I discovered the flora in my Scribbles piece in the front garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum (not far from where I park). I loved the random, naturally abstract lines formed by the edges of the leaves. I’m not really sure what this thing is, but it kind of looked like some type of interesting cabbage. Since I wanted to even out the light (i.e., bring down the highlights and brighten the darks), I had to try several different angles before finding one that was acceptable. Tiny hairs and surface textures can be seen.
I liked the naturally abstract design of the hairs and seeds in my Feathered piece. As they were in the big, back garden at the museum and the black-eyed Susan were still in bloom, I worked the scene until I found an angle that allowed me to use the flowers as a very nice, colorful background. I reduced the F-stop a little from my normal setting so that no details remained in the background, but not enough to where I lost a significant amount of sharpness on the seeds. I’m not really sure what type of flora the seeds are from, and I hadn’t ever come across any like them at the museum on prior trips. Surface textures, single strands of hair, and tiny dew drops are visible here.
While my Seeds piece is not quite a vertical companion to Feathered, it was composed using the same group. For this composition, I moved the camera closer to the subjects, rotated to a vertical orientation, and bumped the F-stop back up to ensure that I was able to capture all the fine details in the hairs. Along with the black-eyed Susans in the background, dew drops, single strands of hair, and surface textures can also be seen here.
Not many subjects were left and/or blooming in the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum where I found the flower in my Attached piece. Luckily, this flower was in pretty good shape. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition by focusing deep within the flower where the filaments and stigma originate. I also wanted to pull in some of the pinks and reds from the petals so I placed those colors in the background along the top and bottom of the frame. I liked how the greens in the center are being backlit causing that area to appear to be glowing. At nearly two times life size magnification, the depth of field is incredibly shallow.
I liked the naturally abstract design that the anthers created on the flower in my Anther Crossing piece. This is a different flower than the one in Attached, but still on the same plant. My artistic vision was to center the anthers in the frame horizontally while using an angle that allowed the filaments to streak up towards the corner on the right-hand side. At nearly two times life size magnification, the filaments dissolved into simple colors and shapes.
My Sweeping Pink piece was all about the naturally abstract design created by the flower’s petals. This is the same flower as the one in Anther Crossing. My artistic vision was to place the gap between the petals on a diagonal that runs from the lower left-hand side to the upper right-hand side. I liked how the petal’s surface on the left side of the gap has a rolling, wave-like appearance.
I loved the dark purples and reds in my Fire Pit piece. In my mind’s eye, the yellows, oranges, and reds in the center reminded me of fire. My artistic intent was to place a little bit of the really dark petal as a foreground border with strong flames searing above it while the filaments carry the anthers up through the blaze into the frame. The little deformation near the lower right-hand corner was perfect because it appears to be some type of glowing ember. A deflector was used to even out the light across the subject. Surface texture as well as lots of pollen can be seen.
I found the scene in my Singular Beauty piece quite interesting. First, it is not often that you are able to isolate a single stamen away from the others and the stigma. Secondly, the chicken fat coming into the frame from the lower right-hand side had a rather unique shape that added visual interest. I also appreciated how the curve of the filament is sort of echoed by a vein in the background petal. Without purposefully trying, the anther is essentially bisected by the left most one third line (using the rule of thirds). These days I do, on occasion, specifically align things, but many times, while composing, my artistic desires just naturally utilize lines from the rule of thirds. Tiny pieces of pollen can be seen here as well thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I was attracted to the textured features on the petal of the daylily in my Wrinkled piece. I loved the pleating, scrunched look and the dark orange and brown earth tones combined with the nicely contrasting bright yellows. As the petal’s rib nicely divided the naturally abstract patterns on the surface, I made the artistic decision to place the ridge on a diagonal that arcs up and out of the lower right-hand side corner. I subsequently used the furrow as my focal point. A deflector was used here as well to even out the light and allow more detail to be seen.
The canna lily in my Ribbon piece was another fairly large subject. Of course, I loved the bold colors, but more than that, I was enamored with the shape of the stamen and its naturally abstract patterns. In my mind’s eye, the curl of the stamen reminded me of how a ribbon on a present is sometimes formed into a coil to add a touch of artistic flair and a little extra love while wrapping it. The deflector was utilized here too, which, once again, brings up a concession management topic. When there is simply too much light on your subject, a deflector is a fantastic tool. However, additional shutter time will be needed with all other settings being equal (e.g., ISO and F-stop). Under windy conditions, reducing your available light may not work. In this case, using my preferred methods, with the last of the golden hour light nearly gone and the wind starting to pick up, patience was the only available tool in the bag. That and creating lots of images to sift through for the few that were perfectly stable. Surface textures and tiny pieces of pollen are visible within the frame.
I was attracted to the flower in my Feeling Purple piece by the gorgeous purples and greens. My artistic vision was to position the naturally abstract darker purple inner arc horizontally across the frame. The most difficult aspect of this was finding and keeping the angle that resulted in the most aesthetically pleasing image. To pull in the fantastic greens, I needed to look down into the core of the daylily, however, the stamen, and more importantly, the tips of the anthers wanted to creep up into the bottom of the frame. When you create at more than life size magnification, small amounts of subject movement can greatly affect your composition. With that in mind, the wind can also be a significant factor as it tends to manipulate your subject’s position (even when using a plamp). Once you can imagine what you want, keep checking the framing to ensure you’re capturing the desired result. Continue to reposition the camera as needed to maintain what you envisioned and hope that Mother Nature calms the wind down long enough to capture it (in this case, two and half seconds). Surface texture can be seen here thanks to the high level of detail.
I have always felt that canna lily petals have very nice naturally abstract patterns and shapes on them, and my artistic intent for Red Rain was to find an aesthetically pleasing arrangement of them. As the petals are curved, finding an area that is flat simply isn’t possible. Increasing the magnification helps a little because the slope is reduced as the surface area diminishes, but with a higher magnification the depth of field is shallower. As I’ve written in many previous blog posts, photography is about concession management. You likely can’t have everything you want, so you must accept the best you can get.
Some of the canna lilies at the Yonce Farm have very large stamens. The stamen in my Big Wing piece was almost the size of a petal on the canna lilies I see at Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure if they are a specific type of canna lily or Bob’s plants are just really happy with the soil conditions and grow bigger. At any rate, I loved the naturally abstract patterns of lines and shapes on the stamen as well as the colors. Individual pieces of pollen are visible too.
Once again, I loved the naturally abstract shapes and patterns on the canna lily in my Whirl piece, but my artistic intent was to create a composition that looked down into the flower. In my mind’s eye, doing that produced a swirl like effect almost like the shapes were being pulled down a vortex. Even the design of the stigma adds to that feeling with how it is curved and twisted. As the flower itself was primarily backlit, I used a diffuser to even the light out and allow a deeper look down into it.
My artistic vision for the flower in Rise Up was to create an abstract that featured lines. I used the petals along the bottom to create a border and then placed the filaments and stigma on an angle coming up from the lower right-hand corner into the frame. Additionally, the ribs and veins in the background originate from the same area and arch up and out into the frame in a similar manner. As the anthers were beyond the zone of sharpness, they dissolved down into shapes and colors.
I was attracted to the flower in my Petals piece by the gorgeous purples, but after seeing how nicely the colors of this daylily flowed combined with how the flower’s petals overlapped, I immediately knew that I wanted to create another naturally abstract composition using them. I placed the left side petal in the frame so that the edge of it weaves its way up diagonally. I also used the edge as my focal point. Surface textures can be seen here as well.
The stunning colors of the daylily in my Purple Passion piece were impossible to ignore. If this had been the only composition I was able to create that morning, I still would have felt that the trip had been worth it. This quickly became one of my all-time favorite daylily images. For me, there is so much to love about this: the gorgeous purples, magentas, reds, and greens, the pleating on the petals, and how the chicken fat rolls into the frame both near the center and along the bottom. Pollen and surface textures are easily seen as well.
For my Sun Kissed piece, I tried something that I had never done before with a daylily. This flower was very backlit by golden hour light with no other lighting source or deflector/reflector use. That really lit up the oranges and yellows in the background, but it also darkened portions of some anthers and caused others to nearly become silhouetted. Similarly, that artistic decision created what appears to be a glowing area in the center of the focal point anther and on the pollen that surrounds it. It was an interesting effect and one that I was determined to utilize.
The small stamen in my Unique piece all but forced me to create this composition. I don’t know why it had a single stamen that was A) so much smaller than the others and B) not with the other group. It was like an extra stamen or one that somehow had its growth stunted. I also liked how the anthers were grouped and had formed a triangle shape. I used an angle that placed the little stamen in the background between the arches of the normal stamens. I also liked the pink and oranges in the background and the chicken fat. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen here too.
The naturally abstract qualities of my Invader piece convinced me to create a composition of it. I’m not exactly sure what this is. It may have been some type of a fungus that attacked one of the daylilies. At first glance I thought I was seeing a cool looking spider web with lots of pollen or tiny drops of dew in and on it. Whatever it was, it appeared to be holding down one of the petals, an anther, and possibly even the stigma while potentially feeding off from its host. And, it definitely met my interesting criteria for what to point the camera at. Since it was on a lily, it also came with gorgeous colors. Very fine, tiny hairs and polyp looking things can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
My Origin piece was a bit of an experiment. I have created several daylily interior compositions over the years where I attempt to get the focal point as far down into the flower as possible. That, by itself, creates a naturally abstract result. However, none of my prior works have had a horizontal orientation. Here, the filaments (and where they originate from) are the main attraction – especially with their colors and curved shapes. I also loved how the anthers dissolved down into colors. Creating this one was fun.
I found the flora in my Weed Star piece in the front garden of the museum not that far from where I normally park. The naturally abstract design of the leaves on the head was simply irresistible. I placed it in the frame so that the lower one third line (using the rule of thirds) cut through the core of the star formation. That artistic decision also allows the leaves to expand up and out in a similar pattern. Tiny hairs along the leaf edges can easily be seen.
My Stormy piece would not have been possible without the use of the Frankenstein lens I wrote about in a previous post. It allowed me to get physically closer to the coneflower and really zoom into the center of the flower (e.g., this is close to three times life-size magnification). It also required an enormous amount of shutter time (10 seconds) due to light loss (i.e., the extender, time of day, and cloud cover) and a higher F-stop. I loved the naturally abstract design and the colors. Individual pieces of pollen and tiny hairs can be seen.
The magnification level used for my Indian Blanket piece was more than two times life-size. And, once again, I could not have composed this without the Frankenstein lens. I liked the randomness of the hairs in this naturally abstract scene (almost like someone scribbled them in). For aesthetic purposes, I framed it so that some additional reds were added to the corners. Tiny dew drops and individual hairs are visible as well.
I loved how the tip of the leaf in my Flame Spike piece almost glowed as if it was being lit from the inside. This is the very tip of one of the leaves from the same plant where I found a fallen berry that been stabbed earlier during the year. Of course, this is nearly at three times life-size magnification and wouldn’t have been possible without the Frankenstein lens. To amplify the brightness of the subject, I used an angle that looked into an area of the background that was in heavy shadow. I loved the colors and how Mother Nature is basically screaming at anyone looking at it to keep their distance. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen along the edges of the leaf.
The tree sap in my Nugget piece was essentially in the parking lot at Hopeland Gardens. In fact, I noticed it on a small tree just behind my vehicle as I was putting my gear together. So, it definitely got bonus points for proximity. However, it was exceedingly difficult from a lighting perspective, and one of the most difficult compositions I’ve faced in a long time. I used both a deflector (to calm down the highlights on the bumpy, modeled surface) and a reflector (to add golden light back on to the subject). From an artistic perspective, I felt that all of the reflections and refractions helped create a very nice abstract, and I loved the gorgeous oranges, yellows, and reds.
I found the naturally abstract scene in my Blues On Blues piece while exploring an aster at nearly two times life size magnification just outside the dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen scattered around all through the image.
On a warm, spring afternoon while walking along the Beaver Run Trail in Hickory Knob State Park, I decided to break off the path and head through the woods towards the Savannah River. After climbing down a rather steep bank, I discovered some interesting naturally abstract patterns in the clay about four feet from the water’s edge. I searched the shoreline for an aesthetically pleasing area (i.e., one without any roots, rocks, sticks, etc.) that also offered a nicely random mixture of patterns with the rusty reds, yellows, and cream colors. My artistic vision for Hickory Knob Shore was to create a vertical abstract that featured the aforementioned aspects in addition to the modelling and cracks.
In the big back garden at the museum, I discovered a type of iris that I had never seen before. I examined all of the viable blooms keeping in mind the different types of compositions that I was considering before settling on specific subjects. These flowers didn’t have the traditional beard that I normally see, and instead had what is apparently known as a crest.
For my Swish piece, my artistic vision was to create a horizontal abstract where the crest runs across the frame on a diagonal originating from the top left-hand corner. I loved the designs and patterns in the falls, their colors, and how they tend to accentuate the crest. I also liked the purple spots within the crest as they add a random quality. Tiny dew drops along the edges of the crest can be seen.
I liked how the crest in my Slithering Purple piece had a serpentine/winding look. My artistic vision was to create an abstract where the crest comes down into the frame diagonally from the top right-hand corner. I loved the colors and patterns on the falls here as well. While some of the dew drops are a bit larger on this iris, tiny ones can be seen along the edges and on the surface of the crest here too.
My Royal Accoutrements piece shows off more of the whole package as far as what these irises look like. While it still has some of the abstract falls, much more of the inner parts of the flower are on display. I found them to be quite intricate and pretty. In my mind’s eye, what looks like it could be a stamen reminded me of a scepter. Tiny drops of dew and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.