I’ve previously written about magnolia buds and blossoms and how fascinating I find them. They go through so many transformations and stages that it’s almost like having several species growing in the exact same spot. The flower in my Tentacles piece wasn’t very far off the ground. In fact, it was low enough to where I could get very close to it and compose at two times life-size. My artistic vision was to concentrate on the pistils because in my mind’s eye they always remind me of octopus arms. When framing it, I decided to include a couple of stamen layers along the bottom for context, which also increased the naturally abstract feel I wanted to create. Though the depth of field is really shallow, hairs on the surface and around the pistils can be seen.
Hopeland Gardens has three rectangular fountain areas that, as legend has it, are actually the foundation of the original Iselin home. The largest one of them normally has soothing, bubbling sounds coming from the water being pumped out of the fountains in the center of it. In addition to pleasing your auditory senses, it has good sized pots on each corner that usually have some type of flora in them. I’ve composed many images from those flowerpots over the years, and I discovered the leaf in my Wet Christmas piece growing from flora that was planted in one. I was attracted to the scene by the Christmas colors (reds, greens, and whites), but the naturally abstract qualities were an even bigger impetus. My artistic vision was to put the two larger veins running diagonally through the frame. Aesthetically, the position felt best when the center of the crossroads where all of the veins meet was placed near the upper, rightmost crossing line using the rule of thirds. The wet surface helps bring out the saturation and increases the abstract feel.
In my mind’s eye, the design that the stamen in my Team Spirit piece formed reminded me of the “We’re #1” foam fingers often seen at sporting events. My artistic vision was to create another naturally abstract image with that exact look by composing at two times life-size while ensuring that the top anther stayed far above the others – like an index finger does when holding it up. To enhance the effect, I used an angle that kept most of the fingers in the hotter colors from the flower’s center and only the first finger is allowed to rise above that area and extend up into the cooler colored area of the background. This daylily is the same flower I used for my Starburst Red artwork (you can read the blog post for that in Part 2 by following the link above). Though the zone of sharpness is quite small, surface textures can be seen.
So, I decided to try something really different for my On The Inside piece. I specifically wanted to create another naturally abstract composition, and to do that, I basically went deep inside one of the Starburst Red daylilies. I had to find one that would let me put the focal point that far down into it which meant that it needed to be open in a way that I could. Creating this was fun, and I was quite happy upon viewing the initial attempt on my camera’s Live View with the Depth Of Field preview activated. Much of the flower has been transformed into simple colors and what remained is within or close to the zone of sharpness. There may be a scientific name for the location within a flower where the filaments connect to it, but I certainly don’t have that knowledge. At any rate, that’s essentially what this is. I believe that the yellow tube-like structures are filaments and perhaps the stigma. I didn’t purposefully try to use the rule of thirds when composing this, but the leftmost one third line fell very close to where the top two filaments come together.
Similar to my On The Inside composition, the flower I used for Internal also allowed the focal point to be deep within it. The filament connection point is a little more defined and some striation in the left-hand side petal is also evident. However, the two could almost be bookends since the filaments sweep in opposite directions. The rightmost one third line is very close to where the top two filaments are attached here as well, though, once again, I didn’t force it into the frame at that location (it just happened to lay that way after placing it in an aesthetically pleasing position). I’m not sure how many other types of flowers this new technique would work with, but I like the result and feel that it has added another option to my toolbox.
I was attracted to the scene in my Crisscrossed piece by the design the group of anthers formed. The unique V-shape of the lowest two anthers caught my attention immediately because it was something that I had never seen before. My artistic vision was to place the anthers in the frame with the V being near the bottom and the remaining anthers coming up and into it above them. Once again, by concentrating on the stamen while composing at two times life-size, the shallow depth of field turned the background into simple colors and shapes. While I didn’t intentionally utilize the rule of thirds when framing this, the rightmost one third line cuts through both sets of the anthers that cross each other (at the top and the bottom). Surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I liked how the anthers were clustered into a tight group in my Heat Seekers piece and felt that they would work well framed vertically. My artistic vision was to place the anthers nearly centered just slightly above the hottest, most intense area of background colors. In my mind’s eye, the stamen looked like they were gathered around and soaking in the warmth of a fire. While the depth of field was fairly shallow, pollen and surface textures are still visible.
The colors of the daylily in my Starburst Red piece drew me right over to where a group of these flowers had been planted. While searching for the best composition, I noticed a small sign that was stuck in the ground identifying it as a starburst red daylily (hence the name). My artistic vision was to capture the flaming bowl the stigma and stamen were coming out of as they make their way up into the frame while arching away from and rising above the intense heat at the core of the flower. Surface textures and pollen can be seen here as well.
The big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum has been a reliable source for lily subjects over the years, and this past season was equal to or better than any I’ve experienced. Perhaps the garden club that helps maintain it or the museum itself decided that you can’t go wrong with lilies when sprucing up the flora on your grounds. Whatever the case, I found many fantastic scenes during my late spring and early summer explorations.
I was attracted to the scene in my Forked piece by the luscious colors and the arrangement/design of the daylily anthers. My artistic vision was to add to my Naturally Abstract collection by featuring those qualities up close and personal. Composing at two times life-size produces such a shallow depth of field that nearly all of the details in the background dissolved down into colors and lines. Even the filaments tend to dissipate into the petal’s gorgeous tones which helps increase the abstract feel. I love creating artwork where something familiar can be transformed into shapes, lines, and colors while maintaining just enough depth to where surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can still be seen.
The colors in my Bonfire Party piece are what initially caught my attention. In fact, I reframed so that I could pull more of the yellows up into the left-hand corner. My artistic vision was to, once again, feature the anthers in their naturally colorful setting. And the background characteristics morphed into simple colors just as they previously did. Because of the angles of the anthers and how they are arched, in my mind’s eye they appeared to be leaning toward the flames of a blazing campfire as if they were setting around it enjoying the warmth. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures are visible here too.
The bright colors of the lily in my Mellow Yellow piece brought me over to this scene, and I really liked the lighter, calm, toasted brown tones of the anthers. My artistic vision was to create a horizontally framed abstract anther composition, and I was pleased to find a group of stamen that worked well in that orientation. As per usual in these circumstances, the very shallow depth of field assured that the background was nearly devoid of any defining attributes (with the exception of the filaments). Even so, individual pieces of pollen and dew on the filaments can be seen.
I loved the background colors in my Long Tall Stamen piece. For me, the fiery yellows, oranges, and reds always provide a heightened level of excitement and enhanced zeal. I was also quite pleased with the design of the stamen group and how they come up into the frame. With the three front stamen being higher than the back three while having a nearly identical distance to the camera sensor, it increases the feeling of depth. My artistic vision was to place the spindly stamen nearly centered within the frame with their squiggly filaments lifting the anthers above the heat of the intense backdrop colors. Surface textures and pollen can be seen here as well.
While on my way to the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum, I noticed what looked like some really small pine cones on some type of an evergreen just before the patio area. The tree, or whatever it is, was in a fairly large pot and wasn’t quite as tall as I am. My artistic vision was to find an aesthetically pleasing group of cones with the right background. I searched the entire tree looking for the best combinations. Upon locating an acceptable cluster of cones, I would examine their backdrop and work the camera around using different angles and subject distances so that there were no large gaps or breaks in the flow of colors across the frame. The amalgamation in my Tiny Cones piece was the overall winner after circling the tree twice. I placed the center of the cones very near the rightmost one third line, using the rule of thirds. While there are no features in the needles on the left-hand side, I felt that they added some additional visual interest, and with such a shallow depth of field, I really liked how they are similar to the shape of the cones (almost like a mirror image). The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and dew to be seen.
While exploring the Aiken County Historical Museum grounds, I came across what appeared to be some type of seed pods. I discovered them to the right of the museum entrance near the arched doorway. I have no idea what they are, and I don’t recall ever seeing them before. Most of them were attached to what looked like a vine and split open. They caught my attention due to their unique shape (almost like gazelle horns).
The seed pod in my Standoff piece was composed where it was found. Aesthetically, I prefer uncluttered backgrounds. In this particular case, the leaves growing behind the seed pod were fairly close. If your camera has a Depth Of Field preview button, it pays for itself in these types of situations because you can use it to find the F-stop sweet spot where the background is reduced down to simple colors while keeping your subject as sharp as desired. That is exactly what I did while creating this and it was necessary to fulfill my artistic intent. I was pleased that a single seed remained in the pod because I felt that it enhanced the story of this unique looking flora splitting open to drop the next generation of pods. In my mind’s eye, I was also reminded of how a snake (e.g., a cobra) will rear back, and, even though they are connected near the bottom, the top made me think of a snake and another animal preparing to battle each other. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual hairs to be seen.
The seed pod in my Split piece was moved from its original location. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition utilizing a pod while infusing it with a much more vibrant color. I had seen some nice yellow lilies in the big, back garden earlier that spring morning that I felt would make an excellent background, so I found an open pod on the ground and carried it over to them. I held it in place with the Plamp, which required a little bit of work to get it positioned just right. An additional challenge was getting as much depth of field as I could with the environmental conditions I had to deal with (the wind had picked up a bit and fog was all but blocking my light). Being physically close to the subject helped dissolve the backdrop down into simple colors. Surface textures and individual hairs can be seen here as well thanks to the high level of detail.
The yellow tickseed flower in my Coming Apart piece was in a group near where I park my car at the Aiken County Historical Museum. In fact, it was growing no more than a few feet from where I prepare my gear. Although proximity is only a small consideration, it does count. Out of all of the flowers I looked at, I preferred this one because there were no gaps between the petals that would allow colors from other things behind the subject to show through. Aesthetically speaking, I wanted to capture uniformity of color across the entire frame. I also liked the abstract and chaotic feel of the petals (they are all over the place). I focused on the center of the flower where there is structure on the inside and then a ring of chaos on the outside that literally looks like it is fragmenting. I didn’t initially plan to use any rule of thirds when I framed this, but because there was enough wind to change the position of the flower even while employing a Plamp, it moved to where the left most one third line cuts through near the flower’s center. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I’ve written about the wonderful flora diversity within Hopeland Gardens previously, but I still find it very cool that while Aiken is about three hours south of the mountains, you can find flowers that are normally located in the Upstate region here in our little town. I’ve known about this area of mountain laurel for a long time, and I’ve searched through them for possible subjects many times over the years that I’ve lived here. But I wasn’t ever able to time the blossoms right or able to find an aesthetically pleasing group of blooms that I could use to create a composition. As photographers, that’s why we have to keep going back as many times as it takes – persistence will pay off. On this particular spring morning, a very nice set of flowers and buds were waiting for me to find them and compose my Kalmia piece. They certainly are attractive, especially with the lovely bright pinks. It’s no wonder that, according to my father, they were one of my grandmother’s favorite flowers. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I’ve created lots of pansy artwork over the years with many of them coming from Patsy’s Garden at the Rye Patch. Maybe she loved them and their wonderful designs as much as I do. Who knows, she may have even agreed with my “Pansies Rock” mantra. Longtime readers of this blog are familiar with her special, memorial area within the Rose Garden, but for those of you who aren’t, my Patsy’s blog tag is a good place to learn more about it. I was attracted to the flower in my Sunburst piece by the pattern of purples that are streaming out and away from the center of it combined with the yellow and orange tones. As I usually do when framing these little flowers, I placed the green heart in the core so that a one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed it. The high level of captured detail allows lots of tiny dew drops and pollen to be seen.