Category Archives: Photography

digital photography: techniques: thoughts: photographs

Artfully Random

I’ve stumbled into a new series of flower images. These images have in common the appearance of “artful randomness.”

They are supposed to seem casual and minimally arranged. But the fact is that I create these images from “the ground up” using both a scaffolding and an intermediate structural layer, so the appearance of randomness is just that—an appearance—and there is very little about these images that has been left to chance, whatever chance may be.

In art, I like to think, there are no accidents, only serendipity. To play fast and loose and improvise, first understand and master your craft!

If you like these images, also check out Joy of the World in Flowers, Glory of the Garden and Wilder Shores of Love.

Falling Flowers © Harold Davis

Iris Lattice © Harold Davis

Dancing with the Flower Stars © Harold Davis

Canopy of Flowers © Harold Davis

Butterfly Ranunculus and Friends © Harold Davis

Music of Irises and Poppies © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Translucent Flora: Photographs by Harold Davis

Translucent Flora: Photographs by Harold Davis is an exhibition at the San Francisco Botanical Garden Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture, June – September 2023

Join us for the Artists’ Reception on Sunday, June 11, 4-6pm

This beautiful new art exhibition features stunning botanical photographs by award-winning photographer and author Harold Davis. Using a special photographic technique, Harold Davis creates images of flowers and plants with an ethereal, translucent effect. The author of several books, his work is featured on two USPS Forever stamps. 

Visit for more info.

Flowers of Spring’s Desire © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Joy of the World in Flowers!

Having a number of teenagers and twenty-somethings in the house exposes me to some (understandable) pessimism about life, society, and the future. These are indeed strange times. We—and our kids—have experienced the pandemic, the coarsening of civic discourse, and the specter of global warming.

Joy of the World in Flowers © Harold Davis

But let’s not forget that where there is life there is hope. We have lived through difficult and tumultuous times before. There is such joy and beauty in the world, starting—for me—with the flowers from my garden, shown in this image. There are always things to make me happy. Seek beauty out in nature and gardens, look for it, and refresh your soul, because no matter what we face there is always much to celebrate.

Also posted in Flowers

Romantic Southwest France (April 27-May 5, 2024) – Destination Photo Workshop

We are pleased to announce our destination photo workshop to southwestern France in the spring of 2024.

Somewhere in “Deep” France © Harold Davis

Join a small compatible group of photographers in a 15th Century fortified farmhouse in the lush countryside of southwest France in the springtime. We will be hosted at the Mas de Garrigue, a 15th century fortified farm near the Lot River in the heart of romantic southwestern France. This is an area of gardens, gourmet French home cooking, ancient medieval villages and castles, and a photographer’s and walker’s paradise.

Trip includes many extras and excursions (see Itinerary for details), including the chance to photograph the famous Millau Viaduct.

  • This group is full. Please contact us to be added to the waiting list. Thanks for your understanding.
  • Sadly, Spring 2024 will be the last time we will be able to present this destination workshop to the Mas de Garrigue. This will be your last chance to join us for what has been an extraordinary workshop over the years.

Click here for the detailed Itinerary, and here for the Reservation form! Let us know if you have any questions.

Also posted in Workshops

Glory of the Garden

How wonderful to be photographing flowers from my garden at this time of year when the world comes to life and all the colors glow and are so glorious!

Glory of the Garden © Harold Davis

Glory of the Garden 2 © Harold Davis

Glory of the Garden 3 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Off-the-Beaten Track Japan Photography Adventure with Harold Davis

Step into the fabled Japan of myth and legend. Journey back in time to a Japan that few westerners are familiar with. Join a small group of compatible photographers led by Harold Davis and a professional guide for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. 

Buddha Samadhi, Tokyo © Harold Davis

This small and compatible group of photographers will meet at our hotel in Tokyo, Japan. After exploring the new and old sides of Tokyo, we’ll travel back in time through the Japanese Alps via the ancient Nakasendo way. We’ll visit well-preserved villages in the Kiso Valley, Matsumoto Castle, the castle town of Takayama, and the World Heritage site of Shirakawa-go. Following a stop in the culturally important city of Kanazawa, we will wrap up the destination photo workshop with a dreamlike visit to the gardens and temples of Kyoto, where the tour will end.

Nachi-san © Harold Davis

Regarding the ancient Nakasendo trail, our in-country partner writes:

Where will this path lead us? The town of Magome hugs the side of the mountain, and the Nakasendo Trail here is lined by inns, wood crafters, and small eating establishments. What waits beyond? The ancient signboards at the top of the town warn travelers the rules of travel with an admonishment to be on your best behavior in town. Now, as you head out of Magome, your journey really begins – views over mountain peaks give way to the ancient Nakasendo as it winds behind farmhouses and small shrines lovingly tended by their neighbours. You pass waterfalls, and stands of bamboo and you walk a section of old paving stones. The path is wide like a smile, welcoming you into the woods.Will you have long conversations with your friends, perhaps new, perhaps old? Will you listen as the cicadas or the crickets or the frogs sing to you?

Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker?

Click here for full details, and here for the Reservation form. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Panorama of the Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis

Panorama of the Kumano Sanzen Roppyaku Po © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Upcoming Exhibition | Translucent Flora: Photographs by Harold Davis

I’m excited about my upcoming exhibit at San Francisco Botanical Garden’s Helen Crocker Russell Horticultural Library. Please join me if you can for the reception on Sunday, June 11, 2023 from 4-6 pm (details below).

Rojasianthe Superba

This Rojasianthe superba, sometimes called “White Sunflower Tree,” was growing in the entry garden of San Francisco Botanical Garden, where (with permission) I cut this specimen.

The seeds of Rojasianthe were collected by a botanist on the slopes of a volcano in Guatemala, and sent to the garden to propagate. Currently, only San Francisco Botanical Garden and UC Berkeley grow this amazing specimen outside of its native habitat.

San Francisco’s moist, relatively warm, and sunny climate make it ideal for growing plants that are originally from cloud forests in subtropical high-mountain ecosystems, where these flora may be endangered in the wild.

Rojasianthe superba © Harold Davis

After cutting the specimen (special thanks to SFBG!) we brought it back to my studio across the Bay in Berkeley in water with a growing medium added. On the light box, I used six exposures with my Nikkor 85mm tilt-shift macro, each exposure at ISO 64 and an adjusted aperture of f/64. Shutter speeds ranged from 2/5 of a second to 13 seconds. The exposures were combined using Photoshop as explained here and here and placed on a virtual scanned-paper background as explained here.

Perhaps this image will be a print in my exhibition at San Francisco Botanical Garden’s Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture coming up in June, 2023.

Also posted in Flowers

Wilder Shores of Love

What is love? It is, of course, a “many-splendored” thing: supple, wonderful, wistful, and maybe all of these at once and maybe more. The passionate rush of dopamine when encountering the inamorata is not the same as the click of logical desire when the beauty of flowers from my garden becomes apparent, yet both feelings use the same nomenclature. Surely we should have an enhanced vocabulary, at least as many nuanced terms as some peoples are said to have around snow.

Wilder Shores of Love 2 © Harold Davis

The images in this series were made with flowers all in bloom right now in my garden, and photographed on my light box.

Wilder Shores of Love 1 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Peony as big as a platter

Peony as big as a platter © Harold Davis

I’m proud of our bush Peony. For a toddler—I planted it close to two years ago—it certainly produced a huge and beautiful flower. It’s hard to get a sense of the size from this image, but it is at least a foot in diameter. I am hoping there are more blossoms this year.

The version above was photographed on my light box, and processed as a high-key layer stack. The version below, on a black background, is an L-channel LAB inversion of the upper image.

Peony Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Nice Little Review of Composition & Photography

This is from the February 2023 issue of the PSA Journal:

“The first clue that you’re about to read a unique book is on the Table of Contents page where all the chapter titles are written at a 90 degree angle from the page numbers. From there, Composition and Photography begins its first chapter entitled ‘Expect the Unexpected.’

“As the pages and chapters continue, Davis presents the reader with an assortment of intriguing photos, explaining the concept of this type of composition, what led to his photographing the subject and why he was compelled to do so. By doing this, he urges the photographer to seek different angles in digital imaging. composing a photo, to be aware of positive and negative space, and to notice the symmetry – or the lack of it – in everyday subjects. While the text is compelling, the photographs are stunning and invite the reader to read even more.”

Click here to buy Composition & Photography (use the discount code HDAVIS40 for a 40% discount at checkout), here for Harold’s upcoming webinar Composition Masterclass, and here for information about Harold’s in-person Composition workshop in Maine in August.

Also posted in Workshops, Writing

Fantastic Iris and White Camellia

A great deal of our energy lately has gone into clearing my parents’ house to make it ready for sale. This is a thankless task and emotionally very difficult. Fortunately, we are almost done. But every time I think we’ve removed everything the house disgorges something new—this time a collection of small glass bottles, cowering in a corner.

I used these bottles to anchor some flowers from my garden, photographed with my 85mm tilt-shift macro on a white seamless background.

Fantastic Iris © Harold Davis

White Camellia © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers

Life and Death

This image is a composite of three photos: a scan from film of an image of a caribou skull that I made long ago on the north slope of Alaska’s Brooks Range; Animism, an in-camera multiple exposure made with a model in the studio (see the bottom image in Multiple Exposures and Models: Star of Brightness); and a version of Shell Spiral (in the eye sockets).

I’m not really sure what the image signifies, although of course I have been thinking a great deal lately about life and death, and what it all means. This image came together when I saw how the shapes of life (the model) fit together with death (the skull) as a composition, and the rest was just playing.

Life and Death © Harold Davis

Rose Pasta Rag

Fun to photograph things besides flowers on my light box! Rosettes of pasta are shown here, with an inner spiral added in Photoshop representing a reduction in the size of the overall image. The image on black (immediately below) is an L-channel inversion in LAB color of the original version (white background, bottom).

Rose Pasta Rag 2 © Harold Davis

Rose Pasta Rag 1 © Harold Davis

The Essence of Simplicity

A single blossom from my garden is apparently the essence of simplicity. The power of these images of flower blossoms relies on this apparent simplicity: you are supposedly looking at the whole blossom and nothing but the blossom against a straight black background. 

To the casual glance, the only real photographic control involves lighting. Simple as these compositions seem to be, they do depend upon attractive overall lighting.

Sometimes the apparently simplest things are the hardest to pull off. It would be a mistake to underestimate the craft that goes into these straightforward compositions.

Related images: Frilly Goddesses; Topography of Camellia.

Camellia ‘Pearl Maxwell Blush’ © Harold Davis

Camellia ‘Elizabeth Weaver’ © Harold Davis

Ranunculus on Black © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers