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Posted May 17, 2012
Very relevant book
I thought flower photography would be easy! This book has helped me to understand the complexities of flower photography, how to produce beautiful photos in a more controlled environment, and how to choose the best lighting for each situation. The subject is researched well, the explanations are clear, and the illustrations are superb.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2012
One of Davis' best - must read for all lovers of flowers
Photographing Flowers presents a great overview of the how-to of flower photography, and of all the photography books I've read over the past 25 years, this book has inspired my photography more than I expected. I'm an experienced flower photographer and I assumed that although the photos would be beautiful, there wouldn't be much in the way of new techniques or knowledge that I haven't already been exposed to. Wow, I couldn't have been much more wrong! I often go scouting for beautiful flowers and often have success, but Davis starts the book discussing the advantages in planning - "where" and "scale". Without giving away too much, I found his explanation and discussion on "scale" particularly insightful. If you are a fan of flower photos, the photographs in this book are an absolute delight. Not only does Davis give us visual treats to enjoy, he shares his thought process for each photo. I cannot emphasize enough that the sharing of his thoughts is probably one of the biggest benefits of Harold's book. Harold provides ample technical details on how he took the photos, but more importantly, he engages the reader on how to consider the potential subject, to think about what it is I want to see from a finished photograph (pre-visualization), Davis provides an excellent tutorial on how to choose a lens and his explanation on exposure is amongst the best I've read. Usually I'm not a huge fan of most photography books detailing info such as: focal length of the lens, ISO, etc... for each picture, but given that this book deals with macro photography, I found it helpful to know in these cases. Davis does a wonderful job of teaching the underlying fundamentals of proper exposure and the effects of shutter speed and aperture (depth of field). I feel a number of authors simply provide the "here's the settings I used" detail and skip over the basic concepts, which can leave the novice mistakenly thinking "do the same" and it will give him the same results. Davis' explanations and use of a controlled environment (his studio) along with the sumptuous results of his work particularly instructive. His use of a black velvet background and subtle vases to accent flowers in a still life composition, and photographing flowers on top of a light table resulting in back lighting that makes the blossoms translucent are wonderful. Harold's examples and explanations of the topics of: Focus, Sharpness, and Composition are first rate. The example photos reinforce the explanations of each concept and bring the instruction to a higher level. One example is where Davis shoots the same lily with two different backgrounds and asks the reader to compare how the background affects the mood and look of the subject. The last section of the book deals with Photoshop and the "digital darkroom." His expertise inside Photoshop is obvious, and although impressionistic versions may not suit everyone, I found his treatment of a number of flowers both beautiful and a nice introduction to "digital art" vs. minor editing and enhancement of "straight photographs." I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about taking fantastic flower photos.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 28, 2011
Posted December 15, 2011
Recently I had read Mr. Davis¿ Creative Close-ups: Digtial Photography Tips and Techniques and worked on many of the techniques discussed there. As a result of that book I was greatly anticipating his new book, Photographing Flowers. I have not been disappointed. In Creative Close-ups he goes into techniques and equipment for many different macro photography subjects. In Photographing Flowers he applies many of those ideas and concentrates specifically on flowers as a subject.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
If you are looking for a detailed list of equipment, you will not find it here. What you will find is a stunningly beautiful book brimming with inspiration and insight into his thought process while creating these works of art. The book is a pleasure to sit with simply as a visual treat, an art book. Even non-photographers could get lost in the images. Photographers will gain the additional benefit of Mr. Davis¿ considerable talent and experience in photography. Each image has accompanying side notes that explain what his intention was and how he created that image. It¿s the closest thing to working side by side with this teacher that many of us can hope to have.
The book covers some basic scientific information about flowers. It does, indeed, help to understand your subject. He also has a basic discussion of technical considerations such as choosing a lens, histograms, exposure, focus, flash, natural light, and more. A novice will benefit from these discussions as well as an experienced photographer.
There is much more to be savored and discovered in this book by all levels of interest and experience but the great strength, for me, is the feeling of standing next to Mr. Davis while he is working.
Posted October 31, 2011
What a Wonderful, Wonderful Book
Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds With Harold Davis by Harold DavisWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
From the technically exquisite photographs, the enlightening descriptions of the various flowers, the detailed photographic techniques used, through the digital darkroom enhancements, Harold Davis demonstrates why he is a master photographer.
Mr. Davis takes us on a fantastic journey through the macro world of flower photography. At every step of the way, the author's passion for photography and especially flowers is on display.
The book is divided into four main parts: The Worlds Of Flower Photography; Making Flower Photos; The Bee's Eye View; and Flowers in the Digital Darkroom. Each section is so full of information that it could be a book on it's own. Mr. Davis not only includes complete details of how he took each photo, but the why he took it also. The techniques he shares not only apply to flower macro photography, but to many other areas of interest.
In Photographing Flowers Mr. Davis passes on not only very usable techniques, but also wonderful lessons in creativity. If you have even a passing interest in flower photography, you owe it to yourself to add this book to your collection. It is the type of book you will turn to time and time again for techniques and ideas. This book works for me, and I believe you'll find it works for you as well.
Posted October 31, 2011
Comprehensive and colorful
My father first bought me a Harold Davis book a few years ago. Now I have more of his books than anyone else's. I'm a hobbyist that occasionally does paid photo gigs, and I'm always looking to learn new things. I like his books because they are clear, organized, comprehensive, and full of large, color photos. "Photographing Flowers" is no different, and does not disappoint.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
You can simply flip through the book for ideas, but if you take the time to read the text, you can really feel the passion that he has for the subject matter, and I think that's very important (and something you don't get from some photo books).
The author starts from the very beginning, explaining why he photographs flowers, and what he enjoys about them, almost poetically. He then describes a lot of different flowers in detail, describes their origins, where to find them, and strategies for photographing them.
Next he talks about the technical considerations to make, such as lens selection, how to get a good exposure outdoors or in the studio, and every pic in the book is labeled with his exposure settings. He uses light boxes quite often, and his techniques for giving the flowers a transparent look it pretty cool. He also talks about using lab color in Photoshop, which I never knew much about before reading his books.
The best part of the book is probably the fact that it's full of full-page, color photos. This could double as a coffee table book, too.
If I had to offer a criticism, it would be that I'd prefer to see more abstract or artistic photos flowers. While he does cover macro photography, and some useful Photoshop processing techniques, I just wanted to see a few more that pushed the boundaries of flower photography.
All in all, this is the most comprehensive book I've seen on photographing flowers. It is highly recommended. Even if you're not a photographer, you will find this book interesting!
Posted October 29, 2011
Photographing Flowers is a must read...outstanding book!
Anyone who follows Harold Davis' Photoblog 2.0 understands how passionate he is when it comes to photographing flowers. When he announced his plans to write a book on photographing flowers I knew the final results would be outstanding. No surprises here...this book has exceeded my expectations and I feel that Photographing Flowers should be considered his signature book on photography. Every page of this book contains at least one flower image. Harold left no secrets in this book. Each photograph includes a caption that lists the camera's settings (meta data). Also included is "creative information," why he chose the flower and how the image was set up to maximize its beauty. The layout of the book is very well done. The balance between the amount of text and photographs was carefully crafted making the book very easy to navigate. The quality of the paper and images are exceptional. The images have a three dimensional quality - they literally pop off the pages. This book could easily pass for a fine art photography book. The book finishes with Photoshop tutorials that will assist you in processing the flower images in the digital darkroom. Two popular plug-ins (Nik Software and Topaz Labs) are used in some of the tutorials. Any photographer who wants to learn about flower photography or wants to hone their flower photography skills should strongly consider purchasing this book. Full disclosure, I was provided a copy from the publisher for review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 28, 2011
Creating Fine Art Flower Photographs
Of all the subjects available to the photographer, flowers are perhaps the best. Harold Davis's book "Photographing Flowers" captures some of the best images that you will ever find - true fine art photography -- and he shares how he achieved the images. From the photograph on the cover through the introduction followed by beautiful images on almost 200 hundred pages and finally to the chapters on processing, it is obvious that Harold loves his subjects. It also becomes apparent that Harold has developed unique techniques to achieve affects that others have tried and failed to achieve.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Harold has developed lighting, exposure, and digital stacking and layering techniques that produce magical images. The dynamic range of his photographs is unsurpassed. His ability to photograph the translucent nature of flowers is unprecedented. He is not afraid to use artistic filters and techniques to produce images in the styles of Georgia O'Keeffe, Vincent van Gogh, and 20th-century post impressionists. He introduces the reader to the LAB photo space and suggests techniques to produce new magical images.
But this is not a book full of tricks and special effects, special lens and gadgets, and processes that no one will ever be able to use. Rather it is a book that teaches you about flowers, about pre-visualizing the effect you want to achieve with the flowers, and then outlining how you can achieve fantastic results.
This is not a book for amateur photographers who have never used a macro lens, setup lighting and backgrounds, or used layering techniques in Photoshop. It does not go through the detailed steps but rather introduces the techniques and lets the reader work through the details. It gives the photographer new ideas about what he or she can accomplish, outlines the approach, and leaves most of the detailed steps as an "exercise for the student". If you don't have the experience to take the outlines and fill in the spaces I suggest you augment this book with one of the other Davis books that provide more step be step procedures and specific processes.
A word about the paperback format. The book is not some cheap paperback with watered down, over exposed, flat images. The exceptional printing paper and process produces a book full of vibrant images every bit as good as a fine hard back book. This is a book to leave on the living room table for all to admire - right next to your new fine art images of your favorite flowers.
Posted October 25, 2011
A PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK OF ART
Photographic instruction manual, coffee table book, course in artistic creativity and an entertaining read. Take your pick. It's all here plus so much more. When this book arrived at my doorstep I had just returned that day from a month long trip. I immediately sat down amid the mountainous pile of mail that had accumulated while I was gone and could not pull myself away until I had looked at every single page and image. I simply could not put it down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Harold Davis is one of the most energetic, enthusiastic, enlightening (not to mention talented) author/photographer I know. This book blew me away. The images are truly awesome. The instructional aspect has me reworking my schedule in order to have more time to experiment with some of the techniques he describes in detail. If you're interested in learning how to enter the world of photographing flowers close up, this is the book for you. If you're interested in spending hours looking as beautiful, compelling flora images and learning about their scientific names, this is the book for you. If you're interested in becoming more motivated to get out the door with your camera and macro lens in tow (don't forget your tripod), this is the book for you. If you're interested in all three - BINGO! You gotta get this book!!! It's all there and so much more.
As a bonus, Mr. Davis includes a section on post processing - a subject that has always given me a headache just thinking about it. I am now ready to explore the world of Focus Stacking, Enhancing Colors with LAB (before this book I thought LAB stood for a place to send your images to be printed), filters, Photoshop, studio lighting, toothpicks and more.
If you're not sure about this book, go to a bookstore, locate this book, turn to page 165 and take a look a the image, then read the description on page 164. I almost guarantee you won't be able to walk away without this book.
A wonderful, innovating book. Thank You, Mr. Davis!
Posted October 24, 2011
A Rare Combo - Art Book & Techniques Book in One
Usually you get one or the other in photo books - fine art photography or step x step how-to techniques. Photographing Flowers combines the best of both genres. The photos in this latest Harold Davis book are stunning & aspirational (you'll want to achieve what he did!). And, his techniques tips seem doable even by non-pro photographers. If I had to sum up the book in one sentence, I'd say it explores possibilities and options for photographing flowers in ways that make you think out of the flower pot (or, garden plot).Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This book covers the soup to nuts aspects of flower photography, including: what to capture, where to capture shots (outdoors or in studio), how to ensure shooting success, best ways to present your floral subjects (composition, focus, lighting - natural & artificial - and manipulation in the digital darkroom). It even throws in a smattering of how to simulate the style of famous artists and art movements that leant themselves to floral subjects. It is an artistic and practical field guide to flower photography.
Harold Davis is clearly an enthusiastic fan of flowers. For those who are interested it's even possible to learn more about various species from the book. Hey, it's more exciting than you might think. Who knew I'd get a sex ed lesson in a photo book about flowers! But, it's like photographing any subject. The more you know about it the more you can do justice to it in your images.
One last thing I'd like to point out is how beautifully Photographing Flowers is designed. I recently took a course on photo book design. So I'm very sensitive to the complexity of doing it well. The font is an ideal readable size & style, the layouts are clean (images complement text, the flow is logical & there's enough white space on each page), plus the color management is spot on (so many techniques photo books have muddy visuals - this one is clean, crisp and vibrant).
I'm already pulling out my lightbox, some cheap clamp on the back of a chair strobes, a reflector & gobo, my tripod & macro lens to see what I can come up with using this book as a reference and inspiration.
Posted October 23, 2011
A Beautiful Book!
This book is gorgeous. For those familiar with Harold Davis's work, they will not be disappointed. The pictures are as stunning as you have come to expect from this accomplished photographer: tight, sharp, beautifully exposed, creatively portrayed. The book is full of suggestions for subject selection, point of view, angle, lighting, and digital darkroom techniques. Stylistically, it reads as though the author was speaking to you in a workshop setting. Easy to understand and it inspires you to put down the book, shoot some images, and then return to the book for ideas on finishing touches on the computer. If you own a digital camera and photo manipulation software, this will motivate you to get shooting.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Some of the images look too sophisticated to be accomplished by amateurs, yet I was surprised by how attainable they are given practice. When I worked in film format, practice involved expensive mistakes. Film, paper, and darkroom time could all get very expensive. If you already own a digital camera, computer, scanner, and software, you will be able to experiment with almost everything (see next paragraph) discussed in the book. And the cost of mistakes is insignificant now!
Beginners will appreciate the exposure information. More advanced photographers will appreciate the information on darkroom manipulation, especially if they are currently using PhotoShop. I have been using Photoshop Elements, and have recently purchased Lightroom, but do not own PhotoShop. Too early to tell whether I will be limited by my software. I have not tried merging layers on multiple exposures of one image. Regardless, I would still recommend this book.
As both a photographer and a Master Gardener, I appreciate Harold's notations for not only the exposure and manipulations of the images but also for the names of the flowers photographed! A bonus! - and a pleasant surprise, as this has not been the case with other books on the subject.
Posted October 20, 2011
Creativity and technique, a potent combination to help you develop as a photographer.
"Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis" represents the third book I am reviewing by this excellent photographer and educator. Harold notes that there needs to be a balance between art and image taking strategies. You need to have a vision of what you want to capture in an image, and then you need to know how to get there. Such is the thesis exhibited in this interesting work by Davis. Basically, as Ansel Adams stated, it is about "making pictures not taking pictures." Beyond simple vision, good flower photography needs to convey emotion while making effective use of color and contrast. How do you do that? This is at the core of the book. Additionally, how do you take your vision and create a unique image. What techniques can you employ to deliver the results you want. Does black and white deliver the emotional connection you are looking to achieve even better than color? Consider using a light box as a background to present your vision in a brilliant way. Davis opens your mind to use lighting, angles, simple and sophisticated techniques to inform you how to reach your photographic potential In addition to encouraging creativity, Harold's instructional style is clearly presented to the reader. Of particular note, is understanding the factors influencing a successful macro image. The need to appreciate depth-of-field, true focus, and the components of making your work interesting is masterfully delivered in a most approachable manner. Davis has a gift of communicating photographic techniques coupled with the concepts of photographic composition that not only stays with the reader, but has the power to transform your approach to photography in a most effective and beneficial way. What I admire about Harold Davis' writing is his sharing of his photographic philosophy that gives the reader a greater depth of understanding in what he does and how to elicit your own approach to creating your particular photographic vision. Particularly with flowers, their beauty is temporal. As Davis notes in his explanation of "Wabi-Sabi," a Japanese philosophical and aesthetic movement accepting that everything passes and is incomplete. "All things pass, and in their passage and imperfection lies the possibility of beauty." Such is the essence of photographing flowers. But this work takes you beyond taking still life portraits of flowers, it literally goes deeper into the inner beauty of them in the macro world and transforms into timeless works of creativity.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 19, 2011
Another Terrific Book from Harold Davis
This book is a joy to read and a visual feast. Harold Davis loves flowers and shares with us his appreciation of the intricate structures and ethereal colors of his favorite species. He describes the behavior of flowers, such as the blooming of poppies, that you should know about if you are to be successful in photographing them. The text is sprinkled with factoids, such as tea roses got their name when they were imported from China to Europe on sailing ships, packed in the sea chests filled with tea leaves. Harold writes in a conversational tone and you feel he is taking you for a walk in his garden.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Harold strives for sensitive, subjective, artistic renderings of flowers, as found in the field and in the studio. He is not making documentary photographs. The book is filled with wonderful images of bouquets, flower sprays and individual flowers. The macro (and ultra-macro) images of petals and reproductive structures at the center of a blossom range from representational to abstract. An image is accompanied by a description of how it was planned, how it was taken, and how it was post-processed in the digital darkroom when that goes beyond conventional workflow. Harold's goal is to produce images beyond the conventional and being led through so many examples gave me ideas and techniques to try in my own work.
A moderate level of competence with DSLR and knowledge of Photoshop is assumed. The use of histograms is explained, consideration of depth of field and selective focus in macrophotography is discussed and illustrated. For many examples a screen shot of the Layers or Channels palette is shown so you can see the workflow but it is assumed you know about adjustment layers, masks and blending modes; LAB color is used to great affect. Harold likes to keep lighting simple, but there is discussion and illustration of natural light, studio light, macro flash and the use of a light box for transparency. This is a great reference to have on your shelf for inspiration and information.
Posted October 18, 2011
Great New Book on Photographing Flowers
I have just gotten through reading Harold Davis's new book, Photographing Flowers. I've read a lot of books photography books and can honestly say that this one ranks among the best. I say this for the following reasons:Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
1.) Inspiring Examples:
The photographs, which are found on almost every page, are technically superb and artistically pleasing examples of this area of the craft. He obviously knows what he is doing. The photographs lend credence to his advice on how to obtain such results in your own photography. The explanations for each example contain much more than the normal lens, f/stop, and shutter speed information. He also includes details about what attracted him to the particular flower, his pre-visualization process, and the techniques he used to obtain the results. This is very helpful for inspiring you to go out and use these techniques in your own creative work.
2.) Well Written, Understandable Technical Guidelines:
Photography is an artistic medium which requires both creative and technical expertise. I always look at techniques as tools in the tool-belt of the master craftsman. The more tools you have, the better. Mr. Davis gives you many of these tools in his understandable guidelines. For instance, he explains how to creatively use your camera's histogram to control the result you want to obtain. He also covers such practical issues as focus stacking, creative use of HDR techniques, and special help with blending layers in Photoshop.
3.) Interesting Information About Flowers:
He also includes a small amount of botanical and anatomical information about flowers. You may think this part sounds boring, but it isn't. As he says, the more you know about your subject, the better images you can make.
When you are photographing flowers you are dealing with one of nature's most beautiful subjects. You owe it to those around you to be as creative as possible. This book will give you tools to more fully use your creativity in this area of photography.
Posted October 15, 2011
Not only for photographers!
It may seem strange for a non-photographer to write a review of a book on photography, but this book is not just for photographers! It's filled with wonder, showing us such unexpected beauty that you will likely be surprised and delighted over and over again. The photographs are often stunning in their focus on the very center of what makes a flower lovely, that center that often goes unnoticed in the lavish display of petals. Harold Davis has an entertaining way of explaining how he takes his photos that appeals even to those of us who are photo impaired. And, as inspiration for my own work, painting or poetry, I find myself returning again and again to the pages of his books. So, even if you cannot take a decent snapshot, this book will reward you with so much lovliness and wonder, you will be glad you did not leave it to only photographers. This book is a joy that you can open and that will open your eyes to some of nature's most wonderous sights. And, oh! the colors! Who knew such colors were hiding from us in plain sight? Or, perhaps not such plain sight, but brought to us by the camera lens and the skill behind it. I cannot speak to the photography instruction but if it's even a fraction as marvelous as the photos themselves, you photographers won't be disappointed!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.