The new, larger mullein plant continued to grow during the time I created the image in the first post of this series. In fact, it was likely seven feet tall when I composed my Hairy Stamen piece. Just like the first plant, the second one also had flowers that bloomed. Because I liked the artistic feel of the scene, I selected a subject that had a fuzzy stalk in the middleground. Helping that decision was the fact that the flower itself was fresh and nice looking (i.e., it was clean and free of odd looking, dark colored substances that were on several other blooms). I knew that the leaves and stalks had lots of hair on them, but I was surprised by how furry the flowers themselves were. And, upon seeing the stamen at nearly two times life-size, I was intrigued with the amount and length of the hairs they had. My artistic goal, from then on, was to ensure that they received the attention by using the center group of them as my focal point. Though not completely in the zone of sharpness or nearly as hairy, I like how the lower stamens help provide balance. The high level of detail allows tiny individual hairs to be seen.
Sometimes you just have to give nature some help, which was the case the morning I composed the pieces in this post. While surveying the area where I had found one years ago, I discovered two gladiolus plants next to each other that were lying flat on the ground. They were both dead to the world and did not have the ability to stand on their own. I have no idea what happened to them though an animal may have knocked them over, or perhaps it was the wind, or maybe their blossoms just got too heavy to hold up. At any rate, it seemed like a real shame to have that much beauty going to waste. One stalk was fairly tore up and the flowers were not in good shape at all, and the second had a couple of pretty decent looking blooms as well as others that were being overrun by ants. I picked up the better of the two so that I could examine the flowers a bit closer. After I felt that a composition existed, I tried to get it balanced or propped up high enough to where I could comfortably get my lens on it, but that didn’t work – it just fell right back down again. So I got my plamp out and, after cleaning as many of the ants off from it as I could, I connected one of the clamps so that it would keep the plant from falling over.
After effectively bringing the plant back to life, I searched for an artistically pleasing flower. For my Reincarnated composition, I placed the center stalk of the stigma on the upper, leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds. Then while keeping the stigma at that location in the frame, I maneuvered the camera around to where the anthers had approximately the same amount of space to their respective side. I focused on the stigma because it felt too prominent against the pink background to ignore. The extremely shallow depth of field didn’t allow much else to fall into the zone of sharpness, and I wouldn’t argue too much against this being classified as naturally abstract. However, the uniformity of the filaments, anthers, and stigma stalks (i.e., three, three, and three) helped convince me not to do that. The high level of detail allows tiny hairs and texture to be seen.
While scouring the best remaining, ant-free blooms, I found one that I liked. I decided to move the plamp into a position that would continue supporting the weight of the stalk and hold the flower steadier since the wind had started to pick up as the morning ticked away. I focused at the top of the stigma here as well and that worked out pretty good considering the angle of the anthers. I like how they slowly fade away. I was also pleased with how the filaments blended right into the background of my Stance piece because it creates the illusion that the anthers are floating. Tiny hairs and texture can be seen here too thanks to the high level of detail.
I don’t normally see two wandering Jew flowers growing so close to one another. In fact, this was the very first time I had ever seen a pair that had petals touching each other, and their proximity caused me to see a familiar pattern in my mind’s eye. Taken as a whole, the outside petals on both sides appear to create the shape of butterfly wings. I didn’t want the wings to feel centered in the frame, so I left a little more space above and on the right side of the petals. That caused the flowers to be placed in the frame where the left flower’s core/center is very near the lower, leftmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. With the anthers scattered around in different groups as well as being considerably above the surface of the petals (especially considering the shallow depth of field), I selected the rope-like strands that grow out of the filaments as my focal point. That aesthetic decision simultaneously forced the anthers to be out of focus and enhanced the surface of the petals including the pollen that had fallen on them. The high level of detail allows texture, dew drops, and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My artistic vision for Spread Your Wings was to capture how the honeysuckle petals reminded me of wings. In my mind’s eye, what I saw upon discovering these subjects was the familiar shape of arched bird wings as they are flying. I placed the petals so that they opened up horizontally and flowed across the frame. As it was early morning and I was on the north side of the museum building, I was working without much sunlight. Even so, I searched for an angle that gave me the darkest possible background so that the white petals would pop against it. Since there was no way to ignore the stamens or stigmas, I focused on the anther of the first (and tallest) stamen and let everything else fall where it was in the zone of sharpness. That worked out pretty good because I really like being able to see all the tiny little hairs that run up the flower and out to the petal edges. The high level of detail also allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My Peachy composition allows you to look right down the throat of this pastel colored flower. Being a color junkie, the pale pinks, oranges, and greens are not what I normally look for. But, as I’ve previously posted, that’s a good thing. Sometimes the more subdued colors are a nice change of pace (especially if they are different from what you usually see and even better if they are a departure from your typical palette). You can think of it as expanding your horizons or simply trying something new. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the anther farthest to the left on the upper, leftmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. I then focused on the larger foreground anther on the right side which created good sharpness across all of them. Individual pieces of pollen on the anthers and filaments can be seen due to the high level of detail.
Pink Paradise was composed looking right down the flower’s throat as well, but the colors are decidedly different from Peachy. They are much more bold and saturated as well as satisfying to my color junkie needs. The gorgeous pinks and reds are a nice complement to the bright yellows and greens, and one of my artistic goals was to feature them as much as possible. To accomplish that desire, I found an angle that would allow those colors to fill the top of the frame while lifting the stamen up and off of the bottom. I also wanted to hold the anthers near the yellows as their darker colors are naturally enhanced against the more vibrant tones. While I used the first foreground anther as my focal point, the extremely shallow depth of field, when shooting at two times life-size, only allowed the zone of sharpness to extend just behind it to the middleground anthers. Even so, the high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I was attracted to the flower in my Orange Curls piece because it was so different from what a normal daylily looks like. It was immediately apparent that any composition using this subject would produce an abstract. Since it was the only one in the area, and I didn’t have anything else to compare it to, I can’t say if this particular type of flower usually grows in this manner. Perhaps it was lacking something or deformed in some way. Whatever the case, I loved all the loopy, wavy lines Mother Nature endowed it with. The stigma has character as well and is bent and curled like it had been abused. Though the anthers aren’t as easy to see because they have the same color as the petals, I did place one at the lower, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. I then used that anther as my focal point. The high level of detail allows tiny dew drops to be seen.
After having seen the gorgeous oranges and reds in my Marmalade piece from several feet away, I could hardly wait to get the tripod moved and setup in front of this subject. My main objective was providing enough space above the anthers for those attractive colors to be on full display. Strangely enough, while I wasn’t concerned with the rule of thirds and didn’t even initially check the grid lines during framing, I actually put the anther farthest to the left on the lower, leftmost crossing line. Which made me wonder if I’m starting to intrinsically see and compose that way. I also liked the subtle blues in the anthers and their complementary blacks against the yellows. Surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
The background of the daylily in Exquisite Fat was being backlit by the morning sun. Those golden tones lighting up the petals created an irresistible beacon that drew my eyes and attention right to it. I loved how the chicken fat along the petal edges, with their gorgeous colors, formed a V. I placed the anthers where they were lifted up off the bottom while keeping additional space above them because one of my primary artistic desires was getting as much as I could of the backlit petals in the frame. To ensure that I was able to sharply capture the anthers, focus stacking was used. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My artistic vision for Fat Liner was to, once again, utilize the chicken fat as much as I could. I decided to place it along the edges of the frame so that it almost formed a border. I spent time adjusting angles and the distance from the lens to the subject until I felt I had maximized what the flower was able to give me while also considering the relative positions of the stamen. Just like everything else in photography, ultimately, it was about making compromises (i.e., giving up one thing to get something else). While not really caring where the anthers were with regard to the grid lines, using the rule of thirds, I got lucky with their placement. The bottom one third line cuts right through the main group of anthers, and the outlier touches the rightmost one third line. I also feel that I was fortunate in that the arcs created by the filaments share similarities with those in the petals.
Most of my rose works are from the Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg, and I’ve written about the gardens and adjacent areas in previous posts. It’s a great resource to have relatively close by. Too much time had passed since I last visited, so I decided a road trip was in order. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a single subject worthy of closer inspection in any section of the roses I initially examined. I think the early Spring with the warm weather and then the hard freeze caused a lot of subtle problems with our flora. After checking out all the gardens on the east side, I decided to head toward the ponds. That was a good decision because I walked right up on a part of the gardens that didn’t exist the last time I had been there. A whole new section of daylilies had been planted and they were looking really good.
The colors in my Garden Gem piece immediately drew me in. The pastels combined with the oranges, yellows, and greens were all very attractive. The most prominent outside anthers were placed on the upper crossing lines, using the rule of thirds, so that the stamen came up into the foreground from the throat of the flower. I focused on the rightmost foreground anther and let everything else fall where it was in the zone of sharpness. The high level of captured detail allows texture and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I simply could not deny the bright yellows of the daylily in Outreach, and they, by themselves, forced me to create it. Artistically, the sweeping arcs of the filaments and being able to see them from their origination point in the flower’s throat coming out into the foreground of the frame was my highest priority. And while I didn’t care that much where the anthers were in relation to any of the grid lines, using the rule of thirds, the center of the group is very near the rightmost lower crossing line. In fact, I used that particular anther as my focal point which tends to subtly increase the importance of its placement. Sometimes we just get lucky and other aesthetic concerns drive a composition into a familiar layout without consciously trying. Surface textures on the anthers can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
Thanks to the time I spent with Bob Yonce and the wonderful daylilies he grows on his farm, I was aware of chicken fat. Upon finding the flower in my Chiffon piece, I immediately wanted to feature that aspect of it by prominently placing it along the edges of the frame. Because the anthers were in such a nice tight grouping, I placed them so that the bottom was very near the lower, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. Those two artistic decisions also allowed the filaments to arch up and out of the flower’s throat and the ribs in the main petal to arc up and out as it stretches upward. Here too, the high level of detail allows surface textures and pollen to be seen.
The gorgeous purple colors in Excitingly Grape grabbed my attention and held it. I also liked how the inner colors form an ellipse as they transition from a light purple, to white, then yellow, and finally green. The anthers were in a group here as well so I placed the anther farthest to the right on the upper, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. That particular angle caused the arched rib lines behind the anthers, that emanate in the background, to come up and out from the flower’s throat into the middleground. And the flow of the stamen and stigma arcs echo those lines. The diagonal lines in the foreground pleats act as short leading lines that lead to the focal point. To ensure that I had good sharpness on that area as well as the other anthers, I used focus stacking. That aesthetic decision also allowed me to keep the stigma in the zone of sharpness. Surface textures and tiny dew drops along the anther edges are both visible due to the high level of captured detail. This was one of my favorites from the outing and would have made the trip worthwhile all by itself.
I was attracted to my Wet Spiderwort piece by how nicely the yellow anthers popped against the complementary blues. But, as is often the case, upon viewing the scene at nearly two times life-size, I discovered something even more enticing. I loved how the water drops had formed in and around the anthers and stigma. By dialing back the already shallow depth of field, I could have reduced the detail in the background, however, my desire to hold a selection of anthers and the water drops sharply in focus outweighed any other aesthetic priorities. Further, I like how the drops on the petals add to the overall soaked feel. To place them in an artistically pleasing location within the frame, the largest drops in the group of anthers were concentrated near the left most, bottom crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and they all touch (or are split by) one of the horizontal or vertical grid lines. The high level of captured detail allows textures and drop reflections to be seen.
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.
Perhaps the gardeners that care for the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum dug up the flowers that produced the bloom in my Translucent composition and replaced them with the plants that produced the flower in Quiet. The two flowers were from the same spot but their appearances are fairly dissimilar. I was attracted to this lily because the colors were different from the normally loud schemes I find and have composed. The softer, subtler, more pastel yellows, subdued whites, and gently curved anthers all produce a calmer, soothing feel which is nice (once in a while). It’s like listening to George Winston every now and then when you normally have Dokken, Judas Priest, and Van Halen playing.