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.
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 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.
I was initially attracted to the rose bud in my Wet Paint piece by the colors, which will not be a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for a while. Those gorgeous oranges and reds were appealing from the entrance door all the way across the Rose Garden at the Rye Patch. As I got closer to the subject, my artistic vision was to add to my Naturally Abstract gallery by focusing on a specific section of the bud. One of the things that fascinates me about macro photography is how just being physically close to something while simultaneously using magnification can break it down into simple colors and lines. In this case, to the point of not even being able to tell that it’s a flower. I love that, and to achieve it, I composed this at two times life-size. There was a bit of wind the morning I created this and, while I had a Plamp holding the bud, I lowered the F-stop to gain back a little shutter speed. Doing that further reduced the already razor thin depth of field, but that also amplified the aesthetic effect I wanted. The colors reminded me of paint, as if someone had pulled a brush across the frame, and the tiny dew drops that completely cover the surface provide a wet look.
With all of the azalea flowers on the north east side of the Aiken County Historical Museum, I was certain that I could find a worthy subject among them. I used the edge of an azalea petal to create the naturally abstract composition in my Curtain piece. My artistic vision was to split the image diagonally where one part featured the petal’s edge and the flower it belonged to while the other section is an entirely different azalea blossom. That took quite a bit of exploring blooms and trying different angles until I found a flower that had the colors I wanted behind it with an edge that wasn’t burned, discolored, or chewed up. Additionally, the edge had to be far enough away from the details in the center that they would dissolve into colors even at a high F-stop, which was required to keep most of edge sharply in focus. Of course, composing at two times life-size helped because the depth of field is quite shallow. Even with that, surface texture along the petal edge can be seen.
I was pulled over to the magnolia tree in a neighbor’s yard where I found the blossom in my Magnolia Flame piece by all of the flowers on the ground. From a distance, it looked like there was a layer of pink surrounding the entire base of the tree. I thought I might be able to create a naturally abstract composition from the flowers that had fallen off, but as I got closer it became clear that the remnants didn’t completely cover the grass and they were in fairly poor shape. Not wanting to come home empty handed, I searched the branches for a new, better subject. This particular bloom was fresh with excellent colors that drew me right in. The shape that the petals formed immediately made me think of a flame (as if the fire from a candle was burning in a gorgeous pink tone). Even though it was shot wide open with a very shallow depth of field, details including the surface texture and pollen can be seen.
One of the things I like about the south is that flowers are still blooming in early fall. Of course, it doesn’t feel much like fall during that time when the high temperatures remain in the upper 80’s. As usual, the colors of the subject in my Spiny piece are what attracted me to it. I found this flower in the front garden near the south wall of the Aiken County Historical Museum (i.e., next to where Newberry and New Lane streets meet) and it appeared to be fairly fresh. It was also quite wet with morning dew. All that water helps calm down the sharp spikes found across most of the flower’s surface. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the center of the flower in the frame slightly to the left of center horizontally and nearly centered vertically. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops as well as tiny hairs and spines to be seen.
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.