Category Archives: Flowers

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

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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

Papaver Rhoeas

What joy to come home to my family and garden in Berkeley, and find spring still in bloom! These are two Papaver rhoeas—corn poppies—from our garden. I photographed each on a light box, and then inverted them in LAB color. You can find some info on these techniques in my website FAQs, and there will be a great deal more in the new book that I am working on!

Papaver Rhoeas 1 Inversion © Harold Davis

Papaver Rhoeas 1 © Harold Davis

Papaver Rhoeas 2 © Harold Davis

Papaver Rhoeas 2 Inversion © Harold Davis

The variation between specimens from the same flower cluster is pretty amazing: each flower is different, just as every person differs from each other, even when there are close genetic similarities!

Also posted in Photography

Dandelion in Calvignac

Wherever I am, I cannot resist a nice dandelion! This one was in Calvignac, in the southwest of France.

Dandelion in Calvignac B © Harold Davis

Dandelion in Calvignac A © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms

From the median strip of nearby Arlington Avenue we clipped some branches from a beautiful, blooming apple tree. Arlington Ave is too busy for my taste, and one has to be careful of cars zooming by when one does this clipping business, but some of my best photographic subjects have come from this location—such as this cherry branch, and this blood-drawing thistle.

If you look closely, you’ll see a patch of lichen on the lower left of my light box arrangement. I particularly like this touch, because I feel it adds apparent verisimilitude to the composition.

Apple Blossoms Daze © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms on White © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms on Paper © Harold Davis

Apple Blossoms Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography

Oxalis

Oxalis is a modest plant, considered more weed than flower. The Oxalis shown here is Oxalis stricta, also known as yellow woodsorrel or sourgrass. In season, this Oxalis grows in profusion around here in vacant lots, underneath trees, and on hillsides. It’s quite edible, and great for chewing on with contemplation. When I am in “human cow” mode and chewing on my cud of Oxalis, it is pleasing that sourgrass does not really live up to its name. It is not sour, at least not so much.

Oxalis A © Harold Davis

Oxalis B © Harold Davis

Oxalis C © Harold Davis

Related recent images: Street Grasses, Decorative Grasses, and Blades of Grass.

Also posted in Photography

Garden Flowers with Proteus

Most of the flowers in this light box arrangement come from our garden, except the Proteus. We do have a beautiful Proteus bush in my garden—Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbons’—grown from infancy when my kids were also infants, to maturity now. But the Proteus in this image came from a store. The flower, that is, came from the store: not my kids!

Garden Flowers with Proteus © Harold Davis

Color Field of Flowers

Thanks for participating in my previous request for comments on Decorative Grasses and Blades of Grass. Today’s Which variation do you prefer? And, why? involves six images. What these variations have in common is the subject matter: the same floral arrangement was photographed in each.

Four of the images involve different processing of the full composition, with a version on white, an inversion on black, a version with a virtual “frame,” and a woodcut-like black & white version. I have presented these images as verticals.

The other two images, shown as horizontals, involve closer-in captures, with a different (stronger) magnification.

Which do you like best, and why? I particularly appreciate comments entered directly on the blog story (the comment box is below, or follow this link!). Thanks.

Color Field of Flowers on White © Harold Davis

Color Field of Flowers on White with a Deckled Edge © Harold Davis

Inverted Color Field of Flowers © Harold Davis

Black and White Field of Flowers © Harold Davis

Flower Friends © Harold Davis

Papaver Nudicaule © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photography