All of the pieces in this post are from the same box turtle at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I posted about previously. He let me get quite close to him without pulling inside his shell or trying to scuttle away. These naturally abstract patterns come from his back and were created by pointing the lens down toward his shell.
I was attracted to the area in my Expand composition primarily because of the colorful patterns. The main portion of the piece is a single scale with a darker edge that marks its boundary as it contacts the other scales around it. I loved the lines that trace the general outline of the scale and wondered if they were like the rings of a tree that could be counted to determine the age of the turtle. It certainly appeared to me that as this guy grew, his scales got bigger and, at some point, left an indentation that marked the end of a specific life period. I also marveled at his toughness. Something may have tried to eat him and, if so, perhaps their teeth punctured the main scale causing it to break and form a depression.
For my Armor composition, I slid the camera over to the left, switched the orientation to horizontal, and recomposed. While the pattern on the left scale is quite distinctly different from the pattern on the right, artistically, I felt that they worked well together.
I loved the pattern created by the yellows and oranges in Shield. For this piece, I composed down his spine. I loved how the top color blobs appeared to be being pushed away from the area where the two scales meet. As if the force of the bottom scale colliding with the top scale caused everything to shoot outward. The design of the lines in the top scale increase that feeling by having the appearance of waves that grow out and away from the epicenter.
As I was headed towards the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum, I came across the box turtle in my Red Eye piece. He was just sitting there in the grass not moving. I’ve posted before about being an opportunistic wildlife shooter and this was a great opportunity. He appeared to be fine with me being around him and only got a little concerned one time when I pushed down a blade of grass (using a stick) that was leaning on his back. I started creating images from about six to eight feet away and then gradually kept working closer to him. I was using a knee pad and had the tripod as low as it would go (it basically sets on the ground as I don’t use a center post). I felt like I needed to be laying on the ground, but it was wet from rain we had the previous night, and I didn’t have anything to lay on. I seriously considered it, but the thought of wet clothes and being bitten or stung by fire ants caused me to try something else. I got down as far as I could while still being able to see the viewfinder and then used Live Preview to focus the lens. I had tried that on one other occasion and didn’t care for the results, but this time it worked great.
I placed his eye on the left most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. I loved the reds in his eye and the oranges and yellows on his body. Being at eye level really makes a difference in a nature composition. I would have preferred a clean foreground, but this is a natural environment so I can live with the grass.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog posts, you may remember a post where I described the no longer operational fountain in Hopeland Gardens. I discovered the female box turtle in my Private Pond piece in the catch basin portion of the fountain system. When the fountain was functioning, water from the canal would flow into the basin where it would, presumably, be pumped back up to the starting point. With no water streaming down the canal, only surface runoff, rain, etc. can get into the catch basin. I’m not sure how she got into the basin, but, because the cement walls are pretty high, she was essentially trapped until it fills with enough water (or perhaps something else she could utilize) for her to climb out. I didn’t see any other turtles so she has the whole area to herself. I had been checking on her during previous trips, but wasn’t happy with the background or her position. Being completely surrounded by duckweed presented the best opportunity I had been given. While she remained perfectly still, her throat was moving in and out (which I liked because it shows movement and implies breathing).