My Global piece is all about the big bubble, and it is so much taller and larger than the previous bubbles that the extremely shallow depth of field isn’t deep enough to keep the bottom of it within the zone of sharpness. That being said, one of my artistic goals was to ensure that the smaller bubble on the left-hand side stayed within the frame. Fortunately, doing that placed the subject so that the rightmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, pretty much bisects it. I also positioned it very close to being centered vertically. The specific spot in the pool where this was composed was out in the more open area, and, as such, it benefitted from the blues in the sky reflecting off the surface.
To increase the apparent depth of field for my Bubbles On Bubbles piece, it was focus stacked. That allows thousands of tiny bubbles on the surface to be seen while keeping the larger bubbles within the zone of sharpness. While not as bright as the tones in Global, this also had the advantage of picking up more of the blues from the reflection of the sky. The shadows and particles that surround the bubbles remind me of how gravity pulls in nearby objects as planets form. In fact, throughout the entire time during the composition of these works other bubbles on the surface of the pool (some of which I had planned to use as subjects) were growing, merging, and even popping as they floated around.
I’ve written about the large reflecting pool in Hopeland Gardens in previous posts, and my regular readers may have surmised that there are others on the grounds. In fact, there are four different pools. Two of them are near the main pool and can be found on either side of it, while the other one is lower and south of the main pool. The lower pool is long and not as wide, and it doesn’t have a fountain feature. On the morning I composed the pieces in this series of posts, the lower pool was nearly completely covered with green algae. Upon a closer examination of the surface, I discovered lots of bubbles and interesting naturally abstract scenes.
I was attracted by the bubbles and the random strands of algae in my Frothy piece. Most of the surface has a chaotic – all over the place – feel which tends to cause areas with structure (i.e., the more defined, circular nature of the bubbles) to be highlighted. I found it to be an interesting mixture of organization within disorder, and, as I’ve previously mentioned, I like dichotomous abstracts.
There is still a good bit of disarray on the surface of my Greenie piece, but with the focal point being on a larger/taller bubble combined with an extremely shallow depth of field, it quickly lost much of its detail. One of my artistic goals was to keep the swoop to the left of the bubble within the frame. I placed the bubble to where the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, cuts through it a little to the right of center. Though not centered vertically, both the upper and lower one third lines dissect the bubble as well. I love discovering happy little aspects during post processing, and, in this case, the reflection on the bubble that resembles a smile (giving it a similar appearance to a smiley face) was an unexpected treat.
The big leaves in the swampy area at Hopeland Gardens make wonderful subjects in the fall when their colors start to change. I have written about and posted several examples over the years because I love the patterns that can be found as they begin to expire (e.g., Fire Veins, Lava Leaf, and Closing In). When they are backlit by the golden tones of a morning sun, as the leaf in my Cessation piece is, they are able to elevate my excitement to another level. As I scan their locale looking for subjects to investigate from the trail at the top of the berm between the swamp and the pond, backlit leaves with these colors act like a beacon that my eyes immediately lock on to. At that point, there is a limited amount of time available to create a composition. The window is short lived due to the fact that the sun has to rise above the trees that keep the swamp partially shaded, and by the time it does, there is very little golden light remaining. I loved the last vestiges of Chlorophyll in the green pockets and tracing around the outline of the yellows and oranges, and I was captivated by the thought that Mother Nature will paint a different pattern on every leaf that reaches this stage of life. This leaf is very likely the only one that will ever look exactly as it does. The high level of detail allows texture and tiny leaf veins to be seen.
I’ve previously posted about the fountain system in Hopeland Gardens that used to have flowing water in it. For most of the summer, the larger, upper portion was nearly dry. We had enough rain and run off to put some water in the basin, and it didn’t take long before the duckweed covered the entire surface. By putting part of my tripod in the water I was able to compose my Duckweed piece from directly above the aquatic plants. I was attracted to how random (in size, angle, and position) the fronds were as well as how they formed an unmistakably abstract pattern. Another random aspect of the composition is that they aren’t all perfect. In fact, it appears that some of them have deteriorated or perhaps they’ve been eaten by some type of a bug that stripped their surface away and caused veins to be exposed. While small in size and sandwiched between leaves, I also liked the reflections of trees and clouds on the water.
I’ve written about the large reflecting pool in Hopeland Gardens in previous posts. On this particular morning, the crepe myrtle was in bloom alongside the smaller reflecting pool. The colorful reflections from leaves on the nearby trees, the sky, and the crape myrtle blossoms on the dancing water caught my attention as I was searching for subjects. As I normally only carry a single lens with me (unless I’ve made plans to be in an environment where not having additional glass could cost me an opportunity), the macro rig was mounted on my camera. The long lens, light loss, motion, and time of day meant that some adjustments were needed (e.g., ISO and F-stop) so that enough light could be gathered to create an aesthetically pleasing composition while simultaneously slowing down the movement. I loved how not completely freezing the waves caused blending and mixing of the colors in my Time Warp piece and endowed it with an increased abstract feel. To enhance that effect and to get as much color as I could onto the sensor, I purposefully framed the scene on a diagonal. The randomly scattered bright spots are bubbles on the surface of the water.
The Aiken County Historical Museum has a “U” shaped driveway with crepe myrtle trees that adorn the inside edges. I had looked at and considered surface area compositions of the trees over the years, but never found anything that fully satisfied my artistic desires. Since the trees are immediately behind the parking spots (i.e., just on the other side of the driveway), they are easy to notice as soon as you get out of your car or while putting your gear together. On the morning that I composed the pieces in this post, the lighting and stage of bark shedding must have been perfect because the gorgeous colors and patterns that were previously underneath the bark instantly got my attention. I surveyed several trees looking for aesthetically pleasing designs and the best colorations before setting up the tripod.
The bright yellows and warm oranges in New Skin initially attracted me to this particular area of the tree. While framing the abstract pattern Mother Nature had painted and then exposed, I was reminded of a river with eddies and currents swirling around as if the colors themselves were flowing downstream from the top of the frame to the bottom. The high level of detail allows texture to be seen.
The randomly placed, splotchy, dappled areas in my Mottled piece made this abstract irresistible. That being said, I must confess that the color junkie in me loved the various shades of oranges and reds. This pattern felt more like a lava flow mixed with smoke or smoldering ashes as it oozes down through the frame. Texture can be seen here as well thanks to the high level of detail.
I didn’t initially see this abstract pattern because it was not yet fully exposed. Only a portion of it could be seen because the remaining area was covered with bark. However, the bark was quite loose and seemed to be just barely hanging on. My curiosity got the best of me, and I simply had to know what was under it. When I gave it a little tug, the bark slipped right off and revealed what you see here in my Hot Skull piece. I think that the gorgeous reds and really bright yellows exist because they have just been uncovered and haven’t had time to fade. I was thrilled with the coloration, but more enticing was the design that looked like the outline of a skull (with eye and nose sockets and clenched teeth). Seeing the reds and patterns with sharp tipped spikes instantaneously brought to mind flames and fire. Who knew that Mother Nature was a Ghost Rider fan? Cracks in the surface as well as texture can be seen here too due to the high level of detail.
I came across the strange growth in my Ground Goo piece just off the trail that runs along the side of the garage area on the east side of the Aiken County Historical Museum. The vibrant yellow color initially attracted me to it, but after getting a closer look, the sponge-like appearance, textures, and tiny fibers (almost like a spiderweb) were equally fascinating. It reminded me of a foam spray that expands after being expelled from its container (e.g., similar to a type of insulation). The darker brown and reddish strips lying at various angles under the goo are pine needles, and it appeared to be growing on or perhaps consuming them. I’m not entirely sure what the light green, flaky looking substance is underneath the yellow glop (or, for that matter, whether or not the glop is interacting with it or just growing over the top of it), but it looks similar to a type of moss that I’ve seen on trees. My artistic vision was simply to capture the unusual, random, abstract pattern the shapes, colors, and lines formed. The high level of detail allows various textures and tiny, hair-like strands to be seen.
There are some small bushes between the driveway and the east side of the building at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I’ve inspected the nice little blooms they produce for a composition several times over the years, but wasn’t ever satisfied with what I was able to create. My artistic goal was to fill the entire frame with the flower (something that is difficult to do because of their relatively diminutive size). However, on the morning I created my Bubbling Yellow piece, I found a bush that had a flower on it that was just a bit bigger than what I’ve previously come across. I placed the core of the flower slightly off center to that it could expand out and down toward the bottom of the frame. I was thrilled with the wet surfaces and dew drops that add additional visual interest, and I love all the loops and arcs.
Sometimes we have to work on a subject (or a group of subjects) over the course of several weeks before getting exactly what we want out of it. Even if you produce many different pieces and you aren’t happy with any of them, don’t give up when you know that there is a composition just waiting for you to find it. That’s the story behind my Flame On piece.
The subjects here were new to Hopeland Gardens, and I had been working about six of them every time I wandered the grounds. I tried numerous framing options and had taken home lots of images that I subsequently rejected. I would usually work them for a few minutes during a visit before moving on, so they were, in a manner of speaking, bothering me (i.e., I couldn’t quite get what I desired, but I felt it was there someplace). And every time that it didn’t work was difficult because they were very attractive to the color junkie in me due to their brilliant colors. The interesting thing is that you have to view them at the right angle. When the morning sun backlit them, the reds and pinks in the leaves lit up like flames and drew me in as if I was a moth. Each time that I reviewed and threw out images, I would come away with a better idea of what I wanted to try during my next opportunity. On the morning this was composed, I was sure that I could find an angle and position that would allow me to create what had eluded me for a couple of months. After cleaning up a few spider webs that were flailing around, I finally got the right lighting and wind conditions and found a distance and perspective that pleased my inner artist. I wanted to fill the frame with as many of the gorgeous flame-like leaves as I could, which, in and of itself, produced a more abstract feel. I considered the randomly placed dew drops a nice little bonus.
I was attracted by the blues and purples in my Wet Hydrangea piece, and I had been wanting to create an abstract macro composition that featured hydrangea for a long time. I searched over several bushes in Hopeland Gardens until I found a group of petals that just felt right artistically. The foreground petals as well as the layers beneath them were nicely laid out, and the wet surfaces both enhanced the saturation and increased the abstract feel at the same time. To bring a little sense of order to the scene, I placed the bud in the center of the foreground petals so that the rightmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected it. That also allowed the leftmost foreground petal to remain within the frame, which was an important aesthetic concern since it is the subject’s most prominent attribute. I also really like the abstract designs from the reflections off the petal’s wet surface. Then I used the bud as my focal point to amplify its relative importance. Because of the bud’s height, that brought many of the dew drops scattered around the petals into the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows texture to be seen.