For the past few years, I’ve felt that there was a composition waiting to be discovered in this plant growing near the archway on the front side of the Aiken County Historical Museum. I wasn’t ever quite sure what to do with it so I decided to spend some time exploring it while keeping an open mind.
Which brings up an interesting digression. This might seem strange to some of you (or, who knows, maybe everyone will think it’s weird). But, as I’ve continued to grow as a photographer, I feel like I’ve been developing an inner connection with nature. It’s almost as if she has been guiding me to artistic possibilities. I sometimes feel like I’m not searching subjects out as much as I’m being pulled to them from some outside force. It is nearly impossible to explain, but I can equate it to my music because the feeling is the same. When I would write music (Solo Acoustic Fingerstyle Guitar), I sometimes had NO idea where the music was coming from. Occasionally I had ideas in my head that just needed to come out via my fingers, but other times music would find its own way onto the fretboard in a way that made it feel like I was just a vessel through which it could be sent (from who knows where). When I have a clear mind and I feel like I’m somehow in tune with nature, I discover compositions much, much easier. And, I don’t always have an ability to describe, with certainty, what prompted me to look at a given subject or to know that a beautiful scene existed in an area so small we would normally never even see it or, for that matter, think to look for it. Conversely, when that connection is severed or my mind is filled with other thoughts (for example, when the grounds crew at Hopeland Gardens bring out their loud leaf blowers to blow leaves off from the dirt and gravel trails), it can be almost impossible to find suitable subjects. I find myself running away from the penetrating noise so that nature and I can get back on the same wavelength. Once we’ve reconnected, Mother Nature can continue to direct me to the potential opportunities she feels are worthy of presenting – to me and everyone else that sees my work.
Saw Blades is my first composition from the aforementioned plant. I loved the various shades of greens (especially those with a blue hue where the leaves connect to the core) and the abstract pattern they form by being so tightly stacked. If you look closely, you will see tiny little teeth along the leaf edges. I didn’t test this theory, but I imagine that if you were to forcefully brush your skin against them, they would cut you open.
Shafts is a different perspective from the same plant. Because I had the macro rig on my camera, I pulled the tripod back a couple of feet and reframed the scene. My artistic intent was to show more of the leaves and how they attach to the core while retaining an abstract quality. That decision also affected where the focal point was located and, along with the shallow depth of field, determined how the sharpness is distributed throughout the frame. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual teeth along the leaf edges to be seen.
I pulled the tripod back a little further and changed the perspective again for my Sprout piece. My artistic vision was to essentially combine the abstract lines and shapes of the design created by the leaves with their connection to the core. I also wanted to enhance the 3-D look/feel, and I was able to accomplish that by selecting a couple of leaves to come out toward the lens and get close enough to be beyond the zone of sharpness while simultaneously filling the remainder of the frame with leaves that extend all the way into the background. That helps increase the illusion of depth on a 2-D surface. I did struggle a little with what gallery this belongs in because it has abstract qualities, but, in the end, I felt that it more closely represents what the plant actually looked like. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual teeth to be seen here as well.