Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Flowers on Black versus an Inversion

Orchids on Black © Harold Davis

Orchids on Black © Harold Davis

The image above, Orchids on Black, was created by photographing the flowers on a black background, with a bit of enhancement in LAB color. Flower Magic on Black, shown below, was photographed on a light box. The background of the image was converted from white to black using an LAB inversion of the L-channel.

Click here for my complete Creative LAB Color in Photoshop course, here for the FAQs on my website, and here for info about the 2020 session of the Photographing Flowers for Transparency workshop.

Special thanks to Jack and Ellen Anon.

Flower Magic on Black © Harold Davis

Flower Magic on Black © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Photoshop Techniques

2020 Photographing Flowers for Transparency Workshop with Harold Davis

Flowers for Transparency Workshop 2020

Please join us for the 2020 session of Photographing Flowers for Transparency with Harold Davis (June 20-21, 2020) to be held in Berkeley, CA. Click here for more information, and here for registration, or contact us for information or registration. Our experience is that this workshop, only given once annually, fills quickly!

Also posted in Workshops

Dryad and Dark Angel

Dryad © Harold Davis

Dryad © Harold Davis

Dryad and Dark Angel are in-camera multiple exposures using studio strobes and a black background, with some Photoshop post-production work. With Dryad (above), the model used the multiple exposures to intentionally form a tree-like shape. Later, in Photoshop, I added the exterior textures of branches of a tree to give the sense that the model was an exemplar of the divine spirit in a tree, or in other words, a Tree Goddess, a Dryad.

With Dark Angel (below), the wing-like effect around the model’s upper arms was creating when she moved a black, translucent fabric while making the exposures. I positioned her in the frame you can see in Photoshop.

Click here for more of my Multiple Exposure series. The beautiful model for Dryad and Dark Angel, Muirina Fae, was also in Avatar, Devotional Pose, and Vitruvian Woman.

Dark Angel © Harold Davis

Dark Angel © Harold Davis

Also posted in Models, Multiple Exposures

From the Archives

Almost Gone © Harold Davis

Almost Gone © Harold Davis

Photographed in 2006. Click here for the original blog story.

Creative Black and White Opportunities Webinar

The replay of my Creative Black and White Opportunities webinar is now available for viewing on YouTube. I had a bit of problem with managing the software, and got “out of the gate” a little slowly, but if you have patience with the webinar I think you’ll find some worthwhile ideas about creative monochrome.

This webinar was organized and sponsored by Rocky Nook, the publishers of my new book Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition. In this webinar, I discussed the monochrome vision, and tips and tricks related to digital black and white photography, and included material on LAB inversions, solarization techniques, the Karl Blossfeldt effect, and x-ray imaging.

My new book, Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, is now available. The publisher, Rocky Nook, is offering a 40% discount. Click here to buy Creative Black & White 2nd Ed directly from the publisher. Use the code “HDAVIS40” [no quotes] at checkout to apply the discount (you can also use my discount code for all other Rocky Nook books, by the way!).

Here are the links for my book on Amazon.com and on B&N as well, so the choice of supplier is yours, and here’s the link for the webinar replay on YouTube.

Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge (B&W) © Harold Davis

Under the Yaquina Bay Bridge © Harold Davis

Photoshop Backgrounds and Textures

Eiffel Tower with texture © Harold Davis

Regarding my LinkedIn Learning Photoshop Backgrounds & Textures course, a correspondent emails: “Thank you for making this topic so interesting. I’ve been accumulating photos of backgrounds and textures for years and have had very little success with using them in my composites. I now understand how they need to be tweaked with opacity and blending modes to get the effects I like….I think you are tops.”

Thanks! [blushing]

Check out my Photoshop Backgrounds & Textures course to easily add spice, interest, and artistry to your images. My online course is available from LinkedIn Learning a/k/a Lynda.com. 

Burning Off the Fog (texturized) © Harold Davis

Spoonerismo

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

Spoonerismo © Harold Davis

Looking at our sets of kitchen measuring spoons, with their patina and scratches from long use in a hard-working family kitchen, I noticed the pattern of concentric ovals, particularly when each set of spoons was positioned so that light hit the upper edge of each spoon, and was withheld from the concave interiors.

To control the light, and the reflections in the spoon interiors, we lined a large bucket with black velvet, creating a raised stage within the bucket, also on black velvet. This way I was able to control the light coming in across the measuring spoon sets. 

For both images I used a 100mm macro lens tripod mounted at f/22 and ISO 64. Each image is combined from eight exposures, with shutter speeds ranging from 1/4 of a second to 30 seconds.

Measuring Spoons © Harold Davis

Measuring Spoons © Harold Davis

Magic in Everyday Things

In the morning, Phyllis called me over. She had the vitamin bottle upended, looking inside for pills she noticed them on the circumference of the circle at the bottom spread out almost like a sparkling kaleidoscope.

Vitamin D3 Bottle from the Inside © Harold Davis

Vitamin D3 Bottle from the Inside © Harold Davis

To photograph the effect, Phyllis held the bottle up in the morning sun in our kitchen. I tripod mounted my camera, and used my macro probe lens, with the front optic pushed inside the vitamin bottle like an eyeball on a stalk.

There’s magic in everyday things! I’ve had guesses about what this photograph depicts ranging from the Eye of Sauron (in his cups, towards the bottom of the story) to an operating room light, a package of seeds, and an architectural dome. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Or is it?

Also posted in Monochrome

Playing with GIFs

Petal Pushing

I’m back at my old habits, building compositions constructed from flower petals on a light box, photographing the assemblage in high-key HDR, then combining for transparency in Photoshop, finally inverting using creative LAB color techniques.

Here’s where this composition started:

Circular Petal Composition © Harold Davis

Circular Petal Composition © Harold Davis

When I inverted the composition so it was on a black background, I got the image shown below. My son Julian told me I should turn it into an animated GIF, so I did (shown at the top of this story), using  Photoshop wire-frame animation.

Circular Petal Composition Inversion © Harold Davis

Circular Petal Composition Inversion © Harold Davis

Bailey Island, Maine

Like a narrow finger, Bailey Island extends into Casco Bay on the Atlantic coast of Maine. It’s connected to the mainland, some thirty miles away, via a narrow bridge of unusual construction to Orr Island, which serves to intermediate between Bailey Island and the outskirts of Brunswick, Maine.

Built in 1928, a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, this “cribstone” bridge is a lattice of granite stones held in place by gravity. The stone slabs, longer than they are wide, are laid horizontally, first lengthwise, and then crosswise, in several layers, so the load-bearing construction of the bridge is essentially woven of stone.

No mortar or cement is used. The granite slabs are heavy enough to withstand the forces of wind and waves, while the open cribbing allows the tide to ebb and flow freely through the bridge supports.

Bailey Island Bridge © Harold Davis

Bailey Island Bridge © Harold Davis

On Bailey Island itself, Giant’s Stair is notable as an impressive rock formation facing eastern Casco Bay. The land around the Giant’s Stair was donated as a park by a Bailey Island sea captain; the area stands as lonely sentinel to the forces of wind, wave, and geology as they are encroached upon by summer homes of Portland folk.

Giant's Stairs © Harold Davis

Giant’s Stairs © Harold Davis

The thing to eat on Bailey Island is, of course, lobster—and the working harbor holds snugly fishing trawlers, lobster-men, and pleasure craft. On the rise behind the harbor, second homes dot the vista, adding a contrast between the processing wharf shown in the lower left of my photo of the Bailey Island Harbor, and the presumably haute bourgeois lifestyle of the summer residents living in the homes on the upper right.

Bailey Island Harbor, Maine © Harold Davis

Bailey Island Harbor, Maine © Harold Davis

Coming down to a boatyard, I enjoyed photographing abstractions appearing in the hulls of boats out for maintenance. This one looks like a far country itself, with depth and delineation in the lines of the craft.

Hull Down © Harold Davis

Hull Down © Harold Davis

Clematis that Remains

This spiral structure is what remains when you don’t deadhead a Clematis flower, and leave it on the vine. You can see how the core of the flower has expanded into the spiral, and the petals have dropped away. The view below is from the underneath, or back; the front view, the top of what used to be the flower, is shown here.

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Monochrome

Free Webinar: Creative Black and White Opportunities

Please join me for a free webinar about Black and White creative opportunities. The webinar is scheduled for Tuesday August 29 at 11AM PT, with free registration on a first-come-first-served basis. Click here to register for my webinar, which is sponsored by Rocky Nook, the publishers of my new book.

In this webinar, I will discuss tips and tricks related to digital black and white photography, and will include material on LAB inversions, solarization techniques, the Karl Blossfeldt effect, and x-ray imaging.

My new book, Creative Black & White, 2nd Edition, is now available. The publisher, Rocky Nook, is offering a 40% discount. Click here to buy Creative Black & White 2nd Ed directly from the publisher. Use the code “HDAVIS40” [no quotes] at checkout to apply the discount (you can also use my discount code for all other Rocky Nook books, by the way!).

Here are the links for my book on Amazon.com and on B&N as well, so the choice of supplier is yours.

Click here to register for my webinar, which is sponsored by Rocky Nook, the publishers of my new book.

Also posted in Writing

Class Demo

At the end of the Garden Photography workshop this past week, I quickly arranged some flowers on an LED panel to demonstrate my Photographing Flowers for Transparency technique. This LED panel was the closest thing to a light box we could find, and was originally purposed as lighting, rather than a photographic surface. Which goes to show, improvisation is often crucial to artistic endeavors.

Class Demo © Harold Davis

Eye Dahlia

Eye Dahlia © Harold Davis

Sometimes individual flowers call out to me as so unique that I need to photograph them on their own. This rather small dahlia, photographed at the Endless Summer Dahlia Farm, made me think it I had an eye with a pupil in the center. I used my 50mm Zeiss macro with a 24mm extension tube, both on my tripod, to get close while rendering the detail well.

Also posted in Flowers