Search Results for: gaillardia

Kickstart an art book of botanical prints by Harold Davis

Phyllis and I have created many conventionally published photography books. Recently, we’ve become interested in the possibility of using new technology to create a hand made, limited edition art book, reminiscent of the botanical art of earlier centuries. You’ll find some of the details of our Botanique project below. We’ve turned to Kickstarter to, well, kickstart our project and help make it a reality—and if you are interested in our idea we’d greatly appreciate your support!

Easter Lilies, Dahlias, and a Gaillardia by Harold Davis

Easter Lilies, Dahlias, and a Gaillardia © Harold Davis

Project details: Botanique is an homage to the botannical art of the nineteenth century, and combines old and new craft and technology in the format of a handmade book presented on exotic surfaces. This project is conceived, designed, and fabricated by master photographer Harold Davis and well-known book designer Phyllis Davis.

The 9″ X 12″ book features 12+ plates on surfaces such as vellum, Washi rice paper, and pearlized metallic substrate. One extradinary feature is the double-wide pull-out of one of Harold Davis’s well known floral panoramas on Unryu “Dragon’s Breath” Washi Rice paper.

Botanique is presented in a presentation case suitable for display and includes a hand-signed and numbered colophon with information about the materials and processes used, as well as the edition information. The book is limited to 25 numbered copies (plus five artist’s copies).

Harold Davis states: “My wife Phyllis and I have collaborated on many successful bestselling photography books published conventionally. However, we both love using the latest technology along with the tradition of one-of-a-kind crafting, and have been experimenting with handmade art books. Botanique is a labor of love.”

Click here to view the Botanique project on Kickstarter.

About Kickstarter: If you are curious about Kickstarter, it is a “crowd-sourcing” platform for funding creative projects.  Kickstarter is powered by an all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands.

Some Harold Davis botanical images that will be in the art book: Check out Peonies mon amour, Red Poppies and White Irises.

Posted in Flowers

Purple Dahlias

I love to photograph dahlias—and, as I wrote in Photographing Flowers, it is “not for their good taste. Rather, I see these flowers as extravagant: wonderfully different from each other, and wild in their colors, shapes and exotic forms.”

Purple Dahlias by Harold Davis

Purple Dahlias © Harold Davis—Click to view larger

This time of year there are a great many dahlias to choose from, and it is great fun arranging and assembling them. I shot this image of purple dahlias intending it to look a bit like a botanical illustration as well as a photo—and thus to accompany Peonies mon amour, Red Poppies, Easter Lilies, Dahlias, and Gaillardia, and White Irises (among others!).

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Falling Flowers

Falling Flowers © Harold Davis

For a shot like this to work, everything has to fall into place. In a brief intermission between taking care of Katie Rose (she was napping) and getting a book proposal out the sun came out. Reconnoitering, I saw light glistening on a wet spider web (it had been raining earlier).

I got out my big, honking 200mm macro lens and mounted it on tripod via the lens collar. I added an extension tube between the lens and camera, and a +4 close-up filter at the end of the lens. Then I shot straight down on the web, with a Gaillardia (native American blanket flower) reflected and refracted in the water drops.

If you liked this image, you might also like Orbit; Interstitial; my Water Drops category on this blog; my Flickr Water Drops set.

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops



Orbit, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Head down and hard at work on a new book project, it was fun this morning to take a break. My break coincided with a break in the weather—so I got to photograph these beautiful water drops orbiting in the space around the flower that is their sun.

A couple of related stories with images of flowers reflected and refracting in inidividual water drops: Gaillardia Drop; Passion in a Drop.

Briefly noted: My book Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques is number one in the black and white photography book category on Amazon. Thanks to everyone who helped make this possible.

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Purple Flower Dance

Purple Flower Dance

Purple Flower Dance, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: Like Gaillardia Gone to Seed, this is a flatbed scan, using a black velvet cloth taped into position as the background. For this kind of image, the resolution I can obtain from a decent flatbed scanner is fantastic compared to the best my camera can do—but, of course, there is very little depth and no control of depth-of-field.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Fourth of July Rose

Fourth of July Rose

Fourth of July Rose, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: For a special project I needed macro photos of flowers showing selective focus. I photographed this Fourth of July rose in high contrast late afternoon sunlight, with low depth-of-field and the focus on the core of the flower.

I intentionally underexposed by one EV (exposure value) so that I could get the almost ominous effect in the background, slightly out-of-focus petals. To draw attention to the center of the flower, I lightened this part of the photo with several lighter conversions brought in from camera RAW and layered in Photoshop. In post processing, I also selectively sharpened the center of the image (without sharpening the out-of-focus flower petals, which would have led to unfortunmate results).

Related stories: Gaillardia Lit from Behind, Fourth of July Rose.

[Nikon D300, Zeiss Macro 100mm f/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* Manual Focus Lens (150mm in 35mm terms), 1/640 of a second at f/4 and ISO 200, hand held.]

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Software Review: Fluid Mask 3

When you use Photoshop, nothing is more important than the ability to make selections. As a simple example, when you want to make a composite by moving a person from one background onto another, you need a way to select the person—in other words, to tell Photoshop which pixels you want to move. Besides this kind of large-scale selection, selection is used on a much smaller scale in Photoshop to control the areas you want to change in an image, and for a variety of other reasons.

Since you need to be able to select in Photoshop, Photoshop provides a number of nifty selection tools. These include a Magic Wand Tool, and the ability to select on the basis of color range. But it is a sad fact of life for Photoshop addicts like me that we spend much of our life on time consuming and tedious hand selections. The task is made even more difficult by the issue of edge treatment. The edges of a selection should usually be blended using a gradient effect, or your selection will appear jagged and unnatural.

It’s not intuitively obvious, but making a selection in Photoshop is logically equivalent to creating a layer mask. Both selections and layer masks are stored as grayscale information. If you have a selection, you can convert it to a layer mask (I’ll explain how in the course of this review); going the other way, it’s easy to convert a layer mask to a selection (by applying the layer mask). For the real technophiles among my readers (I was almost going to say “alpha geeks” but restrained myself), a layer mask is the same thing as an alpha channel. Hmmm! Selection = Layer Mask = Alpha Channel.

My preference is to work with layers and layer masks because this is a more flexible option than working with a selection cut out on a single layer. But to get the layer mask I need, I often have to start with a complex and time consuming selection.

With this background in mind, I tried out Fluid Mask, a Photoshop plugin (it also runs in standalone mode) from Vertus that is supposed to ease the pain of selecting. Read on for an overview of how the software works, and for my evaluation.

Gaillardia on Black

View this image larger.

The flower you see above on black, a Gaillardia, was originally on a busy green background (because I photographed it in my cramped side garden). The original image following RAW processing is shown below with the background I wanted to replace.

As a first try with Fluid Mask, I decided to try selecting the flower to cut it out and put it on a black background. But before I show you how this worked, I need to make a disclosure. Disclosure: Vertus provided me with the Fluid Mask software for free, as well as some complimentary individual training (but see the note below about the availablity of free online training for anyone).

Once Fluid Mask has been installed, you’ll find it as a menu item on the Photoshop Filters menu (at the bottom of the menu items, along with any other third-party plugins you may have installed). With an image open in Photoshop, when you fire up Fluid Mask, Photoshop temporarily closes (“to save resources”) and the Fluid Mask window shown below opens. Note: As a matter of general Photoshop practice I’d advise creating a duplicate layer before invoking Fluid Mask.

Fluid Mask drew blue lines on this image, indicating the edges that its automated analysis found. (You may need to look closely at the screen capture to see these lines.) The basic Fluid Mask idea is to draw on your image using three different colored brushes. Green means that you are keeping the area, red means that you are throwing the area away, and blue is used for an edge that needs to be treated specially. Here’s how this might look on a corner of the Gaillardia image:

So, this was my first solo flight with Fluid Mask, and I didn’t get everything quite right. While the Gaillardia is really a pretty easy selection problem, to do a good job using the normal Photoshop tools would have taken me an hour or two. In Fluid Mask, it was about five minutes. But I did cut too much out of the flower interior by mistake, as you can see by comparing this cut out with the original or final versions:

When I applied and saved my work, Photoshop opened back up, and I was able to quickly fix my botch. I converted my selection to an alpha channel (layer mask) by clicking in the thumbnail in the Layers palette with the Apple key held down (Option key in Windows), and then clicking the little alpha channel icon on the bottom of the pallette (third from left, you can see this in the capture below). Then I added a black layer between my original flower and its masked duplicate. A reveal-all layer mask on the black layer allowed me to “paint-in” the few small areas from my original that I had missed in Fluid Mask. All this took about two minutes.

Bottom Line
I recommend this product. I expect to use it every time I have a reasonably complex masking or selection challenge, and I’m sure that I’ll become a more skilled user over time. For me, owning this product is a no-brainer. (o:

Pros: Greatly speeds selecting and leads to better quality selection.

Cons: Complicated to learn, without an adequate manual. The good news: online interactive tutorials are available free five days a week.

Product details: Downloads from Vertus cost $239 (in the US) for either Windows or the Mac.

Posted in Photoshop Techniques, Software Reviews

Zeiss 100mm f/2 Macro Lens

Gaillardia, Papaver, and Iris

Gaillardia, Papaver, and Iris, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

Briefly noted: I bought a Zeiss Macro 100mm f/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* Manual Focus Lens to use with my Nikon D300 and experimented with some flowers. This is a remarkable lens with its precise focus, brilliant color rendering, and delicious bokeh.

Not, however, for the faint of heart. It’s heavy, expensive, and completely manual. Even thinking of auto-focusing this grand piece of glass would be sacrilege. The lens is made by Zeiss in Japan, but the documentation explains that the optical technology was developed for the movie industry.

To get exposure settings to work on the D300 in Aperture-preferred or Manual mode (forget about fully Programmed automatic), you need to create a non-CPU lens listing with the focal length and aperture of the lens. You can enter this info using the Non-CPU Lens Data item on the Tools menu of the camera. If you have multiple non-CPU lenses that you use, you can program the Function button (not normally used for much else) to allow you to use the Command Dial to switch between your non-CPU lenses. In other words, if you don’t tell the camera about the lens, it doesn’t know anything about it (unlike the lenses from Nikon and other 3rd party vendors that speak directly to the camera-that-is-a-computer).

Unbearable Lightness of Iris

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Do Flowers Dream?

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[Each image: Nikon D300, Zeiss Macro 100mm f/2 ZF Makro-Planar T* Manual Focus Lens, four combined exposures from 1/2 of a second to 2 seconds at f/22 and ISO 100, tripod mounted. Bottom image is inverted to create the black background and post-processed in Photoshop.]

Posted in Bemusements, Flowers, Photography

Day Lily in Morning Dew

Day Lily in Morning Dew

Day Lily in Morning Dew, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

In the early morning, in a shady nook in my garden, I found this day lily in the morning dew.

At the close macro range of this photo, it’s hard to get all the flower in focus even with the lens fully stopped down. So I combined six different captures in Photoshop. Each capture had a different point of focus.

I’ve dubbed this technique HFR. You can read more about the technique, and see other examples, in High Focal Range (HFR), Red Flowering Dogwood Blossom, and Gaillardia x grandiflora. Overall, if done right, you can use this technique to get a subtle three dimensional effect, but not so 3-D that it is disturbing in the way those 3-D spectacles in the movies were.

[Nikon D300, 200mm f/4 macro lens (300mm in 35mm terms), 36mm extension tube, six captures combined in Photoshop, each capture using a shutter speed of 1.6 seconds at f/40 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Flowers, Photography, Water Drops

Iris on Black

Iris on Black

Iris on Black, photo by Harold Davis. View this image larger.

This is an Iris ensata ‘Azuma-kagami’, from the same planting as my photo of last spring. I used the same technique as Falling in Love and Gaillardia x grandiflora, combining three exposures and painting them together using layers and masks.

[Nikon D300, 200mm f/4 macro lens (300mm in 35mm terms), three exposures with shutter speeds from 1/4 of a second to 2 seconds, all exposures at f/36 and ISO 100, tripod mounted.]

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Pink Rose

I photographed this pink rose from our garden with the same setup and technique as Gaillardia and Iris ensata ‘Azuma-kagami’.

Related images: Rose Studies, Quartet of Roses, my Rose set on Flickr.

Posted in Flowers, Photography

Digital Photograms

Here are two more digital photograms of the gaillardia ‘fanfare’: one in red and one in blue. Enjoy!

Blue Gaillardia

View this digital photogram larger.

Posted in Flowers, Photograms, Photography, Photoshop Techniques

Photograms for the Digital Era

I photographed this gaillardia on a white background and, as with the bougainvillea bract, used LAB color modality in Photoshop to tinker with the hues and saturation. I think the effect is a digital-era version of a Man Ray rayograph, which are also called photograms.

Posted in Flowers, Photograms, Photography, Photoshop Techniques