Macro Gladiolus At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Hopeland Gardens Gladiolus

 

Sometimes you just have to give nature some help, which was the case the morning I composed the pieces in this post.  While surveying the area where I had found one years ago, I discovered two gladiolus plants next to each other that were lying flat on the ground.  They were both dead to the world and did not have the ability to stand on their own.  I have no idea what happened to them though an animal may have knocked them over, or perhaps it was the wind, or maybe their blossoms just got too heavy to hold up.  At any rate, it seemed like a real shame to have that much beauty going to waste.  One stalk was fairly tore up and the flowers were not in good shape at all, and the second had a couple of pretty decent looking blooms as well as others that were being overrun by ants.  I picked up the better of the two so that I could examine the flowers a bit closer.  After I felt that a composition existed, I tried to get it balanced or propped up high enough to where I could comfortably get my lens on it, but that didn’t work – it just fell right back down again.  So I got my plamp out and, after cleaning as many of the ants off from it as I could, I connected one of the clamps so that it would keep the plant from falling over.

 

 

Macro Gladiolus at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Reincarnated

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After effectively bringing the plant back to life, I searched for an artistically pleasing flower.  For my Reincarnated composition, I placed the center stalk of the stigma on the upper, leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds.  Then while keeping the stigma at that location in the frame, I maneuvered the camera around to where the anthers had approximately the same amount of space to their respective side.  I focused on the stigma because it felt too prominent against the pink background to ignore.  The extremely shallow depth of field didn’t allow much else to fall into the zone of sharpness, and I wouldn’t argue too much against this being classified as naturally abstract.  However, the uniformity of the filaments, anthers, and stigma stalks (i.e., three, three, and three) helped convince me not to do that.  The high level of detail allows tiny hairs and texture to be seen.

 

 

Macro Gladiolus at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Stance

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While scouring the best remaining, ant-free blooms, I found one that I liked.  I decided to move the plamp into a position that would continue supporting the weight of the stalk and hold the flower steadier since the wind had started to pick up as the morning ticked away.  I focused at the top of the stigma here as well and that worked out pretty good considering the angle of the anthers.  I like how they slowly fade away.  I was also pleased with how the filaments blended right into the background of my Stance piece because it creates the illusion that the anthers are floating.  Tiny hairs and texture can be seen here too thanks to the high level of detail.

 

 

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Macro Wandering Jew Petals Form Butterfly Wings At Aiken County Historical Museum In Aiken, SC

Butterfly Wings

 

Macro Wandering Jew petals form butterfly wings at Aiken County Historical Museum in Aiken, South Carolina
Butterfly Wings

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I don’t normally see two wandering Jew flowers growing so close to one another.  In fact, this was the very first time I had ever seen a pair that had petals touching each other, and their proximity caused me to see a familiar pattern in my mind’s eye.  Taken as a whole, the outside petals on both sides appear to create the shape of butterfly wings.  I didn’t want the wings to feel centered in the frame, so I left a little more space above and on the right side of the petals.  That caused the flowers to be placed in the frame where the left flower’s core/center is very near the lower, leftmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds.  With the anthers scattered around in different groups as well as being considerably above the surface of the petals (especially considering the shallow depth of field), I selected the rope-like strands that grow out of the filaments as my focal point.  That aesthetic decision simultaneously forced the anthers to be out of focus and enhanced the surface of the petals including the pollen that had fallen on them.  The high level of detail allows texture, dew drops, and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.

 

 

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Macro Daylilies At Edisto Memorial Gardens In Orangeburg, SC: Part 3

Orangeburg Daylilies: Part 3

 

Part 3 is a continuation of the Orangeburg Daylilies posts from the Edisto Memorial Gardens In Orangeburg, South Carolina.  To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 2, click here.

 

 

Macro Daylily at Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Peachy

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My Peachy composition allows you to look right down the throat of this pastel colored flower.  Being a color junkie, the pale pinks, oranges, and greens are not what I normally look for.  But, as I’ve previously posted, that’s a good thing.  Sometimes the more subdued colors are a nice change of pace (especially if they are different from what you usually see and even better if they are a departure from your typical palette).  You can think of it as expanding your horizons or simply trying something new.  For aesthetic reasons, I placed the anther farthest to the left on the upper, leftmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds.  I then focused on the larger foreground anther on the right side which created good sharpness across all of them.  Individual pieces of pollen on the anthers and filaments can be seen due to the high level of detail.

 

 

Macro Daylily at Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Pink Paradise

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Pink Paradise was composed looking right down the flower’s throat as well, but the colors are decidedly different from Peachy.  They are much more bold and saturated as well as satisfying to my color junkie needs.  The gorgeous pinks and reds are a nice complement to the bright yellows and greens, and one of my artistic goals was to feature them as much as possible.  To accomplish that desire, I found an angle that would allow those colors to fill the top of the frame while lifting the stamen up and off of the bottom.  I also wanted to hold the anthers near the yellows as their darker colors are naturally enhanced against the more vibrant tones.  While I used the first foreground anther as my focal point, the extremely shallow depth of field, when shooting at two times life-size, only allowed the zone of sharpness to extend just behind it to the middleground anthers.  Even so, the high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.

 

 

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Macro abstract Daylily at Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg, South Carolina
Orange Curls

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I was attracted to the flower in my Orange Curls piece because it was so different from what a normal daylily looks like.  It was immediately apparent that any composition using this subject would produce an abstract.  Since it was the only one in the area, and I didn’t have anything else to compare it to, I can’t say if this particular type of flower usually grows in this manner.  Perhaps it was lacking something or deformed in some way.  Whatever the case, I loved all the loopy, wavy lines Mother Nature endowed it with.  The stigma has character as well and is bent and curled like it had been abused.  Though the anthers aren’t as easy to see because they have the same color as the petals, I did place one at the lower, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds.  I then used that anther as my focal point.  The high level of detail allows tiny dew drops to be seen.

 

 

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Macro Heart Shaped Leaf At Hitchcock Woods In Aiken, SC

I Heart Nature

 

Macro heart shaped leaf at Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, South Carolina
I Heart Nature

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Hitchcock Woods is an amazing resource to have right in our city, and I’ve written about it in previous blog posts.  That being said, I don’t usually hunt for subjects within it using my macro rig.  But, this particular morning I didn’t have any luck finding something to point my camera at on the grounds of the Aiken County Historical Museum so I decided to hike down some of the horse trails to see what I could find.

The leaf in my I Heart Nature piece immediately drew me in primarily due to its shape.  After all, the heart symbol is a universal ideograph that represents love, and, being a nature lover, I had a strong desire to capture a scene expressing that sentiment.  I also found the greens quite attractive.  In fact, one of my artistic goals was to find an angle that allowed me to fill the background with as much green as possible while avoiding the creation of darker brown areas where the dirt on the ground could be seen behind/under the leaves.  Additional aesthetic concerns were leaf placement (both angle and position in the frame) as well as depth of field control.  I put the leaf in the sensor on a diagonal so that it wouldn’t feel static or centered even though I gave the subject about the same amount of breathing room on either side and kept the distance from the top of the frame nearly equal to the space at the bottom.  I sought as much detail as I could get in and on the leaf’s surface, but I also wanted the background to quickly fade away.  When there is sufficient distance from the subject to the background, depth of field can be increased while maintaining good bokeh, but when objects in the background are close to the subject, you have to compromise.  In this case, I had to open the lens incrementally until I found the right amount for this composition (i.e., where I was getting as much detail as possible from the subject while simultaneously decreasing features of the background leaves).  This is another time where your camera’s depth of field preview really pays off because you can use it to dial in the setting while you observe the effect across your work.  Even though I reduced the depth of field, the high level of captured detail allows surface texture to be seen.

 

 

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Macro Wet Spiderwort At Aiken County Historical Museum In Aiken, SC

Wet Spiderwort

 

Macro wet Spiderwort at Aiken County Historical Museum in Aiken, South Carolina
Wet Spiderwort

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I was attracted to my Wet Spiderwort piece by how nicely the yellow anthers popped against the complementary blues.  But, as is often the case, upon viewing the scene at nearly two times life-size, I discovered something even more enticing.  I loved how the water drops had formed in and around the anthers and stigma.  By dialing back the already shallow depth of field, I could have reduced the detail in the background, however, my desire to hold a selection of anthers and the water drops sharply in focus outweighed any other aesthetic priorities.  Further, I like how the drops on the petals add to the overall soaked feel.  To place them in an artistically pleasing location within the frame, the largest drops in the group of anthers were concentrated near the left most, bottom crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and they all touch (or are split by) one of the horizontal or vertical grid lines.  The high level of captured detail allows textures and drop reflections to be seen.

 

 

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Macro Berries And Fall Leaves At Rye Patch In Aiken, SC

Fall Berries

 

Macro berries and fall leaves at Rye Patch in Aiken, South Carolina
Fall Berries

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The leaves on the tree where my Fall Berries piece was created can be quite colorful in the Fall.  They were, as they have been in the past, loud enough to call me over from across the lawn at the Rye Patch.  I searched around the tree for artistically pleasing scenes.  I wanted good colors in the leaves and at least one berry.  For the scene I settled on, I liked how the dark colors of the berries contrasted nicely against the brighter leaves as well as their mixture of purples with the blue reflections.  Aesthetically, I found a perspective that kept the berries from touching each other.  Then I placed the left most berry on the first lower left crossing line (a little off center), using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point.

 

I normally try to get as much depth of field as I possibly can, but sometimes I have to dial back the F-stop setting.  As I’ve posted about previously, photography is about concession management.  The wind picked up just as I began exploring the leaves.  With the sun not yet able to provide much light through the surrounding trees, I needed several seconds of exposure time.  But, Mother Nature insisted on rustling the leaves with a breeze coming on shorter intervals than what I required.  To come to an equitable agreement with her, I dropped my F-stop down to F/11 which cut my exposure time down to two seconds.  Voila, everybody was happy.  And, as a bonus, the background leaves nearly completely dissolved down into simple colors.  Even with a shallow depth of field, the high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.

 

 

 

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Macro Abstract Tree Sap At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC: Part 9

Tree Sap: Part 9

Part 9 is a continuation of the Tree Sap blog posts from Hopeland Gardens.  To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 8, click here.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Spiked Drops

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The unusual shape of the sap in my Spiked Drops piece is what attracted me to it.  If you’ve been following my Tree Sap posts, then you’ll recall that there were two limbs that had been cut.  This was under the smaller limb and was hanging down far enough that the extremely shallow depth of field, when shooting at two times life-size, reduced most of the background bark down to simple colors.  Both larger drops have nice reflections and refractions.  I loved the smaller tapered drop and wondered how it could have been formed in that manner without colliding with the larger drop and being absorbed.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Molten

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Molten is the final sap composition I was able to create.  I was surprised that a collection of sap so large still had such good clarity.  Most of the sap runs had at least started to dry and were turning a milky color.  These drops were lower on the tree trunk beneath the area where the larger limb had been trimmed.

 

I love the colors that the lowest drop on the bottom has pulled in and the color striations in all of the drops.  They also have some very nice multicolored refractions and colorful reflections.

 

The pieces in this series of blog posts, taken as a whole, feel like some type of a project – especially since I became accustomed to shooting at their location.  I was able to create compositions nearly all season long starting from the time I first discovered the limbs had been cut and the tree had sap running down it.  When there wasn’t much to point my camera at on any given day, I knew that I could at least get something from the sap tree.

 

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Macro Tree Flowers At Rye Patch In Aiken, SC

Tree Flowers

 

Macro tree flower at the Rye Patch in Aiken, South Carolina
Stigma Star

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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.

 

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Macro tree flowers at the Rye Patch in Aiken, South Carolina
Tree Flowers

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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.

 

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Macro Abstract Tree Sap At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC: Part 4

Tree Sap: Part 4

Part 4 is a continuation of the Tree Sap blog posts from Hopeland Gardens.  To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 3, click here.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Gathering Colors

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If you’ve been following my previous posts in this series, then you know that I had been composing around the areas where the limbs had been trimmed from the tree.  At this point, those spots no longer had the most interesting subjects.  Gathering Colors comes from sap that has dripped and run down onto the tree trunk.  I loved the color striations and patterns being pulled into the two large drops.  I also liked how the moss acts as a natural highlighter (i.e., it is positioned around the sap and only has a small amount of direct influence) as well as the flatter stretched and strained area immediately above the large drop with its crystalline reflections.  The smaller double drip on the side was a bonus.  The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen (especially on the bark).

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Drips

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I framed the sap in Drips so that it would be on a diagonal.  That aesthetic decision was made primarily because I wanted to ensure that I could include all three of the larger drops.  I especially liked the pattern created in the middle drop with the refractions, reflections, and surrounding colors being pulled in.  Though it’s on a bit of an angle, I also liked that the drop in the top right corner has a classic teardrop shape.  Surface textures on the drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Flooded

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I utilized a completely different perspective for my Flooded piece.  Instead of lining up the camera’s sensor with the sap to maximize the amount of sharpness available in the shallow depth of field, I traded that in for a distinctive feel.  I made the aesthetic decision to shoot up at the drops to provide more of a sense that they were running down toward the viewer.  I loved the colors lit up under the sap and the reflections off from it as well as both clear and dark colored drops.  With the high level of detail, surface textures can also be seen here.

 

 

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Macro Rose Of Sharon Bud At Aiken County Historical Museum In Aiken, SC

Budding

 

Macro Rose Of Sharon bud at Aiken County Historical Museum in Aiken, South Carolina
Budding

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I was attracted to the rose of Sharon in my Budding piece by the strong dark purple colors in the bud.  This tree is very close to the west wall on the other side of the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum and has had some very nice blooms over the years I’ve been shooting there (some of which have been featured in posts on this blog).  After discovering the bud, I searched for an angle that would allow the background to be completely filled with a bloom.  Because of the very shallow depth of field when composing physically close to the subject at two times life-size, I was able to dissolve the bloom down to simple colors.  The high level of detail allows individual hairs on the bud to be seen.

 

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