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.
This is the first post from my third and final trip to the Yonce farm for the season. I tried something knew 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 big leaves in the swampy area at Hopeland Gardens make wonderful subjects in the fall when their colors start to change. I have written about and posted several examples over the years because I love the patterns that can be found as they begin to expire (e.g., Fire Veins, Lava Leaf, and Closing In). When they are backlit by the golden tones of a morning sun, as the leaf in my Cessation piece is, they are able to elevate my excitement to another level. As I scan their locale looking for subjects to investigate from the trail at the top of the berm between the swamp and the pond, backlit leaves with these colors act like a beacon that my eyes immediately lock on to. At that point, there is a limited amount of time available to create a composition. The window is short lived due to the fact that the sun has to rise above the trees that keep the swamp partially shaded, and by the time it does, there is very little golden light remaining. I loved the last vestiges of Chlorophyll in the green pockets and tracing around the outline of the yellows and oranges, and I was captivated by the thought that Mother Nature will paint a different pattern on every leaf that reaches this stage of life. This leaf is very likely the only one that will ever look exactly as it does. The high level of detail allows texture and tiny leaf veins to be seen.
Sometimes we have to work on a subject (or a group of subjects) over the course of several weeks before getting exactly what we want out of it. Even if you produce many different pieces and you aren’t happy with any of them, don’t give up when you know that there is a composition just waiting for you to find it. That’s the story behind my Flame On piece.
The subjects here were new to Hopeland Gardens, and I had been working about six of them every time I wandered the grounds. I tried numerous framing options and had taken home lots of images that I subsequently rejected. I would usually work them for a few minutes during a visit before moving on, so they were, in a manner of speaking, bothering me (i.e., I couldn’t quite get what I desired, but I felt it was there someplace). And every time that it didn’t work was difficult because they were very attractive to the color junkie in me due to their brilliant colors. The interesting thing is that you have to view them at the right angle. When the morning sun backlit them, the reds and pinks in the leaves lit up like flames and drew me in as if I was a moth. Each time that I reviewed and threw out images, I would come away with a better idea of what I wanted to try during my next opportunity. On the morning this was composed, I was sure that I could find an angle and position that would allow me to create what had eluded me for a couple of months. After cleaning up a few spider webs that were flailing around, I finally got the right lighting and wind conditions and found a distance and perspective that pleased my inner artist. I wanted to fill the frame with as many of the gorgeous flame-like leaves as I could, which, in and of itself, produced a more abstract feel. I considered the randomly placed dew drops a nice little bonus.
Lava Leaf is from the same swampy area of Hopeland Gardens that produced Fire Veins. In fact, they are both from the same type of leaf. Additionally, it was backlit by the golden toned light of the rising sun. I loved the colors and the design created by the skin transformation as the leaf passes through its final stages of life. Upon finding this particular area of the leaf, it immediately made me think of molten rock streams flowing and mixing together as they pour from a volcano. Discovering scenes like this is a major reason why I love shooting abstract macros so much.
I can’t even remember how many times I’ve looked for a composition using the palm tree in my Waggie Windmill piece. I have always felt that it held an artistically pleasing creation waiting to be uncovered, but over the years I’ve wandered the Hopeland Gardens grounds, I never found the right combination (i.e., too much wind, poor lighting, bent or broken fronds, etc.). But on this particular morning, all the pieces fell into place. The fronds were being backlit by the morning sun, the wind was calm, and the fronds had no imperfections. I loved the gorgeous green and yellow colors and the nearly perfect geometric pattern. Mother Nature even gave me a bonus – dew drops. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to reveal the beauty I knew was there, and I quickly took advantage of it before any of the key ingredients were lost.
I mentioned in a previous post that the Aiken County Historical Museum was surrounded by a fairly substantial wall. In some places along the wall, grass or other natural cover exists, but in other spots there are areas with a variety of flora (including flowers and flowering bushes). Both of the pieces in this post were discovered next to the wall that borders the south side of the property.
I was attracted to the leaf in my Life Lines piece by the size and color. This leaf is quite large and since it was primarily backlit, the colors were especially striking. I placed the midrib diagonally because I liked how the veins flowed away from it out into and across the frame. Due to the shallow depth of field, I could have wished that the leaf wasn’t curled on the bottom, but artistically, I love the sweeping arcs. The high level of detail allows surface texture, water drops, and wetness to be seen.
I loved how the foreground leaf in my Lily Leaves composition was lit up by the rising sun. I worked the camera into a position where the subject leaf was still being backlit while the background was filled with another canna lily leaf. I liked how the complementary colors worked so well together. I also liked the little tip, the darker ribs, and the water drops on the red leaf.
The colors in my Frond Lines piece were enhanced by backlighting from the golden tones of the rising sun. I don’t know what caused the fronds to exhibit such a colorful display (perhaps it is part of the normal life cycle), but it certainly caught my eye as I was walking around the tree. The spot this came from wasn’t physically that large or uniformly filled with similar patterns. Composing at two times life-size allowed me to scan across the surface until I found an artistically pleasing design. In particular, the combination of the maximum amount of colorful areas with diagonal lines that cross the frame at disparate angles. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
After stopping at the marsh area for a couple of minutes, I hurried on to the beach. Although I wasn’t racing anyone to get there, a couple of other photographers had already beaten me to it. The twilight colors were just as spectacular as they had been all week. While composing Unspoiled, I thought about how lucky we are to have a state treasure like this that has gone so many years relatively untouched by human development. Earlier this year, I found out that the beach was closed indefinitely due to damage from Hurricane Matthew (apparently the beach trail bridge was destroyed). I hope all of the trees I photographed survived the storm, and I’d like to visit again sometime in the future.
While working new groups of subject trees, I was able to keep the fantastic reflections off the wet sand, colorful waves and reflections off the water, and gorgeous colors in the sky. The water levels at the beach vary from day to day, and I may have needed wading or hip boots to get to the spot I composed from for my Coastal Roots piece on any other morning. That’s one of the great things about returning to a location several times – you will likely have different conditions for your creations.
I was attracted to the scene in Choppy by the chaotic nature of the wood. As the sun got ever closer to the horizon, the golden tones continued to increase in the sky and reflect off from the water brought in by the waves. All of which raised my excitement level. I also love the twilight purples and the blues along the horizon and in the water.
As I saw this scene start to materialize, I grabbed my gear and literally ran to get into position. I love how the entire beach in my Color Wash piece is reflecting the golden hour colors. There is also a little serendipity at work here too as the foam from an earlier wave creates a somewhat serpentine leading line toward the sun. I specifically composed this so that the sun would be between two of the limbs, and, as a bonus, that created a feeling that the limbs are bowing to it like some type of primitive god.
While the subject tree in Boneyard is featured in other work from the beach, this composition is decidedly different. Most notably is the position of the tree in the frame and of the sun being clearly above the horizon. I love how the sun enhanced the reflection off of the wet sand, created a red toned path that fans out across the drier sand, and highlighted the shells/stones with a sparkle effect. As I inspected the image in the camera’s LCD monitor, it was yet another one that caused spontaneous, excited, chuckling. As I stood on the beach taking it all in, I was elated to have this as my final piece in the Botany Bay Beach Sunrise series.