As I wrote in a previous post, the Dollhouse at Hopeland Gardens is usually a good source for subjects, and I’ll always make my way around it to see what I can find. On the morning I discovered the rose in my Spread Out piece, I was attracted to it by the gorgeous pinks. Upon closer examination, I loved how the filaments had a squiggly look. In my mind’s eye they sort of looked like bent spaghetti. My artistic vision was to capture the chaotic, all over the place, feel of the filaments while including a somewhat random selection of anthers. Placing the stigma near the center and letting the stamens shoot out into the frame from that spot fulfilled my intent in the most aesthetically pleasing manner. I also used the stigma as my focal point and got lucky with where most of the anthers fell in the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and surface textures to be seen.
I was attracted to the daylily in my Gathered piece by the colors and the way in which the anthers were grouped. In my mind’s eye, the stamens felt like they had congregated or were in the process of coming together in a way that they would easily fit within a vertical frame. As if they were planning a photographic opportunity to capture a family reunion, but still fumbling around not sure where everyone is supposed to be. I’m not sure what deposited the hairs on the anthers, but as an interesting side note, the two hairs protruding above the leftmost anther were useful in selecting the sharpest image. I was able to utilize them to determine if any movement (even the slightest amount) had occurred during the one second of shutter time. Which was important since the wind picked up during the creation of the compositions. The high level of detail allows surface textures and, as previously noted, individual hairs to be seen.
The interesting shapes and colors of the anthers attracted me to the scene in my Blue Pod piece. In my mind’s eye, their unique appearance reminded me of dolphins. With my experimental macro rig focused on the anthers, the very shallow depth of field ensured that most of the filaments were nearly outside the zone of sharpness and unable to retain much detail. Along with their color being similar to the background, the filaments just about blended right in. Which fit my artistic vision of frolicking dolphins and assisted with the creation of a naturally abstract setting. Surface textures and pollen pieces are visible here as well thanks to the high level of captured detail.
The strange shape of the wet anthers attracted me to the flower in my On Point piece. I had never previously seen anthers like these (at the Yonce farm or anywhere else) on a daylily. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Bob if this was, in fact, a daylily or to inquire about the specific type it might be. As it was growing in the front garden (the one closest to the road) and that whole section is full of daylilies, I’d like to believe that it is. The sharp tips and swollen, bumpy areas make it look like a genetic mutation. Which is possible since during a prior discussion with Bob, he described the process he used to create his own daylily variations. I liked the fiery, dark reds in the filaments and the oranges and yellows in the background. In combination with the pointed anthers, they produce a somewhat menacing vibe, and I felt that the scene would make a nice addition to my Naturally Abstract gallery. Surface textures and dew drops can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
The petals in my Magma Vent piece are from the same flower featured in On Point. So not only did it have unique anthers, the petals were also layered. Another interesting characteristic was that the outermost petals came to a sharp point. What really grabbed my attention though was the fact that the main petal in this setting was being backlit. The golden hour light had enhanced the entire surface. The gorgeous oranges and yellows combined with the striations immediately reminded me of lava flowing from a volcano. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition where the dark red, cooler, outer layer is above the glowing, hotter, oozing, molten rock as it moves up and out from underneath it. Thanks to the experimental macro rig’s isolation capabilities, I was able to concentrate on a fairly small area and fill the entire frame using only the flower’s petals. Surface textures are visible here as well.
I was attracted to the naturally abstract scene in my Ribs piece by the simple colors and lines I discovered on the petals of this daylily. Of course, I had to search for a location on the flower that was free of any anthers, stigma, or stamen to create a relatively clean, minimalist feeling, composition. I love how using nothing more than magnification gives me an ability to reduce subjects down to such basic components. Even though there are some pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen, there isn’t much more than that in the frame. That being said, the color junkie in me was also quite happy with the colors and their transitions.
I was attracted to the daylily in my Red Drops piece by the rich, dark red colors of the petal as well as the water drops. I liked the distinctive naturally abstract qualities of the scene as well as the dynamic aesthetics of the hard and soft areas. For example, the surface of the petal has a crinkled texture while the water drops appear to be silky smooth. While I did create some compositions using the diffuser, I preferred the version without since I like the sunstars in the water drops. As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, I also like how the water acts as a magnifying glass and brings out additional details in the surface underneath the drops.
I was initially attracted to the daylily in my Trough Drop piece by the colors, but the relatively wet surface quickly grabbed and held my attention. My artistic vision was to utilize the isolation capability of my experimental macro rig on a section of the flower that had both elements. I felt that the inner rim of the petal (with the gorgeous color transitions) combined with the water flowing down the outside of the petal into a drop created a nice naturally abstract scene. By placing the focal point on the drop, the zone of sharpness runs along the rim, and the very shallow depth of field helps reinforce the fact that it is setting on a ledge. In my mind’s eye, from a bug’s perspective, it might feel like you were looking over the edge of a colorful trench. Within the zone of sharpness, surface texture is visible.
This scene is from the same daylily that I used to create Red Drops, and since I was already at the flower, I decided to see what it looked like on the inside for my Collection piece. When you look at all of the colors between the two images, they offer visual proof of why I feel lilies make such fantastic subjects. It really is amazing that a single flower can produce a rainbow of tones. I also liked the design that the anthers formed and how a single independent stamen was peaking out from behind the others. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be seen.
This is the first post from my third and final trip to the Yonce farm for the season. I tried something new for every image I created during this outing. I decided to use an extension tube with my normal macro rig. So, for those of you playing at home, all of the remaining images in this series of blog posts are using the Canon 180mm L, 2X Extender, and 36 mm of tube. I haven’t tried to calculate the highest magnification level, but it has to be more than two times life-size. I’m also not sure what the lowest magnification amount would be. This was a bit of an experiment and to try stepping into the world of extreme macro.
The design of the anthers in my Pile Up piece attracted me to this setting. I liked their stacked configuration and how they were so close to each other. At a magnification greater than two times life-size, the depth of field is even more limited. That ensured that the background details would be completely dissolved with only simple colors remaining. In fact, the depth is so shallow that even though the anthers are in close proximity, parts of them fall outside the zone of sharpness. You might not even know that this scene consists of flower parts, which is one of the qualities I enjoy about most naturally abstract subjects (i.e., you’re not really sure what you’re seeing – it’s just colors and shapes). That being said, within the zone of sharpness, the high level of detail allows surface texture, hairs, pollen, and individual dew drops to be seen.
One thing I discovered with my venture into extreme macro is that having that type of magnification allows you to easily isolate small areas away from a subject. Of course, I was primarily attracted to the scene in my Petal Ribs piece by the color transitions, but secondarily I really liked the rolling, wave-like ridges on the petals. There was no question in my mind that this setting would fit perfectly in my Naturally Abstract gallery. The combination of isolation and a very shallow depth of field allowed a composition to be created that consists of colors, shapes, and lines. From an aesthetic perspective, I liked the largest dew drop along the petal edge so I placed the focal point on it and let the remaining areas fall into the zone of sharpness in relation to that spot. Some surface texture and other dew drops are also visible.
I was attracted by the backlighting in my Ripple Glow piece. Once again, I utilized the ability to isolate a section of the daylily away from the rest of the flower. Here too, the naturally abstract qualities (i.e., simple colors, lines, and shapes) are obvious. Though it was not from the same flower as Petal Ribs, the color transitions were equally (if not more) captivating. I loved the gorgeous greens and the luminescence provided by the golden hour morning sun. Aesthetically, I wanted to enhance the ridges on the petal. Interestingly, when the zone of sharpness is incredibly thin, it can be difficult to select a focal point that allows your artistic vision to be realized. To overcome that issue, I composed several versions with different focal points and then selected the winner during my inspection process on the computer.
The unique triangle pattern on the petals in the background attracted me to the daylily in my Triangular piece. I had never previously seen that type of a design on any lily. With all of the pollen on the anthers, filaments, stigma, and petals it has a more disordered feel than most of my work, but that’s a good thing because it helps offset any implied precision brought in through the geometric shape. While I placed the focal point on the anthers and they are in front of the petals, a good amount of detail remained in the background. For example, veins are visible in the petals. By using a magnification greater than life-size but less than two times that level, the background was able to retain some of its features and it didn’t dissolve down into simple shapes and colors. The high level of captured detail allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
As is usually the case, the colors of the flower in Dreamy Anthers brought me over to this scene. While reviewing angles and placement, I quickly realized that the distances between the foreground and background anthers exceeded the depth available in the zone of sharpness. In fact, even the detail in the middleground anther quickly dissipated. Since the background itself had dissolved down into shapes and colors, my artistic vision was to add to my Naturally Abstract collection by placing the focal point on the front, leftmost anther. That created a dream-like effect on the remaining anthers by progressively fading their attributes away. Since the filaments have a tone similar to that of the background, they tended to blend in with it. I also liked the rays of light feeling produced by the background shapes on the petals as they appear to be streaming out and away from the anthers. Though the depth of field is quite shallow, individual pieces of pollen and surface texture are visible.
I was attracted to the flower in my Ascending piece by the group of anthers in this setting. As I found them to be quite aesthetically pleasing, my artistic vision was to feature the anthers up close and personal. Of course, as I’ve previously written, when composing at two times life-size, the depth of field is incredibly shallow. Luckily, there was just enough difference in the yellows of the pollen to maintain edge distinction on most of the anthers. That being said, the attractive orange and brown tones just inside the pollen lines increase the apparent edge depth a bit more. Due to the very shallow zone of sharpness, details quickly faded and some merging took place. For example, a couple of the filaments have the appearance of being combined and their colors are close to those found in the background. Which is a desirable effect since it allows the focus to be on the anthers. Within the zone of sharpness, surface texture and individual pieces of pollen (two different types) can be seen.
The colors and patterns in my Stamen Stack are what attracted me to this scene. My artistic vision was to focus on the anthers and highlight the filaments. By placing the anthers high in the frame, I accentuated the length of the filaments. For example, some of them are completely above the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, while the others have only a small portion below it. To enhance that further, I let them originate outside of the frame and purposefully brought them in using the lower right-hand side corner. I wanted to include the designs along the petal rims so I established boundaries for how far I could push the stamen group. Though the depth of field is very shallow, surface texture and individual pieces of pollen are visible.
As I had written in a recent post, I don’t see many opportunities to create a horizontally oriented daylily composition. The alluring colors of the flower in Heartthrob were the most attractive aspect, but I certainly appreciated the ability to add another horizontal piece to my collection. Further inspiration came from the tight grouping of the anthers, no intruding or visible stigma, and the right to left sweeping arcs of the stamens. There certainly is a lot of pollen on the anthers, and thanks to the high level of detail, individual pieces of it can be seen along with surface texture.
I loved the fiery colors and the tight grouping of the anthers in my Fired Up piece. Those two factors forced me to create this composition. The whole flower was vibrant and fresh looking, and I really liked the sweeping arcs of the stamens and how the tips of the top anthers come to a sharp point. The bold colors and tines produce a harder/hotter feel that doesn’t have many rounded or soft areas to calm it down. I also felt that those characteristics endowed it with an unmistakable amount of intensity and verve which I like. Surface texture is visible here as well.
I was attracted to the daylily in my Discovery piece by the layout of the stamens and the fact that no stigma was interfering with them or visible in the frame. From an aesthetic perspective, I felt that they worked well in a horizontal orientation. Which, oddly enough, seems to be rare for the daylilies in my galleries. That is, I create significantly more that have been vertically framed. I haven’t really thought much about why that is, but for some reason my eye is generally more pleased with verticals. And, while I normally at least look at (if not capture) both a vertical along with a horizontal (or vice versa), with daylilies, rotating the camera around just doesn’t seem to produce artistically satisfying compositions. I didn’t intentionally use any rules of thirds when composing this, however, the foreground anther on the left-hand side is very near the leftmost crossing line. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My artistic intent for Divergent was to create a little different look. I specifically composed this piece so that the anther group was high and to the right in the frame. Artistically, my vision was to provide plenty of room for the petals with their chicken fat to come up into the composition and act as path that leads to the center of the flower thereby serving as a starting point for the desired flow. From the center, the filaments sweep up and out of the center to the anthers where the upper petals bring the eye right back around the outside to start the journey across the flower all over again. Surface texture and pieces of pollen are visible here as well.
I found the torch lily in my Illuminated piece between garden areas at the Yonce farm. There were only two of them, but they looked really good, appeared to be fairly fresh, and had gorgeous colors. My artistic vision was to create another composition for my Naturally Abstract gallery by focusing on the tube-like structures. An important aspect for me was to have good sharpness (at least as good as I could get) from top to bottom. Achieving that required aligning the camera’s sensor with the focal plane of the tubes. Something that can be technically challenging, but it will make a huge difference in your own work because it maximizes the zone of sharpness. And when you are working with a very shallow depth of field, getting as much as possible matters even more.
I was attracted to the canna lily in my Orange Canna piece by the hues. In fact, they called to me from all the way across the width of the farm’s largest garden. I simply had to determine what type of flower had such gorgeous orange and yellow tones. I was surprised to learn that it was a canna lily since I had not previously seen one clad in those colors. My artistic vision was to concentrate on the stigma while capturing all of the curves, arcs, and lines, and I felt that doing so would ensure that I could add another subject to my Naturally Abstract gallery. Even though the morning sun was providing nice front lighting, it was a bit too harsh. So, I used a diffuser to level it out and remove the hard shadows. The high level of detail allows surface texture and pieces of pollen to be seen.
My excitement level shot off the scale upon seeing the abstract pattern and colors in this canna lily leaf. For my Canna Waves piece, I tried to capture as much of that initial scene as I could get. Though not all of the backlighting remained, I was fortunate to be quick enough to utilize some of it for this composition. I would have needed to be stationed in front of the leaf with everything perfect and ready to go before the sun reached its sweet spot in order to catch what I originally witnessed. Most folks don’t realize how fast the sun changes, but for photographers that have waited for the right light during a rising or setting, we know full well just how ephemeral it is. I was only able to create a couple of images before it was completely gone from this setting. Mother Nature did give me a little bonus dew drop though.
I liked the yellows and greens on the daylily in my Irresistible piece. I also liked the area of chicken fat along the petal edge. Something, perhaps some type of bug, has taken a bite out of one of the front anthers on its left-hand side. I don’t mind having imperfect subjects every now and then especially if it makes them more interesting. In this case, it made me wonder what would do that. I guess it didn’t taste all that good since the missing portion isn’t very big. Surface texture and individual pieces of pollen are visible here as well thanks to the high level of captured detail.
While the majority of flowers at the Yonce farm are daylilies, they have other photographically worthy subjects. One example of that is their canna lilies. I was attracted to the flower in my Twisted Wing piece by the colors and its naturally abstract feel. The only place I’ve ever seen a pink canna lily is in their gardens, which piqued my interest all by itself. Perhaps because it is twisted and rolled over, the design on the left-hand side of the stamen is very different from the ribbed lines on the right. That being said, they work quite nicely together and help solidify the overall abstract quality. Even with a very shallow depth of field, individual dew drops and pieces of pollen are visible.
The colors and abstract pattern of shapes on the canna lily in my Ejected piece were irresistible. In my mind’s eye, their splattered appearance made it feel like the splotches had been sprayed up and out of the center, and they became elongated while dripping or running down the petals. My aesthetic goal was to find an angle that allowed the center stalk-like part (perhaps the stigma) to coalesce with the splashes and petals while creating a visual flow that encompassed it. Thanks to the high level of detail, dew and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
I was attracted to the design in the petals of the daylily in my Accentuated piece. The dramatic lines are obvious above the anthers, but they actually nearly surround the stamens. In my mind’s eye, it was almost as if the anthers were so brilliant that they were causing rays of light to shoot out in all directions around them. My aesthetic goal was to enhance the starburst-like effect by placing the stamen group lower in the frame. The depth of field is a little deeper here since this was composed at slightly less than two times life-size. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be seen on the anthers.