Category Archives: Photoshop Techniques

It Starts with a Photo

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 3 © Harold Davis

Actually, in this case it starts with an arrangement on my light box, and eight high-key HDR exposures recombined in Photoshop. The resulting image is shown immediately below.

Stars of Petals © Harold Davis

An LAB L-Channel inversion puts the image on a black background, like so:

Stars of Petals on Black © Harold Davis

From here, it was time to play with post-production, using rotations, horizontal and vertical reversals, a variety of Photoshop blending modes, and more LAB processing. Which variation do you like best?

Stars of Petals Calligraphic Variation © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 1 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 2 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 4 © Harold Davis

Stars of Petals on Black Variation 5 © Harold Davis

Also posted in Patterns, Photograms, Photography

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 Flowers

LAB Adjustments Rule!

To make this image, I placed a ring of small, blue Lobelia flowers from the garden on a light box. Next, I surrounded it with a ring of chamomile flowers, which have white petals and a slightly yellowish interior. In the center I placed a glass purple heart. The original version is shown second from the top, with the other variations created in Photoshop using LAB color channel adjustments.

If you’d like to learn how I use LAB color creatively for effects like these, check out my Advanced LAB Color Seminar on Saturday, November 12, 2016. Note that a free book give-away and an early-bird special discount both apply until July 31, 2016.

© Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation B © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation E © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation E © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation D © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation D © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation F © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation F © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation C © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation C © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation AA © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation AA © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation A © Harold Davis

Heart Ringed with Flowers Variation A © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops

Handsome Gargoyle Devil and the Pinhole Effect

A gargoyle is a carved grotesque, with (sometimes) the practical function of serving as a down spout for rain, and often the emotional purpose of warding off evil spirits. The world’s most famous gargoyles are those on the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris—which, however, are probably as much due to the Gothic romanticist architect Viollet-le-Duc as they are to historical veracity and antiquity. When Viollet-le-Duc reconstructed Notre Dame in the 1860s, it was tumbling down and virtually abandoned. Violett-le-Duc’s renovation was strongly inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame—a work of romantic fiction not particularly based in historical realities.

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Gargoyle © Harold Davis

Whatever the historical authenticity of the Notre Dame gargoyles, they are a marvelous subject for photography, and a “must see” on any first visit to Paris, particularly if you have kids with you (my fourteen-year-old son Nicky joined me for my last visit to Paris in the spring, so I got a refresher in all things gargoyle, and hot chocolate as well!).

The first cameras were pinhole cameras. Pinhole cameras don’t have a lens.  Instead of a lens, light passes through a tiny hole; the light passing through this hole forms the image inside the camera. A camera obscura is a large pinhole camera where light passes through a tiny hole—the smaller the hole, or aperture, the sharper the image—and is projected on the back wall of an otherwise dark room.

The projected image is upside down, but perspective and other characteristics are preserved, so a camera obscura can be used to create detailed drawings that are accurate representations of scenes.

The first camera obscura was created by Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham in the eleventh century. In the west, the optics of the pinhole effect were imported from the Arab world, and understood as early as the fifteenth century Renaissance (they were described by Leonardo da Vinci and others). The use of the optical pinhole effect in the camera obscura was one of the key discoveries leading up to the invention of photography; if you get the chance, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a large camera obscura, found in public parks in a number of major cities (adjacent to Seal Rocks in San Francisco).

I processed my image of this gargoyle as a demonstration of the post-production pinhole effect (adding the pinhole look-and-feel in the Photoshop darkroom rather than in the camera) for my forthcoming book The Photographers Black and White Handbook. The result is a blend of the Nik Silver Efex Pinhole preset (70%) and the Topaz B&W Effects Pinhole (30%).

Also posted in Monochrome, Paris, Photography

Negative-for-Positive Funhouse Fun

This is a photo of the Hall of Mirrors in Prague in the Czech Republic. To create the negative-for-positive effect—which is somewhat like looking at a film negative rather than a print positive—in Photoshop I converted the image to LAB color, then applied an adjustment to invert the L-channel. You can click here to see the original Hall of Mirrors image.

Hall of Mirrors LAB Inversion © Harold Davis

Hall of Mirrors LAB Inversion © Harold Davis

Also posted in Czech

Three Graces

The Three Graces are actually a three-in-one trinity: this is one model (Anastasia Arteyeva), via an in-camera multiple exposure.

Three Graces © Harold Davis

Three Graces © Harold Davis

Processed for the distinctive—almost cave painting look—using the Da Vinci filter in the Topaz Impression plug-in.

Related image (same model): And now for something completely different.

Also posted in Models, Multiple Exposures, Photography

Free Webinar: Creative Floral Photography with Harold Davis

What: A Free Webinar. Join Topaz Labs for an exciting session as Harold Davis shows how he uses Topaz plug-ins to enhance his well-known botanical photos.

When: Tuesday, Jul 21, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM PDT, at your computer or mobile device.

Registration: The webinar is free, but you must preregister using this link.

Flowers of Spring's Desire  © Harold Davis

Flowers of Spring’s Desire © Harold Davis

Description: Harold will demonstrate his full workflow, from photo to finished art, incorporating his favorite Topaz programs and how he uses the plug-ins both as tools and endless creative opportunities. Harold’s session will help you learn to make the most from Topaz Adjust, Impression and Simplify in the context of your photography, and explore options for using Topaz in the process of coming up with your own creative style. There will be time for Q&A at the end of the session.

Bonus Feature: Topaz will be announcing Topaz and Focal Press (the publisher of Harold’s forthcoming book, Achieving Your Potential As a Photographer) coupon codes during the session and sending the coupons to all registrants after the session.  Topaz will also be giving away 2 full Topaz Collections (16 programs) and 2 books by Harold Davis courtesy of Focal Press.

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

About Harold: Harold Davis is a well-known photographer, the author of many bestselling photography books, and a popular workshop leader. He is an Adobe Influencer, a Moab Master, and a Zeiss Lens Ambassador.

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Workshops

A Short Course in Translucency

Images that verge on the transparent and convey translucency can appear miraculous. If you want to learn my techniques for photographing flowers for transparency on a light box, but can’t attend an in-person workshop with me on the topic, please consider my sequence of informal webinar recordings.

Painting in Transparency Using a High-Key Layer Stack explains the photographic strategy and post-production (click here to register, and click here for more info).

01-title

Creative Use of LAB Color shows some of the techniques I use to add color effects, to invert the backgrounds from white to black, and more (click here to register, and click here for more info).

01-title-LAB

Using Backgrounds and Textures explains many of the techniques I use to create finished artwork from translucent images (click here to register, and click here for more info) by placing a translucent image on a background, or adding a texture file “above” the image.

01-title

Finally, if you are having a little trouble around working with layers in Photoshop, Photoshop Layers 101 may be for you (click here to register, and click here for more info) as I guide you and explain how I work with layers in Photoshop. It is really a great deal simpler than you may think!

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Each webinar recording costs $19.95 for unlimited access. Please click here for more information about my webinar recordings.

If you are unfamiliar with my techniques, my FAQ explaining Photographing Flowers for Transparency is a good place to start.

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Translucency of Rosa © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Workshops

Miraculum Flores

Flowers are a miracle! This is a spring in Berkeley, California that is wondrous in terms of blossoms, and I have been enjoying it and photographing up a floral storm, almost entirely with flowers Phyllis and I harvest in the neighborhood. The top image is an LAB L-channel inversion, and the middle image is simulated black and white infrared (“ultrarubrum” in Latin)—both images derived in post-production from the “straight” light box image at the bottom. More on these techniques in this earlier sequence of images of a lone Clematis, and more floral imagery to come when I have time to develop and process it.

Miraculum Nigrae Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Nigrae Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Nigrae Flores Ultrarubrum © Harold Davis

Miraculum Nigrae Flores Ultrarubrum © Harold Davis

Miraculum Flores © Harold Davis

Miraculum Flores © Harold Davis

Also posted in Flowers, Photography

Clematis

To photograph this Clematis Bee’s Jubilee blossom, I placed it on a light box and photographed it straight down using a tripod with a Nikon D810 and my special Zeiss Otus 55mm f1.4 lens. The settings were 1/4 of a second at f/16 and ISO 64 (middle image). The top image is an LAB inversion of the L-channel, and the bottom version is simulated infrared (IR), via Nik Color Efex Pro.

Clematis on Black  © Harold Davis

Clematis on Black © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis © Harold Davis

Clematis in IR  © Harold Davis

Clematis in IR © Harold Davis

There seems to be some controversy about where to apostrophate  (where to place the possessive apostrophe) in Clematis Bee’s Jubilee. Well-known horticultural nursery White Flower Farm does it Bees’ Jubilee, which of course implies that this flower is the jubilee of multitudinous bees or of someone named Mr. Bees. However, the plural apostrophization may be incorrect, as this striking flowering Clematis seems to be named after the botanist Rupert Bee (spelled without a trailing ‘s’) of Colchester in the United Kingdom, who first introduced this cultivar in the 1950s.

Related story: We are not afraid of color.

Also posted in Flowers, Photography

We are not afraid of color

I photographed these flowers on my light box using the bright and sharp Zeiss Otus 85mm lens, then created a number of variations in Photoshop. The colors in flowers give me a palette to experiment with saturation and contrast, and I herewith proclaim: Bring it on! I love color!

We are not afraid of color © Harold Davis

We are not afraid of color © Harold Davis

Patterns in the Zeitgeist © Harold Davis

Patterns in the Zeitgeist © Harold Davis

Flowers are the jungle © Harold Davis

Flowers are the jungle © Harold Davis

Beyond the blue light  © Harold Davis

Beyond the blue light © Harold Davis

Solarized Flowers © Harold Davis

Solarized Flowers © Harold Davis

If you are interested in my flower photography techniques both in the camera and in post-production, there are still a few spots left in my Creative Flower Photography workshop at Maine Media in Rockport, Maine this coming August (2015). This is a five-day workshop that will cover light box photography, creative field flower photography, and Photoshop techniques.

Related story: An Amazing Amalgamation of Anemones.

Also posted in Flowers, Photography, Workshops

Inversions (and lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!)

From the humble Echinacea photographed for its delicate petals, the miracle of LAB channel inversions and adjustments leads straight to the drug-crazed and colorful versions you see here (just as they used to think soft drugs led to harder ones). Poppies will put them to sleep, and their little dog too! Even though the Echinacea is a simple, calming herb, and it is certainly no relative of Morpheus or his fearsome descendants.

Echinacia Inversion © Harold Davis

Echinacea Inversion © Harold Davis

I plan to print these images as a quadtych. In other words, four images, with the original Echinacea and the three shown here.

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

Inversion in Blue © Harold Davis

What a great word “quadtych” is! Almost as nice as “quidditch.” I often create sequences using the creative power of LAB, and these seem like a natural for printing quadtychs—and even pentaptychs and hexaptychs!

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

Inversion on white © Harold Davis

Also posted in Photograms

LAB Color Adjustments

I’m often asked what I mean by LAB color adjustments, so I thought I’d show a simple set. These adjustments are based on a likely suspect, the succulent from my front porch I shot in September. The image is shown in its original version in the linked story (check out the color version) and at the bottom here. The LAB color adjustments I used are shown in the caption of each version. Incidentally, these adjustments are pretty thoroughly explained in The Photoshop Darkroom; you can also download the Photoshop action I wrote to generate this set of adjustments.

Succulent-LAB-All Channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-All Channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-L-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-L-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent - LAB A-channel equalization-inverted © Harold Davis

Succulent – LAB A-channel equalization-inverted © Harold Davis

Succulent - LAB A-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent – LAB A-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-B-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB-B-channel equalization © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB A-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent-LAB A-channel inversion © Harold Davis

Succulent, original version  © Harold Davis

Succulent, original version © Harold Davis

A Rorschach for MFA’s

This image, with the working title Gates after Rodin, shows one model many times. The model, Jacs Fishburne, is a self-described “tornado disguised as a woman.” In the studio, Jacs was posing on a large metal hoop, sometimes called a Lyra. The Lyra was suspended by two ropes about six feet above the ground, with a black background. For some of the exposures Jacs was kneeling on the ground “holding up” the Lyra.

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

Gates after Rodin © Harold Davis

To make the image, I shot five in-camera multiple exposures, with Autogain turned on so that each multiple exposure was properly calibrated. Each of the multiple exposures consisted of five to eight individual shots, with Jacs changing her pose between each one. I used basic studio lighting for an even, consistent look and my D800 with the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4.

I then combined the in-camera multiple exposures in Photoshop, using both stacking and selectively pasting bits from various versions in using layers and masking. By some ways of counting, this makes for a total of somewhere between 25 and 40 different captures of Jacs, when you multiply the number of files by the number of times she appears in each.

Before finishing the image by adding a texture, I retouched out the ropes from above holding the Lyra, leaving the circular Lyra mostly in place.

A friend writes: “It brings up associations with five or six classic paintings from earlier eras. I see the Winged Victory of Samothrace on the left, and the hand of the Sphinx on the center right. Cardinal Richelieu is in the center. The face in profile at the upper left comes from something I can’t quite place and the depictions of hell by the famous Dutch painter What’s-His-Name are at the bottom [Hieronymus Bosch]. And then there’s the hint of the sumi-e circle of light again [the Lyra]. It’s like a Rorschach for MFA’s! ”

My own association is with Rodin’s Gates of Hell. I saw a casting in the garden at the Rodin Museum in Paris this spring. Maybe the memory of the Gates was lurking in my subconscious, waiting for a chance to emerge!

Related story: Multiple Exposures.

Also posted in Abstractions, Models, Multiple Exposures, Photography

Creative Photoshop Fun Day

Registration and information for the Creative Photoshop Fun Day with Harold Davis (Saturday, September 13, 2014)

I often get asked about my Photoshop techniques in the course of a workshop. In a general workshop that involves photography there just isn’t enough time to cover the vast multitude of creative Photoshop techniques that you can use in depth. This workshop will provide a one-time opportunity to do that exploration of Photoshop: both as a creative medium, and as an artistic partner with digital photography.

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

High-Key Tulips © Harold Davis

I will also work with each participant to develop their personal Photoshop style and to process one or more of their own images using the techniques demonstrated in this workshop.

Let’s spend a fun day together playing in Photoshop! We’ll work with layers, masking, textures, backgrounds, selections, filters, LAB color, and more. There will be time for image review, and for helping participants with individual creative projects.

The focus will be on creating an individual Photoshop workflow that is fun and that energizes. Take your Photoshop creativity to the next level!

Church at Auvers © Harold Davis

Van Gogh’s church at Auvers-sur-Oise © Harold Davis

Registration: http://www.meetup.com/Harold-Davis/events/186153022/

Prerequisites:  Participants are expected to know how to use their computers and to have (at a minimum) a basic knowledge of Photoshop. Please contact us with any questions about whether you have the appropriate background for this workshop.

Davis- The Way of the Digital PhotographerSuggested advance reading/viewing: The Way of the Digital Photographer and the Harold Davis Photoshop webinar recordings.

What to bring: Please bring a laptop with Photoshop installed and some of your images that you would like to work on. The following software is also suggested (but not required): the Nik Collection, Topaz Adjust and Topaz Simplify.

When: Saturday, September 13, 2014 from 9AM to 6PM, with an hour break for lunch.

Where: The workshop is hosted in Berkeley, California, in a convenient location near the upscale Fourth Street shopping district and close to the University Avenue exit from I80.

Tuition: $295 per person. Workshop is limited to a maximum of 16 participants.

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Flowering Quince by Moon © Harold Davis

Also posted in Workshops