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.
After having worked the Chocolate Garden, I returned to the Butterfly Garden to give it a better going over. I had basically picked the low hanging fruit in the morning, but after lunch, I didn’t feel as pressed for time. That allowed me to go a little slower, take additional time to examine more perspectives, and create multiple frames of any given subject. Luckily the shooting conditions were quite favorable for midday (i.e., I had a diffused sky with periods of rain and not too much wind). I loved the size and gorgeous red colors of the buds in my Butterfly Garden Buds composition. I maneuvered around them until I could find an angle that 1) allowed me to keep the buds separated, and 2) have them originate from the top right corner and come down and out into the frame. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture and a rain drop can be seen.
Of the images I created featuring the flower in my Diagonal piece, I liked this one the best. I had a couple of initial objectives for this composition. First, I concentrated on the anthers and used them as my focal point. Secondly, I wanted a petal to run diagonally across and down the frame from left to right with the sharp tip ending near the lower corner. While I had resolved those two intentions, I felt that it could be improved with an additional change. I believed that it would be artistically stronger to force the majority of the filaments to originate within the frame (that is, to make it possible to see where they were coming from vice entering the frame from outside of it). So, I found a perspective that brought them back while maintaining the aforementioned goals.
I concentrated on the structures above the unopened disc florets in my Slit composition. In my mind’s eye, the center area reminded me of an eyeball, and the opening it has brought to mind a pupil. It felt almost as if Mother Nature had created a flower that could look back at its admirers. I positioned the lens to where the diameter of the eye used just about the entire height of the frame while the first one third line (using the rule of thirds) runs right through the pupil nearly splitting it in half. That also allowed the disc florets to create a fuzzy ring around the eye and exposed some petals.
All the lilies in this post were found in various spots of the front lawn area at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I don’t normally spend much time searching for subjects in that location because the gardens usually offer more potential. However, their bright colors were like beacons that guided me right to the blooms.
The impression that the stamen in my Fire Escape piece created was that they were scampering away from intense heat or quickly trying to avoid being burned. The yellows, oranges, and reds in the background reminded me of flames. Even the anthers appear to be looking at and/or encouraging each other to ensure that they are all of the same mindset with regard to fleeing. The high level of detail allows pollen and surface textures to be seen.
Sizzling has a similar fire/flames related theme with the stamen shooting up and out of the core where the most extreme heat exists. In my mind’s eye, the two center stamen provide a sense of something frequently seen in nature; a mother followed very close by its baby (to the point of physically touching). I also really like the yellow area to the right of the rightmost filament as it appears to be a flickering flame which strengthens the sensation of burning. The high level of detail allows surface textures and pollen to be seen here too.
The stamen in Tines reminded me of a pitch fork. I’ve posted before about how much I like lilies, and I’ve spent a lot of time shooting them. I can say from experience that it is uncommon to find stamen by themselves with no apparent interference from the stigma. The stigma is normally close to the stamen (or intrudes into the scene by being an out of focus object in front of them) and can be problematic when you want to create a composition of the stamen or anthers in isolation. So, I was pleased to find this set of stamen with a hidden stigma. I also liked how the two outside anthers curve outward (the leftmost one to the left and the rightmost one to the right).
I was intrigued with the subject of my Blooming Bloom piece. I have seen flowers on the hydrangea bushes in the area of Hopeland Gardens where this was created several times over the years, but I hadn’t ever found anything that set my artistic radar off. That is, until I looked much closer at the flowers. Upon examination of this hydrangea at two times life-size, I discovered that the center of the flower itself had what appeared to be stamen, anthers, and stigma. The most interesting part of that realization was that not very many of them had similar centers. In fact, the majority of them (at least 90 percent) had a tightly closed, nodule-like, raised bump that wasn’t nearly as attractive. This flower had an open center that showed off the gorgeous blues and purples that are apparently hidden inside of it most of the time. Increasing my fascination quotient was the fact that the area of flowers that were blooming seemed to have plenty of smaller blooms (without any petals) that had stamen on them. The high level of detail allows surface textures and dew to be seen.
I discovered the unique looking lily in my Translucent piece along the front edge of the big garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and it was on the same plant as other lilies that didn’t have this unusual property. I don’t know if it was sick, lacking something, or just very special, but it had almost translucent petals. These lilies weren’t very big and were low to the ground (which made getting into a good position from which to create a composition a bit challenging). I liked the curves of the filaments and the designs created by what appears to be veins in the petals. The anthers give the impression of being electrically charged and sending out bolts of energy like some type of Tesla machine.
The abstract scene in Hi Five is quite chaotic with anthers and stamen shooting out all over the place. I believe this is some type of butterfly bush that lives off to the side of the stage at Hopeland Gardens. While I was initially attracted by its color, that quickly turned to fascination when I looked through the view finder and later at the LCD monitor. The red, five pronged structures in the center of each bloom that look like fingers in various poses (including what appears to be waving or gesturing) were quite captivating. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual pieces of pollen and hairs to be seen.
The colors of the rose in my Stamen Ring piece called out to me from across the museum grounds a good distance away. Upon closer examination, the brightly colored ring of stamens was equally alluring. With a very limited depth of field, I concentrated on keeping the anthers and the center of the flower sharp while simultaneously placing the ring in a position that creates the appearance of radiantly influencing the colors behind it. As if the anthers were tiny lamps capable of lighting up the background petals. I’m sure that there is a biological reason for the petals near the center of the flower to be much brighter (the purpose may even be obvious if we had the ability to see it through the pollinator’s eyes). An additional aesthetic decision was where to place the ring in the frame. Vertically, I used the lowest and highest anthers and gave them approximately the same distance to the edge, and horizontally, I provided the left most anther with enough breathing room to where it didn’t feel tight. The high level of detail allows dew drops and surface textures to be seen.
I loved how the anthers in my Pollen Filled piece were literally bursting at the seams. Being a color junkie, I was, of course, called to the lily by its gorgeous colors. But upon closer examination, I felt that the stamen contrasted nicely against the petals (especially at two times life-size). The extremely shallow depth of field guaranteed that the petals in the background would dissolve into simple colors. However, the high level of detail still allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
With plenty of golden hour light remaining after getting off the beach the morning of day six, I drove down the driving tour road looking for possible macro subjects. We had a fairly warm late winter that continued into spring and that caused lots of early blooms. While most of the spring flowers had already bloomed, I was able to find some that were reasonably fresh.
I found the false dandelion in my Tubes piece beside Mrs. Pepper’s Oak near the edge of Picnic Pond (which is area eight on the driving tour map). Composing at two times life-size combined with close proximity to the subject results in an extremely shallow depth of field, which helps create a sense that the tube-like structures fall away into a sparkly mist.
Picnic Pond Flower is close to being a vertical companion to Tubes. It is the same flower, but the distance to the subject has been increased. I often create both a horizontal and vertical version for a piece (especially when the subject permits it), which allows both orientations to be available.
I discovered the flower in my Sea Cloud piece beside fencing that completely surrounds the ruins of the Sea Cloud Plantation (which is area eleven on the driving tour map). The map information states that the builder (Ephraim Mikell Seabrook) attached the Sea Cloud name to the property in 1825. It was apparently quite elegant with a ballroom that spanned the entire third floor and gardens both in the front and back of the house. A foundation and some walls are all that remain. I don’t know if anyone has knowledge of what was grown in the gardens, and I’m not sure what type of flower this is, but, while composing, I thought that it would be neat if it was something that once grew there.
The false dandelion in Untrue was also composed at the Sea Cloud Plantation. There was a patch of them about 25 feet or so from the fence where the subject in Sea Cloud was found. This flower is obviously in a different stage of life than the subject discovered at Picnic Pond since it has what appears to be open mouths at the end of crusty, coated stems (perhaps with pollen) that have emerged from the tube-like structures. I decided to put the point of focus on the stems because they were quite interesting all by themselves. I love exploring at the macro level – you just never know what you’re going to find.