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Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0240820736
ISBN-10: 0240820738
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Exclusive: A Letter from Harold Davis, Author of Photographing Flowers

Harold Davis

Dear Amazon Readers:

I love flowers, and I have always been passionate about photographing them. Flowers are uniquely beautiful, wonderfully colorful, and exhibit an elegance of line with a grace and style that is unique.

My house is certainly no Giverny, but like Claude Monet and other artists such as the expressionist Emil Nolde, I grow flowers and use them in my work. I’m also okay with photographing flowers from the supermarket. I sometimes quip that one good thing about photographing flowers is that you don’t need to get them to sign a model release.

As someone whose professional work includes shooting beautiful women and exotic landscapes, I can tell you that there is nothing I’d rather photograph than flowers. So, first, and foremost, Photographing Flowers is a collection of my best floral photography. But it is also a technique book. In my book, I show you how I go about capturing flowers, starting with ideas and conception, and continuing through to the digital photography itself. I’ll also show you the techniques I use to post-process and finish my flower photos in the digital darkroom.

Want to know more about macro lenses and how to use them? Then this is the book for you. Along the way I explain some important points about flower botany, and how flower sexuality works. You’ve heard of “the birds and bees, flowers and trees,” right? Well, from the photographer’s viewpoint, it’s a little different than you might think!

Photographing Flowers also includes the specifics of many of my special photographic techniques, including rendering flowers for translucency using a lightbox, and photographing on a dark, velvet background. In the digital darkroom, I’ll show you how to create monochromatic flower images, and how to make photos of flowers that look as if they might have been painted by Georgia O’Keeffe or Vincent van Gogh.

I truly hope you enjoy Photographing Flowers as much as I’ve enjoyed creating it.

Best wishes in photography,

Harold Davis

Images and Stories from Photographing Flowers [Click on Images to Enlarge]

Photographing Flowers

Cycle of Life

Left: This is a shot of corn poppies (Papaver rhoeas) in my garden in early June. Many people do not know that “poppies” have their name because the flower literally pops out of its pod. This action takes place surprisingly quickly, and it can be a challenge to capture it photographically! The poppy in the center of the photo is mature, but the one to the upper right has just bloomed, shedding its delicate pod cover onto the petals of the more mature flower. The entire life cycle is compressed in this photo, but the pace of the action as it is captured seems languid and dreamy.

Photographing Flowers

Poppies and Irises

Right: This image of red poppies and irises combined flowers from my garden (the poppies) and a bunch purchased at the store (the irises). I arranged the flowers carefully on a light box, then shot straight down, aiming for a high-key (overexposed) effect. Using a tripod to keep the composition in synch, I shot ten exposures with my 50mm macro lens. Each exposure was made at f/11 and ISO 100, with shutter speeds between two seconds and 1/50 of a second. To get the results shown, I started by processing the brightest exposure first (the one shot at two seconds), and then pasted in details from the darker exposures in successive layers, using Photoshop layers and layer masks.

<Photographing Flowers

Summer Rain

Left: Following an unusual summer rain storm, the garden was heavy with waterdrops in the fragrant, still air. To capture these reflections of geranium blossoms, I used a telephoto macro lens (200mm) combined with a 36mm extension tube, and waited until the branch was absolutely still to make my capture.

Photographing Flowers


Right: With four kids, the bathroom in our old house could certainly use a facelift. But one nice feature is the frosted glass in the bathroom door, which has often caught my photographer’s eye. This frosted pane in the upper half of our bathroom door was probably added in the 1940s or 1950s. I found myself wondering what it would be like to photograph a flower through the glass. To try this out, I taped a Zinnia behind this glass, opened the door to maximize the light on the flower, and then set up my camera on a tripod. I used a 50mm macro lens to shoot the flower through the glass. This is a neat, impressionistic flower image that required no special fancy tools, or lighting beyond that available anywhere! If you keep your eyes open and look around you, you can find many floral photographic opportunities in unexpected places that can yield startling and exciting results without requiring any fancy equipment.


"[P]robably the most comprehensive guidebook ever written... Photographing Flowers is a detailed roadmap through all possible iterations of this specialized breed of macro photography.."---Rangefinder Magazine

"A superb book with excellent attention to detail and infused with the author's passion for his subject"---Digital Photographer Magazine, rated "Best Guide to Flower Photography"

"Photographing Flowers is filled with stunning, full-page color photographs...by studying each photograph and reading the author's comments and technical information, the reader will gain an understanding of how to create their own shots....[H]e also lists the equipment and settings he used for each photograph, as well as the reason for choosing them. Offering tips and techniques to use in the field, and later in the digital darkroom, the author has compiled a book that's sure to please those who enjoy shooting flowers."---PSA (Photographic Society of America) Journal

"In this book Davis offers his knowledge and experience in the art of floral photography, presenting not only the results of his beautiful creations, but explanations of how each photograph was captured: the set up, the equipment and even the camera settings used for each brilliant image. The author takes you beyond the point of capture and discusses processing, both in a lab environment and digital post processing, as well as offers side-trips through history to learn a bit from the masters of art and photography, such as Van Gogh and O'Keeffe. Davis even goes so far as to share affordable and easy use studio setups which he has designed over the years. Using his techniques wonderfully artistic images can be created! For any photographer interested in floral photography - whether amateur or pro - this book will not only tutor them, but will inspire them."--San Francisco Book Review