All of the pieces in this post are from the same box turtle at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I posted about previously. He let me get quite close to him without pulling inside his shell or trying to scuttle away. These naturally abstract patterns come from his back and were created by pointing the lens down toward his shell.
I was attracted to the area in my Expand composition primarily because of the colorful patterns. The main portion of the piece is a single scale with a darker edge that marks its boundary as it contacts the other scales around it. I loved the lines that trace the general outline of the scale and wondered if they were like the rings of a tree that could be counted to determine the age of the turtle. It certainly appeared to me that as this guy grew, his scales got bigger and, at some point, left an indentation that marked the end of a specific life period. I also marveled at his toughness. Something may have tried to eat him and, if so, perhaps their teeth punctured the main scale causing it to break and form a depression.
For my Armor composition, I slid the camera over to the left, switched the orientation to horizontal, and recomposed. While the pattern on the left scale is quite distinctly different from the pattern on the right, artistically, I felt that they worked well together.
I loved the pattern created by the yellows and oranges in Shield. For this piece, I composed down his spine. I loved how the top color blobs appeared to be being pushed away from the area where the two scales meet. As if the force of the bottom scale colliding with the top scale caused everything to shoot outward. The design of the lines in the top scale increase that feeling by having the appearance of waves that grow out and away from the epicenter.
As I was headed towards the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum, I came across the box turtle in my Red Eye piece. He was just sitting there in the grass not moving. I’ve posted before about being an opportunistic wildlife shooter and this was a great opportunity. He appeared to be fine with me being around him and only got a little concerned one time when I pushed down a blade of grass (using a stick) that was leaning on his back. I started creating images from about six to eight feet away and then gradually kept working closer to him. I was using a knee pad and had the tripod as low as it would go (it basically sets on the ground as I don’t use a center post). I felt like I needed to be laying on the ground, but it was wet from rain we had the previous night, and I didn’t have anything to lay on. I seriously considered it, but the thought of wet clothes and being bitten or stung by fire ants caused me to try something else. I got down as far as I could while still being able to see the viewfinder and then used Live Preview to focus the lens. I had tried that on one other occasion and didn’t care for the results, but this time it worked great.
I placed his eye on the left most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. I loved the reds in his eye and the oranges and yellows on his body. Being at eye level really makes a difference in a nature composition. I would have preferred a clean foreground, but this is a natural environment so I can live with the grass.
Part 2 is a continuation of the Abstract Canna Lilies posts from the same plant group in the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum. To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 1, click here.
I was called over to the lily in my Undulating composition by its bold colors. In fact, this flower had the most attractive colors out of any I had seen blooming from this group all season. But, I was even more impressed with the pattern they created. I loved how the petals felt like waves rolling away from and crashing back into the center. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops and surface texture to be seen.
Inner Smile is essentially the vertical companion to Undulating. Though the pattern the colors form is the same, it does have a different feel when viewed vertically. Thanks to the high level of detail, individual dew drops and surface texture can be seen here as well.
I can’t even remember how many times I’ve looked for a composition using the palm tree in my Waggie Windmill piece. I have always felt that it held an artistically pleasing creation waiting to be uncovered, but over the years I’ve wandered the Hopeland Gardens grounds, I never found the right combination (i.e., too much wind, poor lighting, bent or broken fronds, etc.). But on this particular morning, all the pieces fell into place. The fronds were being backlit by the morning sun, the wind was calm, and the fronds had no imperfections. I loved the gorgeous green and yellow colors and the nearly perfect geometric pattern. Mother Nature even gave me a bonus – dew drops. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to reveal the beauty I knew was there, and I quickly took advantage of it before any of the key ingredients were lost.
I loved how the light was filtering through the layers and creating an orange tone in my Smoked piece. I discovered these mushrooms growing on a tree in Hopeland Gardens near the spot where all the green tree frogs were found earlier in the year. There were quite a few of them sprouting at various heights and in different areas. I walked around the tree checking compositions and framings until I was sure that I wanted to create with this group.
It seemed to have quite a lot of visible particles and/or dirt on the surfaces so I blew on it to try to remove some of the debris (as I’ve previously posted, I normally like to clean subjects in the field). This thing had a ton of bugs inside it and they started pouring out of every nook and cranny. Ants, maggot looking worms, flies, and who knows what else. I was quite surprised by how many bugs steadily streamed past me, but it must have something that they want or need. Or maybe they just liked it because it was stinky and smelled like it was rotten. It took a couple of times to expel the fragments and each time progressively fewer bugs emerged.
I wasn’t able to capture the coolest thing that happened. While I was between compositions, it started to emit something that looked like smoke. Likely some type of pollen, the substance was thick enough to where the inside of the mushroom appeared to be on fire.
Frilly was composed using mushrooms from the same group as Smoked. I loved the lacy edges and soft flaps under their surfaces. My artistic goal was to capture the layers of ornate rolls and pleated edges as they wind their way across the frame.
The sap in my Bubbles composition consists of several drops. I liked the shapes that were created by the drops merging with each other and flowing through one another. Because I really liked aspects of the top drop, I placed it on the upper left crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. I loved the smoky ribbon that winds its way through that drop and the colors and patterns it has pulled in. The most unusual feature of these drops is the amount of tiny bubbles above the top drop. They are difficult to see in the larger version, but if you look between the milky layers above the drop you will notice them. No other drops or runs of sap I saw had that. I also liked the refraction in the bottom drop with its reds, yellows, and blues.
Regular readers may recall my posts on using busy backgrounds and how I normally avoid them. My Black Eyes piece is yet another example of where I wanted an at least somewhat busier background. I specifically placed the flowers in the foreground so that they would be a bit lower in the frame allowing another group of flowers several feet behind them to fill up the background. The background flowers have almost been dissolved into simple colors, but they retain just enough shape to tell that they are the same variety as those in the foreground. My artistic goal for this was to capture a simple, pretty scene in the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum.
White blossoms on a small tree called to me from across the Rye Patch lawn. I’ve never seen a bloom like these in that area before, but I don’t think that it has been planted there for very long. In fact, the tree itself was only a couple of feet taller than I am. The honey bees just loved the flowers and were all over them. After more closely examining one, I loved the star shaped stigma surrounded by the bright orange and yellow anthers and filaments. For my Stigma Star composition, I utilized the stigma as my focal point and placed it on the right most line using the rule of thirds (just a little off center). I wanted to keep as many of the anthers in the frame as possible so the lens was moved slightly right to accommodate that aesthetic desire. The high level of detail allows surface textures on the stigma and anthers to be seen.
After successfully creating a macro version of one of the flowers, I wanted my Tree Flowers composition to show them blooming on the tree. I had to fight a bit more wind to get it, but luckily there was enough light to where I could keep my shutter speed under a second while maintaining a decent depth of field setting. Interestingly, it appears that only one of the flower’s petals has a fuzzy/furry edge. The high level of detail allows individual hairs (around a petal edge) and surface textures to be seen.
The sap in Double Drop got my attention because of its shape. It looked a little precarious as well, and I thought that it might fall off at any moment. I framed the run on a bit of an angle so that it wasn’t so aesthetically static. It reminded me of the glass I saw once at the end of a glass blower’s pipe during a demonstration in Jamestown, Virginia. I loved the crystalline look and the colorful refractions and reflections.
In the smaller sized images, Stuck looks a bit like a messy, big pile of sap. But, in the larger print sizes it really comes to life (unfortunately, this web site’s large display size doesn’t do it justice. However, my POD site has the ability to show a portion of an image at 100% magnification which is more than enough to bring all those hidden details out. Click on the purchase link above to view this at my POD site or contact me if you would like details on how to access that functionality). I liked all of the various shapes and colors in the sap (especially the darker areas and the different brown hues). There are intricate reflections being pulled, warped, and stretched all over the surface areas as well as sun spots glistening from the surfaces and creating colorful refractions. There is so much to discover that you will likely find something that you previously haven’t seen each time your eye wanders around the frame.
While it isn’t a vertical companion, Piles is similar to Stuck. It includes the sap featured in Stuck, but I pulled back a little so that the entire area both above and below was captured. The same caveat applies here as well and it simply can’t be fully appreciated without viewing it at larger sizes.
I was attracted to the sap in my Flat Drop piece primarily because of its shape. It seems to be expanding horizontally and getting wider instead of longer. Which is curious because gravity should be pulling it down. I also liked the color striations and patterns inside the sap.
The run of sap in Crystal Streak caught my eye because of how clear (almost like glass) it was. I decided to frame it diagonally for several aesthetic reasons. First, it was so skinny that placing it vertically wasn’t nearly as visually interesting. Secondly, the gap created by the moss and bark added visual interest when placed beside it diagonally, but seemed to take away from it when vertical. And finally, the moss seemed to create a diagonal bed for the run to lay on with open bark areas in opposite corners (which didn’t exist when it was turned vertically). Even though it is thin, there are some nice colorful refractions and reflections.
With a bit more golden hour light on the scene in my Light Catchers composition, I moved the lens down the tree a little. Essentially, I placed the tip of the top drop on the first upper crossing line using the rule of thirds. That drop is also at the end of the sap run in Crystal Streak, and I loved how it was throwing light on the bark beside it. I also liked the random, abstract shape of the larger blob near the bottom of the frame and the fact that they are located diagonally from each other with the moss covered gap in the bark connecting them. Both areas have wonderfully colored reflections and refractions (with the top drop having rainbow like colors) as well as sunstars.