Part 2 is a continuation of the Abstract Canna Lilies posts from the same plant group in the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum. To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 1, click here.
I was called over to the lily in my Undulating composition by its bold colors. In fact, this flower had the most attractive colors out of any I had seen blooming from this group all season. But, I was even more impressed with the pattern they created. I loved how the petals felt like waves rolling away from and crashing back into the center. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops and surface texture to be seen.
Inner Smile is essentially the vertical companion to Undulating. Though the pattern the colors form is the same, it does have a different feel when viewed vertically. Thanks to the high level of detail, individual dew drops and surface texture can be seen here as well.
I loved the greens combined with the dark red veins in my Wet Canna Leaf piece. This is another composition from the area along the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum where the canna lilies live. Because of its abstract quality (i.e., simple colors and lines), I really appreciated the ability of the dew drops to bring additional visual interest. Aesthetically, I didn’t want it to feel too mathematically exact or mechanical so it’s not perfectly centered within the frame, but it’s close enough to give the impression that I intended it to be.
The bright red colors called me over to the canna lily in my Points composition from across the south lawn at the Aiken County Historical Museum. While it has an almost abstract feel, I liked the concentration of buds with the single flower. When you are shooting real close to a given subject, the depth of field can be extremely shallow, but as you increase the distance between your lens and the subject, the zone of sharpness expands. Composing while using a higher F-stop can result in background objects being visible. In severe cases, the background can cause an image to become cluttered and confuse the viewer since they may not understand what the subject is. To please my aesthetic eye, I do my best to avoid busy backgrounds, and this was one case where an adjustment was required. This lily was fairly close to leaves, vines, and other flora in the background. To dissolve those things down into colors, I dialed back the F-stop to a smaller number. That is yet another example of the many artistic tradeoffs I’ve posted about previously. You have to consciously decide how much subject sharpness you want to give away to get the background you need. Once again, if you find yourself in this situation, your Depth Of Field Preview while using your camera’s Live View capability is quite valuable because you can use it to judge when you’ve produced the desired amount of blur. Of course, there are processing tricks you can use to achieve similar results, but I believe in getting it right in the camera. To me, the final result is always better, and you’ll spend significantly less time processing.
I liked the mixture of hard points and softer round edges in my Skinny piece. The blend of the buds and petals create a nice contrast. This is the same subject featured in Points composed from a completely different perspective. While keeping the majority of the buds, I wanted to bring more attention to the flower. For the same reasons outlined above, I had to trade some subject sharpness for background blur here as well.
I liked how the petals far outnumbered the buds in my Red Canna composition. It’s interesting that this subject was quite close to the previous subject yet it had significantly more blooms. Though the combination of buds to flowers is nearly opposite of the earlier pieces, I felt that it had a nice mixture, and I liked how they filled out the frame. Once again, the proximity to background objects was a concern and subject sharpness had to be reduced by using a smaller F-stop. The water drops were from a quickly moving shower that started spitting just before I pressed the shutter a couple more times. I grabbed my gear and moved everything under the roof area on the south side of the museum until the rain stopped. The high level of detail allows pieces of pollen and rain drops to be seen.
Before I was run off by the thought of my equipment getting drenched, I had considered whether or not the prior lily subject could be shot at a higher F-stop. Since the rain had ended, I returned to the subject, set the area up a bit, and composed Lily Tower. Though I had to arrange some vines and use a plamp to hold the scene together, I was able to find a perspective and position the tripod so that there was a whole lot of space between the subject and the background (like 40 or 50 feet which was way outside the sharpness zone). I liked the background because it was a bit darker against the bright reds (thanks to an angle that had the lens pointed into the leaves of a background tree). The increased depth of field and high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and surface textures to be seen.
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 compositions below are from the same plant group in the back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I previously posted about. The flowers took a pretty bad beating from a storm that came through the night before I captured these. Only a single flower was in good enough shape to be photographed.
I loved the random, abstract design on the canna lily in my Dropped In piece. The oranges and yellows were also quite attractive. But my favorite part has to be the large water drops. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the flower in the frame using a perspective that would pull in as much of the patterns on the petal surfaces as possible. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual drops to be seen.
Even though it’s obviously the same subject, Flow isn’t exactly a horizontal companion to Dropped In. After I rotated the lens, I also had to change the perspective because for artistic motives I, once again, wanted to incorporate as much of the yellows, oranges, and reds in the abstract patterns into the frame. I liked how the splashes of oranges and reds seem to have been expelled out of the center of the flower and create the impression that some are dripping back down into it. I also felt that the large water drops were equally attractive from this view. Surface texture and individual water drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
I noticed some bright colors in the big garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum that looked like canna lily when shooting the coneflower I previously posted. I knew that I needed to get over there and check them out before the wind started to pick up too much.
The first subject I looked at through the lens was the foreground flower in my Spattered Curves piece. I loved the patterns on the petals and the ability to see down into the center of the flower. I have been enthralled with this particular variety of canna lilies since the first ones I ever saw at Magnolia Springs State Park in Georgia. And, I’ve wanted to create a composition featuring one since then. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops on the surface of the petals to be seen.
Yellow Canna was composed using the same subject, but it isn’t exactly a horizontal companion. Indeed, the distance to the flower was shortened and the angle is different as well (in fact, it was completely reframed). My artistic intent was to capture as much of the gorgeous oranges and yellows as possible while highlighting the fantastic pattern. I love how the design has a sweeping, swirled feel as if it had been spinning clockwise when captured. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops, both on the surface of the petals and along their edges, to be seen.
The canna lilies in my Staged piece come from an area on the west side of the big pond in Hopeland Gardens where they’ve been blooming for many years. In fact, I’ve created other works from the same location. My artistic vision for this composition was to capture the various life stages of these flowers by sort of blending two of my other images Curly and Canna Buds. I placed the focal point on the curl and the gorgeous colors of the foreground flower, kept the buds in the middleground as sharp and distinctive as I could, and then filled out the frame with the surrounding blooms. The high level of detail allows dew drops and surface textures to be seen.
In previous posts I’ve raved about lilies and how much I enjoy their diversity, colors, and subject material potential. Aside from the canna lily’s wonderfully bold colors, they are quite different from other lilies and, for that matter, what one might consider a traditional looking flower. I had been attempting to create works using this location of canna lilies for several years returning each spring hoping to find just the right perspective, light, and color combination. Sometimes getting the photographic stars to align is simply a matter of perseverance.
The central object in my Lily Wing piece with its random pattern of striking colors immediately brought to mind a type of wing before I even looked at it through the lens. I also felt that this particular flower was unusual because I had never seen one that wasn’t curled in some form.
While still having a unique shape complemented by glistening dew, Curly displays the more normal canna lily curl. The softer arcs, ellipses, and overall roundness throughout offer a sense of calm allowing the louder color palette to find an elegant balance.
When framing my Canna Buds composition, I preferred the sharp tips against the rounder, soft background. I also maintained its abstract quality by reducing and holding it to shapes, lines, arcs, and colors.
I was, of course, attracted to the colors in my Roll Up piece, but I also find the random patterns quite appealing. Even with its round shapes and arcs, I feel that they weren’t sufficiently calming to quiet this one down. I like the fact that dramatic colors can’t always be softened simply by the forms they take.
The high level of detail captured on all of the pieces in this post allow surface textures to be seen.