I liked the design and colors of the flower in my Liriope piece. I used red flowers for the background and opened up the lens just enough to create a nice bokeh while maintaining as much subject detail as possible. As I have written in previous posts, having a Live View capability that can be paired with the Depth Of Field Preview is quite useful in these situations. Those functions allow you to see how the F-stop changes will affect your image thereby giving you an ability to dial in exactly what your artistic intent is.
The flower in my Up Close piece is the same type that was used for the background in the composition above. I searched through and around the entire bush to find a subject that would give me what I envisioned. Well, technically, I examined two bushes before settling on this particular bloom. My artistic intent was to exclude any greens from background leaves while placing the center of the small flower in the upper portion of the frame. To do this, I had to utilize my Frankenstein lens configuration. Even though this was composed at less than two times life size magnification, the key was being able to get physically closer to the flower because that allowed me to only include what I wanted. Surface textures can be seen here thanks to the high level of detail.
Not many subjects were left and/or blooming in the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum where I found the flower in my Attached piece. Luckily, this flower was in pretty good shape. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition by focusing deep within the flower where the filaments and stigma originate. I also wanted to pull in some of the pinks and reds from the petals so I placed those colors in the background along the top and bottom of the frame. I liked how the greens in the center are being backlit causing that area to appear to be glowing. At nearly two times life size magnification, the depth of field is incredibly shallow.
I liked the naturally abstract design that the anthers created on the flower in my Anther Crossing piece. This is a different flower than the one in Attached, but still on the same plant. My artistic vision was to center the anthers in the frame horizontally while using an angle that allowed the filaments to streak up towards the corner on the right-hand side. At nearly two times life size magnification, the filaments dissolved into simple colors and shapes.
My Sweeping Pink piece was all about the naturally abstract design created by the flower’s petals. This is the same flower as the one in Anther Crossing. My artistic vision was to place the gap between the petals on a diagonal that runs from the lower left-hand side to the upper right-hand side. I liked how the petal’s surface on the left side of the gap has a rolling, wave-like appearance.
After having made many trips to their gardens, I could hardly wait for the right time to get back out to the Yonce Farm and create compositions of their lilies. The conditions during the two trips that I’ll cover in this year’s blog posts were every bit as good as they’ve ever been. Though Bob suggested that he had not kept the gardens in their prime form and had let a few weeds live longer than he should have, I assured him that I wouldn’t have any problems finding subjects. With the dearth of potential candidates during outings to both Edisto Memorial Gardens and Swan Lake Iris Gardens this year, it was great to finally have so many possibilities in one area. As usual, it can be a bit overwhelming because everywhere you look there are gorgeous flowers vying for your attention. Long term readers of this blog know how fantastic the subjects can be, but for those of you who are new, click here for previous posts of this wonderful place.
In my mind’s eye, the anthers in my Togetherness piece were lovingly touching each other. Almost as if they were siblings or puppies bonding while grouped close to each other. Of course, the colors were also quite attractive. This is also another example of using a very long exposure time (especially for macro at nearly two times life size magnification). A full ten seconds was used since the rising sun had just come up and was partially obscured by clouds. Surface textures, pollen, and tiny dew drops can be seen.
The gorgeous pastel colors brought me over to the flower in my Huddle piece. I also liked how the anthers were grouped. The nearly two times life size magnification creates a dreamy feel with such a shallow depth of field. Surface textures can be seen within the zone of sharpness.
Two factors focused my attention on the flower in my Greenlight piece. First, I don’t get many opportunities to compose using a horizontal orientation. I think that is due to how the stamen are normally grouped together (i.e., they just naturally fit in the frame better vertically). Secondly, the wonderful greens and fiery reds in the background were quite alluring. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen here as well.
I loved the pinks and pastels in the background of my In The Pink piece. Also enticing was how the petals were ribbed, and the design created by the tight grouping of the anthers. Once again, surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
I was attracted to the flower in my White Anther piece specifically because of the anthers. I discovered a couple of the flowers in the big, back garden at the museum, and I don’t recall ever seeing a flower there (or anywhere else for that matter) with white anthers that looked like these. Interestingly, some of the flowers on the same plant had black anthers though it’s possible that they were desiccated and/or dying. I also found the overall color scheme, with the pinks and greens, attractive. This was composed at two times life-size magnification which means that the depth of field is quite shallow. Even with that, individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
The curved shapes of the filaments in my Pastel Dream piece initially got my attention, but I also liked how the anthers fit within the frame. This was composed at nearly two times life size magnification which helped to produce the dreamy feel since the focal point is on the front anther and the rest of the flower parts quickly exit the zone of sharpness. Individual pieces of pollen are visible here as well.
My Stormy piece would not have been possible without the use of the Frankenstein lens I wrote about in a previous post. It allowed me to get physically closer to the coneflower and really zoom into the center of the flower (e.g., this is close to three times life-size magnification). It also required an enormous amount of shutter time (10 seconds) due to light loss (i.e., the extender, time of day, and cloud cover) and a higher F-stop. I loved the naturally abstract design and the colors. Individual pieces of pollen and tiny hairs can be seen.
The magnification level used for my Indian Blanket piece was more than two times life-size. And, once again, I could not have composed this without the Frankenstein lens. I liked the randomness of the hairs in this naturally abstract scene (almost like someone scribbled them in). For aesthetic purposes, I framed it so that some additional reds were added to the corners. Tiny dew drops and individual hairs are visible as well.
I loved how the tip of the leaf in my Flame Spike piece almost glowed as if it was being lit from the inside. This is the very tip of one of the leaves from the same plant where I found a fallen berry that been stabbed earlier during the year. Of course, this is nearly at three times life-size magnification and wouldn’t have been possible without the Frankenstein lens. To amplify the brightness of the subject, I used an angle that looked into an area of the background that was in heavy shadow. I loved the colors and how Mother Nature is basically screaming at anyone looking at it to keep their distance. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen along the edges of the leaf.
My Daylily Anthers piece was composed at two times life-size magnification. In addition to the artistic satisfaction factor, I created it to establish what could be called a baseline. That is, what my normal rig is capable of producing. I recently purchased a Canon 500D Close-up Lens that can be added to my current rig to get close to three times life-size magnification. Being at that level crosses over into an area known as extreme macro. It creates a bit of a Frankenstein lens, but it was less expensive than going to something like an MP-E 65, and my hope was that I could sort of get my feet wet in extreme macro while using something that I was fairly comfortable with. More from my Frankenstein lens to come…
Stamen Pair was composed with my Frankenstein lens and has a magnification that is more than two times life-size. With more magnification, the depth of field, which was already razor thin, is reduced even further. That makes for a wonderful background. Though the zone of sharpness is really shallow, individual pieces of pollen can still be seen.
My Rising Star piece was also composed with the Frankenstein lens. In my mind’s eye, I immediately saw a star shape on the flower that appeared to be ascending. I placed the center of the periwinkle where the top one third line (using the rule of thirds) cuts through it so that the star itself would be higher in the frame. Tiny drops of water and individual hairs can be seen.
While exploring the north side of the museum grounds, I found some dandelions that I decided to play around with. After examining them, I picked a favorite (or at least one that I wanted to use for compositions). Due to the very early time of day and the lack of light on that side, use of a plamp was required. My initial measurement for shutter speed was at six seconds and Mother Nature rarely gives you that much time without some wind. The problem with a flower head that you can see through is that the resulting image will often be influenced by the plamp (depending on placement, of course). One way to counter that is to find something that can be used to cover the plamp that has the same colors as other flora found in the flower’s natural environment. A large leaf from a nearby weed with nice purples and greens was perfect to hide the plamp.
For my Dandy piece, my artistic vision was to focus down inside the head. That decision created an abstract with what appears to be an explosion of seeds shooting out in all directions. Due to the razor thin depth of field at nearly two times life size magnification, the pappus disks (sometimes referred to as a parachute) are outside the zone of sharpness and add white splashes and strands. Pieces of pollen and tiny hairs on the achenes can be seen.
For Wispy, I decided to see pull the focal point back to the top of the pappus disks. That still created an abstract, just with different qualities. Though both images were created using the same subject, they appear quite different. Additionally, the light had dramatically improved by the time I composed this so I was able to reduce the shutter speed by more than half. Pollen and individual hairs can be seen here as well.
I was initially attracted to the camellia in my Stamen Forest piece by the fantastic pinks and reds. That being said, the stamen with their very nicely contrasting yellow anthers and white filaments added to the overall appeal. My artistic vision was to use a horizontal orientation so that the stamen would come up into the frame while nearly filling the entire length. In my mind’s eye, and especially at nearly two times life size magnification, the filaments reminded me of trees. Surface texture can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
The camellia in my Rolled Edge piece had not yet completely opened. In fact, the focal point of the subject is the edge of an inner petal. Upon seeing this flower, I instantly knew how I wanted to compose it. My artistic vision was to create an abstract using the edge by placing it diagonally in the frame. Even with the incredibly shallow depth of field at two times life size magnification, tiny dew drops can be seen along the petal edge and on the surface of the petals.
While exploring the museum grounds on a still chilly winter morning (my first day of composing for the season), I discovered something I had never before seen. The willow tree along the west side of the building had buds and flowers on it. I find it interesting that you can cover the same ground for years yet one random morning, find subjects that you had no idea were ever there. Of course, I immediately started searching for suitable candidates.
In my mind’s eye, the shape of the willow in my Cat’s Tail piece instantly reminded me of a cat’s tail especially with its hairy looking (almost furry) fibers. My artistic vision was to place it in the frame so that it would start at the lower right-hand side and come up and out with the customary curl at the top. That also allowed what look like stamen to prominently standout from the hairs along the core and provide lots of little details. Pollen and tiny single strands of hair can be seen.
For Frazzled, I decided to see what this willow looked like up close and personal. To my delight, an excellent abstract was formed simply by increasing the magnification. The depth of field at two times life size is very thin, but I was able to capture tiny little hairs covered in pollen just above the surface of the pod. I got a little bit lucky with the red behind the outside hairs. While searching for a subject that was as flat as possible (to increase the zone of sharpness), I found one that was above the red bricks that surround the willow tree. I also found the colors and triangular shapes on the surface of this piece attractive. The high level of captured detail allows pollen and hairs to be seen.
While making my way out of Hopeland Gardens heading back to the car, I came across a small oil slick on the big pond. It was just off the path in the water on the far west side close to where I’ve found lots of canna lilies and iris subjects over the years. I was instantly attracted to the scene in my Iridescently Tensile piece by the colors, but after seeing it through my macro rig, the naturally abstract feel of the design was equally alluring. Several environmental aspects made the composition difficult to achieve. The diffusion that morning was still quite heavy even though it was later and would have normally been burned off by then. Cloud cover, or in this case, dense fog can be good for many situations, but the lack of light requires a tradeoff. I’ve posted before about how photography often boils down to compromises. When you don’t have much light, that’s OK as long as your subject isn’t moving. But, in this case, there was movement. The wind wasn’t too bad (though there was a little), but the pond had some small waves on it. The fountain that shoots water up and out several feet was as active as it normally is too. Together those issues would have killed any chance of creating an image, however, the oil was on the water behind a wooden barrier so it wasn’t getting hit directly by the waves. Still, the surface of the water was swelling and contracting enough to cause problems. I lowered the depth of field as far as my aesthetic concerns would let me to gain back some shutter time. The majority, by far, of what I captured had to be thrown out because of motion. This was also the only image (out of the keepers) that had the tiny bubbles within the color bands. I’m not sure what caused them, but they were obviously ephemeral. I loved how the shapes were being stretched and pulled as well as all of the cracks, holes, and patterns.