selected for beauty, and there are worse things.

More Hellebores!

Also posted in Photography

Flower Power

Peace Symbol © Harold Davis

Peace Symbol © Harold Davis