I discovered the growth in my Fungus Bubbles piece between two trees near the caretaker’s house in Hopeland Gardens. The odd bubble shapes on the surface convinced me that this would make a fine addition to my Naturally Abstract gallery. But it was challenging to compose due to its location. It was on the ground and getting that low usually increases the difficulty level all by itself. Having knee pads like those that roofers wear really pays off in situations like this since it relieves some of the physical strain on your body. The other factor was the fact that one of the trees was growing up and out on an angle above the fungus. That limited the working space even more because the camera lens would bump into the tree trunk while attempting to line up the sensor with the subject. With adverse conditions like that, you just have to break out your problem solving skills. Manipulate the tripod legs and make any necessary adjustments until you can frame an aesthetically pleasing scene. The high level of detail allows surface textures, reflections, refractions, and individual dew drops to be seen.
While exploring the shrubs and trees on the south side of the Rye Patch next to Berrie road, I was attracted to the scene in my Wind Down piece by the naturally abstract design of the vine. I refused to give up on capturing this even though Mother Nature tried hard to convince me that I should move on to another subject. She threw wind, cloud cover, and lighting changes at me, but I would not be deterred. It took more than an hour and over a hundred attempts to create. Composing anything that is connected to a bush or tree is always challenging when you only use natural light and even more so when the magnification level is increased. Their surface area is so large that the smallest amount of wind affects the branches and results in subject movement. Usually employing a plamp will only minimally increase stability since it’s not strong or large enough to counteract the movement of a branch or limb. Having patience becomes very important, which can be quite difficult because, more often than not, you feel that other, better subjects are being missed while you wait for the perfect conditions. If you are also under a time constraint, the pull to seek another opportunity is easily amplified inside your head. If you simply can’t fight that feeling, it sometimes works to convince yourself that there isn’t anything else as good as what you currently want by giving up on it temporarily. That is, complete your exploration of the remaining area and then come back. That doesn’t always work though, and I’ve left images with the intent to return without being able to (e.g., ran out of time, sun went down and I lost too much light, etc.). And I learned a long time ago to never think that you can come back another day. It might seem reasonable at the time, but, for me, that hasn’t ever worked.
The sunflower in my Spiked Teeth piece may have been planted with the help of Mother Nature. It was growing beneath the bird feeders in Hopeland Gardens and they are filled with sunflower seeds. After viewing the center of the flower at two times life-size magnification, my artistic vision was to create another naturally abstract composition that featured the sharp points and their spikes with pollen on, between, and surrounding them. This was a very difficult image to capture, but not because of anything technically challenging. Even though I was using a plamp to hold it, there was nearly constant movement. In fact, in one of my audio notes, I made the comment that it must be alive and moving under its own power. The wind speed wasn’t above where I usually pack up and go home, so it must have been due to the weight and size (i.e., large surface area) of the head relative to the stalk. I literally created hundreds of images just to get a couple of keepers.
I generally follow a circuitous route while exploring the Hopeland Gardens grounds. Over the years I’ve learned where I’ll likely have the best chance at finding something to point my camera at, and that changes depending on the season, the timeframe (e.g., early, mid, or late), weather patterns, etc. However, I will almost always make my way around the Dollhouse because when it is being properly tended to, the odds of discovering subjects are quite high. Such was the case the morning I created my Little Flowers piece. I couldn’t say when these were planted, but I didn’t remember seeing them on any prior trips around that area (maybe they were there, but they hadn’t yet bloomed). I was attracted to them by their vibrant colors and unique shape. They appear to bloom on top while their petals slope downward. My artistic vision was to capture both the flowers and the buds after lining them up with the gorgeous blue flowers in the background. To ensure that the background only consisted of colors, I had to compose nearly wide open. That didn’t allow for much depth, but, even with that, individual hairs and surface texture is visible.
Just a few feet north of where the previous flowers were growing, I composed my Icy Pink Flames piece. I had created a similar image from the same general location almost a month prior to composing this, so I thought another look at these flowers might be worth my time. I believe this may be a type of coneflower. Whatever it is, I loved the colors and naturally abstract patterns. In my mind’s eye, the florets looked like pink flames with light blue and purple tips. My artistic vision was to center it horizontally in the frame so that the flames could expand outward toward the edges. Thanks to the high level of captured detail, surface texture and individual hairs can be seen.
I was attracted to the coleus leaf in my Veins piece by the designs and patterns on its surface. I discovered this leaf in the same location as the leaves I wrote about in a previous post. <URL to Macro Abstract Coleus Leaves At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC> Once again, I felt that this scene would be a welcome addition to my Naturally Abstract gallery. My initial artistic vision was to capture the spatter-like features since they have an undeniably abstract feel. But, in the process of doing that, Mother Nature modified the appearance of the leaf. The golden hour light washing over the cuticle created a whole new set of desirable characteristics. I normally prefer even lighting, and I composed several images that didn’t have any sunrise highlights. However, in this case, the addition of the light and shadows along the inner veins accentuated their depth and dimensions. Beyond that, I felt that it added another abstract layer underneath the spots along the arches. I very much preferred the combination of the abstract layers. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I was attracted to the colors and naturally abstract feel of the coleus in my Zapped piece. I discovered this in a pot on the side of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum in Hopeland Gardens. I’ve created several compositions from the same area over the past couple of years so I normally spend some time exploring the leaves when they are showing off their best colors. My artistic vision was to place the vein on a diagonal across the frame as if it were conducting a surging bolt of energy that was lighting up the surrounding area and brightening the browns into gorgeous reds. I loved how the colors were brightest next to the vein and then gradually decrease in intensity as they flow away from it – exactly how you would expect charged particles to behave. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs to be seen.
I loved the pattern formed by the colors in my Purple Lightning piece. In my mind’s eye, I instantly saw a flash of lightning. My artistic vision was to place the high voltage spark on a diagonal as it shoots across the frame. This is another prime example of why I love macro photography. Finding scenes like this gives me motivation and encouragement to continue getting up before the sun, pack my heavy equipment around for hours, and keep searching for similarly enticing subjects. I also find it amazing that Mother Nature paints images of events she creates. Surface texture and individual hairs are visible here too thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I discovered the garden spider and web in my Spun piece while exploring the Rose Garden at the Rye Patch. As soon as I saw all of the squiggly lines on the backside of the web, I instantly knew that I had to capture this scene for my Naturally Abstract gallery. My artistic vision was to fill as much of the frame as I could with the wonderfully stitched web pattern. While not too easy to see, the spider is actually on the other side of the web, which increased both my desirability to create a composition and my excitement level. If you look real close on a larger image, you’ll be able to see some legs and her abdomen. Since the focal point was the web itself and the depth of field was fairly shallow, not much detail in the background remained. That said, individual strands of silk and hairs on her legs are visible.
While making my way around the pond that used to have the dock in it at Hopeland Gardens, I decided to venture down closer to the water. The shape of the flora in my Vein Wheel piece drew me in to it. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it looked like a round leaf. My artistic vision was to add to my naturally abstract collection by getting close enough to the leaf so that the veins emanate out into it from the center point like the spokes of a wheel. I placed the center point of the veins very close to the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, so that they could stretch across the frame from an aesthetically pleasing position. I also loved the greens (especially the darker tones that remind me of jade). Surface textures and a couple of dew drops are visible thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I discovered the flower in my Hypnotic piece in the little garden area on the side of the Dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure what it is, but it has characteristics similar to a coneflower, albeit with lots of florets. With its naturally abstract features, I immediately felt that it would be a welcome addition to that gallery. My artistic vision was to place the cone-like spikes in the center of the frame and let the florets build their way out (i.e., up, down, left, and right) from that point. Interestingly, the florets appear to become physically larger as their distance from the center increases. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops to be seen.
I was searching for naturally abstract scenes with patterns that I hadn’t previously captured when I came across the flower in my Floaters piece. My artistic vision was to compose this in a way that the anthers felt like they were floating. Two aspects worked in my favor to accomplish that goal. First, the extremely shallow depth of field when composing at two times life-size. That alone will dissolve most of the middleground and background details down into simple colors and shapes. Secondly, the filaments were quite close in color to the background which makes hiding them in plain sight easier. I’m not sure that it qualifies as being minimalist, but I wouldn’t argue with someone who felt that it did. Within the zone of sharpness, surface texture and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
I was attracted to the main flower in my Swept Up piece by all of the arcs. There are actually two flowers in the scene, but they merged together so seamlessly that you can’t really tell. I loved all of the curves; the petals, stigma, filaments, and anthers are all arched. From an aesthetic standpoint, my goal was to frame the stigma and stamens using an angle that made them appear to have similar curls. I also liked how the pollen breaks up the anthers and provides a little more visual interest. While I didn’t purposefully use any rule of thirds, the top left anther is very close to the upper leftmost one third crossing line.