I discovered the flora in my Scribbles piece in the front garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum (not far from where I park). I loved the random, naturally abstract lines formed by the edges of the leaves. I’m not really sure what this thing is, but it kind of looked like some type of interesting cabbage. Since I wanted to even out the light (i.e., bring down the highlights and brighten the darks), I had to try several different angles before finding one that was acceptable. Tiny hairs and surface textures can be seen.
I liked the naturally abstract design of the hairs and seeds in my Feathered piece. As they were in the big, back garden at the museum and the black-eyed Susan were still in bloom, I worked the scene until I found an angle that allowed me to use the flowers as a very nice, colorful background. I reduced the F-stop a little from my normal setting so that no details remained in the background, but not enough to where I lost a significant amount of sharpness on the seeds. I’m not really sure what type of flora the seeds are from, and I hadn’t ever come across any like them at the museum on prior trips. Surface textures, single strands of hair, and tiny dew drops are visible here.
While my Seeds piece is not quite a vertical companion to Feathered, it was composed using the same group. For this composition, I moved the camera closer to the subjects, rotated to a vertical orientation, and bumped the F-stop back up to ensure that I was able to capture all the fine details in the hairs. Along with the black-eyed Susans in the background, dew drops, single strands of hair, and surface textures can also be seen here.
I found the flora in my Berries piece in the big, back garden at the museum. I had noticed some small flowers (and even considered several different compositions featuring them) on this bush earlier in the year. Perhaps this is what they became. At any rate, I loved the purple and blue colors and their vertical pattern. My vision was to capture the way the stems artistically bring the berries up and out into the frame as well as their combined design. This is another example of a very long exposure (especially for macro) where a full ten seconds of shutter time was used. Surface textures can be seen on the berries and the stems.
I liked the design and colors of the flower in my Liriope piece. I used red flowers for the background and opened up the lens just enough to create a nice bokeh while maintaining as much subject detail as possible. As I have written in previous posts, having a Live View capability that can be paired with the Depth Of Field Preview is quite useful in these situations. Those functions allow you to see how the F-stop changes will affect your image thereby giving you an ability to dial in exactly what your artistic intent is.
The flower in my Up Close piece is the same type that was used for the background in the composition above. I searched through and around the entire bush to find a subject that would give me what I envisioned. Well, technically, I examined two bushes before settling on this particular bloom. My artistic intent was to exclude any greens from background leaves while placing the center of the small flower in the upper portion of the frame. To do this, I had to utilize my Frankenstein lens configuration. Even though this was composed at less than two times life size magnification, the key was being able to get physically closer to the flower because that allowed me to only include what I wanted. Surface textures can be seen here thanks to the high level of detail.
I concentrated on the head of a black-eyed Susan for my Portrait piece. I liked how the background petals dissolved into simple colors and shapes while creating a ring of lines emanating from the head. I also liked how the dark browns of the florets have a fiery red tone along the edge where the light influences their color. Tiny hairs and individual pieces of pollen can be seen within the zone of sharpness that starts at the focal point at the top of the head.
Not many subjects were left and/or blooming in the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum where I found the flower in my Attached piece. Luckily, this flower was in pretty good shape. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition by focusing deep within the flower where the filaments and stigma originate. I also wanted to pull in some of the pinks and reds from the petals so I placed those colors in the background along the top and bottom of the frame. I liked how the greens in the center are being backlit causing that area to appear to be glowing. At nearly two times life size magnification, the depth of field is incredibly shallow.
I liked the naturally abstract design that the anthers created on the flower in my Anther Crossing piece. This is a different flower than the one in Attached, but still on the same plant. My artistic vision was to center the anthers in the frame horizontally while using an angle that allowed the filaments to streak up towards the corner on the right-hand side. At nearly two times life size magnification, the filaments dissolved into simple colors and shapes.
My Sweeping Pink piece was all about the naturally abstract design created by the flower’s petals. This is the same flower as the one in Anther Crossing. My artistic vision was to place the gap between the petals on a diagonal that runs from the lower left-hand side to the upper right-hand side. I liked how the petal’s surface on the left side of the gap has a rolling, wave-like appearance.
I loved the dark purples and reds in my Fire Pit piece. In my mind’s eye, the yellows, oranges, and reds in the center reminded me of fire. My artistic intent was to place a little bit of the really dark petal as a foreground border with strong flames searing above it while the filaments carry the anthers up through the blaze into the frame. The little deformation near the lower right-hand corner was perfect because it appears to be some type of glowing ember. A deflector was used to even out the light across the subject. Surface texture as well as lots of pollen can be seen.
I found the scene in my Singular Beauty piece quite interesting. First, it is not often that you are able to isolate a single stamen away from the others and the stigma. Secondly, the chicken fat coming into the frame from the lower right-hand side had a rather unique shape that added visual interest. I also appreciated how the curve of the filament is sort of echoed by a vein in the background petal. Without purposefully trying, the anther is essentially bisected by the left most one third line (using the rule of thirds). These days I do, on occasion, specifically align things, but many times, while composing, my artistic desires just naturally utilize lines from the rule of thirds. Tiny pieces of pollen can be seen here as well thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I was attracted to the textured features on the petal of the daylily in my Wrinkled piece. I loved the pleating, scrunched look and the dark orange and brown earth tones combined with the nicely contrasting bright yellows. As the petal’s rib nicely divided the naturally abstract patterns on the surface, I made the artistic decision to place the ridge on a diagonal that arcs up and out of the lower right-hand side corner. I subsequently used the furrow as my focal point. A deflector was used here as well to even out the light and allow more detail to be seen.
The canna lily in my Ribbon piece was another fairly large subject. Of course, I loved the bold colors, but more than that, I was enamored with the shape of the stamen and its naturally abstract patterns. In my mind’s eye, the curl of the stamen reminded me of how a ribbon on a present is sometimes formed into a coil to add a touch of artistic flair and a little extra love while wrapping it. The deflector was utilized here too, which, once again, brings up a concession management topic. When there is simply too much light on your subject, a deflector is a fantastic tool. However, additional shutter time will be needed with all other settings being equal (e.g., ISO and F-stop). Under windy conditions, reducing your available light may not work. In this case, using my preferred methods, with the last of the golden hour light nearly gone and the wind starting to pick up, patience was the only available tool in the bag. That and creating lots of images to sift through for the few that were perfectly stable. Surface textures and tiny pieces of pollen are visible within the frame.
I was attracted to the flower in my Feeling Purple piece by the gorgeous purples and greens. My artistic vision was to position the naturally abstract darker purple inner arc horizontally across the frame. The most difficult aspect of this was finding and keeping the angle that resulted in the most aesthetically pleasing image. To pull in the fantastic greens, I needed to look down into the core of the daylily, however, the stamen, and more importantly, the tips of the anthers wanted to creep up into the bottom of the frame. When you create at more than life size magnification, small amounts of subject movement can greatly affect your composition. With that in mind, the wind can also be a significant factor as it tends to manipulate your subject’s position (even when using a plamp). Once you can imagine what you want, keep checking the framing to ensure you’re capturing the desired result. Continue to reposition the camera as needed to maintain what you envisioned and hope that Mother Nature calms the wind down long enough to capture it (in this case, two and half seconds). Surface texture can be seen here thanks to the high level of detail.
I have always felt that canna lily petals have very nice naturally abstract patterns and shapes on them, and my artistic intent for Red Rain was to find an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of them. As the petals are curved, finding an area that is flat simply isn’t possible. Increasing the magnification helps a little because the slope is reduced as the surface area diminishes, but with a higher magnification the depth of field is shallower. As I’ve written in many previous blog posts, photography is about concession management. You likely can’t have everything you want, so you must accept the best you can get.
Some of the canna lilies at the Yonce Farm have very large stamens. The stamen in my Big Wing piece was almost the size of a petal on the canna lilies I see at Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure if they are a specific type of canna lily or Bob’s plants are just really happy with the soil conditions and grow bigger. At any rate, I loved the naturally abstract patterns of lines and shapes on the stamen as well as the colors. Individual pieces of pollen are visible too.
Once again, I loved the naturally abstract shapes and patterns on the canna lily in my Whirl piece, but my artistic intent was to create a composition that looked down into the flower. In my mind’s eye, doing that produced a swirl like effect almost like the shapes were being pulled down a vortex. Even the design of the stigma adds to that feeling with how it is curved and twisted. As the flower itself was primarily backlit, I used a diffuser to even the light out and allow a deeper look down into it.
My artistic vision for the flower in Rise Up was to create an abstract that featured lines. I used the petals along the bottom to create a border and then placed the filaments and stigma on an angle coming up from the lower right-hand corner into the frame. Additionally, the ribs and veins in the background originate from the same area and arch up and out into the frame in a similar manner. As the anthers were beyond the zone of sharpness, they dissolved down into shapes and colors.
I was attracted to the flower in my Petals piece by the gorgeous purples, but after seeing how nicely the colors of this daylily flowed combined with how the flower’s petals overlapped, I immediately knew that I wanted to create another naturally abstract composition using them. I placed the left side petal in the frame so that the edge of it weaves its way up diagonally. I also used the edge as my focal point. Surface textures can be seen here as well.
I was attracted to the flower in my Quiver piece by the gorgeous reds, oranges, and yellows. My artistic vision was to frame it so that the chicken fat created a bit of a border along the bottom and lower sides. Additionally, I placed the anthers high enough in the frame to be well above the border. Even though they are curved, in my mind’s eye, the stamen, with their arrowhead like anther shapes, reminded me of arrows. Surface textures and tiny individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
The greens, oranges, and purples in my Secondary Colors piece were quite appealing. I also liked the creamy whites. In fact, I made the artistic decision to frame this daylily so that section of colors had space to run along the top. Interestingly, this particular variety of flower has filaments that have a section of orange that nearly matches the ring of oranges around the petals. As an artist (and a confessed color junkie), I find the overall color coordination a nice touch. For example, it has additional harmonious areas between the tops of the petals and the centers of the anthers. Finally, the orange pollen contrasts nicely against the very dark outside of the anthers.
The gorgeous reds in my Odd Man Out piece called me over to this flower. My artistic vision was to use the foreground petals and the stigma to create a border along the bottom of the frame. I liked the overlapping petals and how the veins are visible. I also found the quirky horizontal anther attractive as you don’t see that very often (e.g., I have only seen and captured that on one other occasion). Surface textures and individual pieces of pollen are visible.
Of course, I loved the bold colors in my Enchanted piece, but I was equally enticed by how the petals unfolded and the pattern they created. Additionally, the petal ribs and veins form what could loosely be described as leading lines that when followed carry your attention to the stamen and the flower core where it can burst back out and start the loop around the image all over again. But that wasn’t the most intriguing part of this daylily, it has what appears to be multiple stigmas. Bob had disappeared (likely to tend to other chores on his farm) or I would have asked him if he knew how one of his flowers could have up to five stigmas. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen that before on a daylily. Perhaps it is one that he developed.
The stunning colors of the daylily in my Purple Passion piece were impossible to ignore. If this had been the only composition I was able to create that morning, I still would have felt that the trip had been worth it. This quickly became one of my all-time favorite daylily images. For me, there is so much to love about this: the gorgeous purples, magentas, reds, and greens, the pleating on the petals, and how the chicken fat rolls into the frame both near the center and along the bottom. Pollen and surface textures are easily seen as well.
For my Sun Kissed piece, I tried something that I had never done before with a daylily. This flower was very backlit by golden hour light with no other lighting source or deflector/reflector use. That really lit up the oranges and yellows in the background, but it also darkened portions of some anthers and caused others to nearly become silhouetted. Similarly, that artistic decision created what appears to be a glowing area in the center of the focal point anther and on the pollen that surrounds it. It was an interesting effect and one that I was determined to utilize.
The small stamen in my Unique piece all but forced me to create this composition. I don’t know why it had a single stamen that was A) so much smaller than the others and B) not with the other group. It was like an extra stamen or one that somehow had its growth stunted. I also liked how the anthers were grouped and had formed a triangle shape. I used an angle that placed the little stamen in the background between the arches of the normal stamens. I also liked the pink and oranges in the background and the chicken fat. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen here too.
The naturally abstract qualities of my Invader piece convinced me to create a composition of it. I’m not exactly sure what this is. It may have been some type of a fungus that attacked one of the daylilies. At first glance I thought I was seeing a cool looking spider web with lots of pollen or tiny drops of dew in and on it. Whatever it was, it appeared to be holding down one of the petals, an anther, and possibly even the stigma while potentially feeding off from its host. And, it definitely met my interesting criteria for what to point the camera at. Since it was on a lily, it also came with gorgeous colors. Very fine, tiny hairs and polyp looking things can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
My Origin piece was a bit of an experiment. I have created several daylily interior compositions over the years where I attempt to get the focal point as far down into the flower as possible. That, by itself, creates a naturally abstract result. However, none of my prior works have had a horizontal orientation. Here, the filaments (and where they originate from) are the main attraction – especially with their colors and curved shapes. I also loved how the anthers dissolved down into colors. Creating this one was fun.
After having made many trips to their gardens, I could hardly wait for the right time to get back out to the Yonce Farm and create compositions of their lilies. The conditions during the two trips that I’ll cover in this year’s blog posts were every bit as good as they’ve ever been. Though Bob suggested that he had not kept the gardens in their prime form and had let a few weeds live longer than he should have, I assured him that I wouldn’t have any problems finding subjects. With the dearth of potential candidates during outings to both Edisto Memorial Gardens and Swan Lake Iris Gardens this year, it was great to finally have so many possibilities in one area. As usual, it can be a bit overwhelming because everywhere you look there are gorgeous flowers vying for your attention. Long term readers of this blog know how fantastic the subjects can be, but for those of you who are new, click here for previous posts of this wonderful place.
In my mind’s eye, the anthers in my Togetherness piece were lovingly touching each other. Almost as if they were siblings or puppies bonding while grouped close to each other. Of course, the colors were also quite attractive. This is also another example of using a very long exposure time (especially for macro at nearly two times life size magnification). A full ten seconds was used since the rising sun had just come up and was partially obscured by clouds. Surface textures, pollen, and tiny dew drops can be seen.
The gorgeous pastel colors brought me over to the flower in my Huddle piece. I also liked how the anthers were grouped. The nearly two times life size magnification creates a dreamy feel with such a shallow depth of field. Surface textures can be seen within the zone of sharpness.
Two factors focused my attention on the flower in my Greenlight piece. First, I don’t get many opportunities to compose using a horizontal orientation. I think that is due to how the stamen are normally grouped together (i.e., they just naturally fit in the frame better vertically). Secondly, the wonderful greens and fiery reds in the background were quite alluring. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen here as well.
I loved the pinks and pastels in the background of my In The Pink piece. Also enticing was how the petals were ribbed, and the design created by the tight grouping of the anthers. Once again, surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.