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Photographing Flowers: Exploring Macro Worlds with Harold Davis Paperback – Sep 19 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 1 edition (Sept. 19 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240820738
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240820736
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 22.9 x 24.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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

About the Author

Harold Davis is an award-winning professional photographer. He is the best-selling author of more than 30 books, including The Photoshop Darkroom 2: Creative Digital Transformations (Focal Press), Creative Porraits: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Black & White: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Composition: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Night: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), Creative Close-Ups: Digital Photography Tips & Techniques (Wiley), The Photoshop Darkroom: Creative Digital Post-Processing (Focal Press) and Practical Artistry: Light & Exposure for Digital Photographers (O'Reilly). Harold writes the popular Photoblog 2.0, www.photoblog2.com, and is a regular photography and Photoshop columnist for Photo.net, a photography site with more than one million members. Harold is a popular presenter on a wide range of digital photography and Photoshop topics. His workshops are sought after and often sold out. In addition to writing and photography, Harold has been a software engineer, an enterprise technology consultant, and an Internet company executive. Photographic adventures and assignments have taken him across the Brooks Range, the northernmost mountains in Alaska. He has photographed the World Trade Towers, hanging out of a small plane, followed in the footsteps of Seneca Ray Stoddard, a 19th-century photographer of the Adirondacks, and created human interest photo stories about the residents of Love Canal, an environmental disaster area. Harold is well known for his night photography and experimental ultra-long exposure techniques, use of vibrant, saturated colors in landscape compositions, and beautiful creative floral imagery. He is inspired by the flowers in his garden, hiking in the wilderness, and the work of great artists and photographers including M.C. Escher, Monet, van Gogh, and Edward Weston.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had to take a close up macro flower picture for a photography class. I bought this book to help me understand some things I was missing and it really helped plus more. There were flower pictures I'd admired before but didn't know how to do. I only had one complaint about the book. For some of his advanced techniques with photoshop, it was a bit sketchy. I had to do some searching on the web to find further info on how to do those things. Overall, I highly recommend the book for macro flower photography so I gave it a 5.
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By CSF TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Jan. 4 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great guide with advice for amateurs to Pros.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a most beautifully presented book. Lovely photos and very clear instructions on how to achieve beautiful images. I will be buying more books by Harold Davis.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa5513690) out of 5 stars 92 reviews
26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa54bf42c) out of 5 stars A Rare Combo - Art Book & Techniques Book in One Oct. 23 2011
By Curious - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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).

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 lend 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 it justice 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.
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa69574bc) out of 5 stars Not Quite What I Expected May 12 2012
By C. O'Keefe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is gorgeous but just not what I was looking for. There are many exquisite flower photographs and it would do well as a coffee table book. If you are a beginner or intermediate photographer I would not recommend this book for help in shooting flowers or macros. In addition to using macro lenses plus extensions plus close-up lenses all stacked together, Harold Davis uses rather complicated extensive post processing using Photoshop plus plug-ins. He also uses a light box for many of his shots. The results are breathtaking but require a lot of equipment and a lot of time. If you are looking to improve you close-up photography especially of flowers and hoping to get something decent out of camera I doubt that this book is for you either. I found Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Close-up Photography" to be very helpful, particularly in showing how to get the flower shots I envisioned with a lot less equipment, a lot less post processing and a lot less cross referencing
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6cd9cf0) out of 5 stars Beautiful Flora Oct. 20 2011
By Conrad J. Obregon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Over the years, as I've read books by Harold Davis, I've been impressed by the flower photographs he sometimes used for examples. I've waited expectantly for this book.

The book begins with an introduction to the world of flowers, including a discussion of some of the main families (although not, strangely enough, orchids). This is followed by a section on actually making flower photos, including discussions of equipment and exposure. Next is a section on flower sexuality. Davis concludes with a foray into post-processing of flower images.

The most arresting part of the book was the actual flower photographs. Every page spread has at least one beautiful photograph of one or more flowers. Particularly striking are the pictures of flowers taken on either a light table or in a light tent. The white of the environments is replaced by the white of the pages and the flowers snake through the text. I did wonder if these photographs would appear as lovely in a frame, without text, and I was inspired enough by the technique to resolve to try it at the first opportunity. Each of these photographs is well annotated and there is as much teaching in the captions as there is in the main text.

Although Davis covers all the bases of flower photography many of his hints are general in nature. For example, in discussing outdoor flower photography, he suggests using either a Plamp or a McClamp to keep the flower from moving. Having both of these devices in my arsenal, I knew that there was more to say about them, but Davis moved on without further mention. Similarly, in describing the use of flash, he discussed a preference for macro flash units, but didn't discuss the possibilities of regular units, or perhaps even using multiple units to shape the flowers.

The section on post processing was clearly aimed at the person who already knows how to use Photoshop. Techniques were suggested in terms that an experienced user would understand but not a beginner.

Some of the instruction in the book, like that on exposure, is clearly aimed at the beginner, while other information is aimed at a more advanced user. I think the principal benefit of this book will be as inspiration, although there is adequate instruction for the new flower photographer. I'm glad that Davis has finally decided to present us with this beautiful account of one of his favorite genre skills.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa568edf8) out of 5 stars Truly Beautiful Book! Oct. 23 2011
By B. Sawyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
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.

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.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa56958f4) out of 5 stars Straightforward Advice on How to Capture Flowers, with Plenty of Full-Color Inspiration. Dec 5 2011
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
"Photographing Flowers" by Harold Davis is part technical guide and part art book aimed at novice and intermediate photographers who would like to learn to take beautiful, creative pictures of flowers. Flower photography offers something for everyone. You don't have to be a "floral" type to become obsessed with it. I've done a lot of flower photography, and it is the bold lines accented by color that attract me to flowers. They are almost abstract when photographed up close. Harold Davis does both macro work and bunches of flowers, so he's a good source of advice whether you like abstract forms, bouquets, or botany. This book includes more than 130 photographs, many full page, with technical information, so there is no shortage of inspiration.

The bulk of the book is organized into four parts, the largest being the section about taking the photograph. David introduces the reader to "The Worlds of Flower Photography" by explaining a bit about flower geography, commonality, and the unique aesthetic qualities of roses, poppies (his favorite), ranunculuses, and dahlias. This gives the reader some ideas of where to start. Of course, there is nothing wrong with starting in your back yard or neighborhood park, or with that bouquet you got for your birthday. Then Davis moves on to "Making Flower Photos", beginning with the various pieces of equipment that will allow you to get very close to your floral subjects with your SLR or DSLR: macro lenses, extension tubes, close-up filters, lens reversal, and more.

Davis explains how to use an exposure histogram, offers advice on exposure, focus and sharpness, composition, working with various kinds of natural light, using macro flash, and photographing flowers in studio. His advice is straightforward and essential. His example photos are eye-catching and sometimes present the same flower photographed differently, which is useful. He could have done better on a few topics, however, which is why I give this book 4 stars rather than 5. He doesn't explain how to use or choose close-up equipment or what each type of equipment does. More examples of dealing with natural light at different times of the day and under different conditions would be helpful, as would some expansion of the spare information on flash and studio lighting.

Davis provides a straightforward explanation of exposure principles as they relate specifically to flower photography, which is necessarily incomplete, but it impressed me, as explanations of exposure have become convoluted in recent years for reasons I can't explain. There is a short section called "Bee's Eye View" that offers tips for photographing the unique forms that flowers present. Davis tops it off with "Flowers in the Digital Darkroom", which focuses primarily on "special effects" such as enhancing color, producing a Georgia O'Keefe look, creating the illusion of transparency, and more along those lines. It also tells readers how to do automated focus stacking, which would be useful to anyone. Though I found "Photographing Flowers" lacking on a couple of points, the information that is here is clear and easily applied to your next photo project.