I discovered the flora in my Scribbles piece in the front garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum (not far from where I park). I loved the random, naturally abstract lines formed by the edges of the leaves. I’m not really sure what this thing is, but it kind of looked like some type of interesting cabbage. Since I wanted to even out the light (i.e., bring down the highlights and brighten the darks), I had to try several different angles before finding one that was acceptable. Tiny hairs and surface textures can be seen.
I liked the naturally abstract design of the hairs and seeds in my Feathered piece. As they were in the big, back garden at the museum and the black-eyed Susan were still in bloom, I worked the scene until I found an angle that allowed me to use the flowers as a very nice, colorful background. I reduced the F-stop a little from my normal setting so that no details remained in the background, but not enough to where I lost a significant amount of sharpness on the seeds. I’m not really sure what type of flora the seeds are from, and I hadn’t ever come across any like them at the museum on prior trips. Surface textures, single strands of hair, and tiny dew drops are visible here.
While my Seeds piece is not quite a vertical companion to Feathered, it was composed using the same group. For this composition, I moved the camera closer to the subjects, rotated to a vertical orientation, and bumped the F-stop back up to ensure that I was able to capture all the fine details in the hairs. Along with the black-eyed Susans in the background, dew drops, single strands of hair, and surface textures can also be seen here.
The stunning colors of the daylily in my Purple Passion piece were impossible to ignore. If this had been the only composition I was able to create that morning, I still would have felt that the trip had been worth it. This quickly became one of my all-time favorite daylily images. For me, there is so much to love about this: the gorgeous purples, magentas, reds, and greens, the pleating on the petals, and how the chicken fat rolls into the frame both near the center and along the bottom. Pollen and surface textures are easily seen as well.
For my Sun Kissed piece, I tried something that I had never done before with a daylily. This flower was very backlit by golden hour light with no other lighting source or deflector/reflector use. That really lit up the oranges and yellows in the background, but it also darkened portions of some anthers and caused others to nearly become silhouetted. Similarly, that artistic decision created what appears to be a glowing area in the center of the focal point anther and on the pollen that surrounds it. It was an interesting effect and one that I was determined to utilize.
The small stamen in my Unique piece all but forced me to create this composition. I don’t know why it had a single stamen that was A) so much smaller than the others and B) not with the other group. It was like an extra stamen or one that somehow had its growth stunted. I also liked how the anthers were grouped and had formed a triangle shape. I used an angle that placed the little stamen in the background between the arches of the normal stamens. I also liked the pink and oranges in the background and the chicken fat. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen here too.
The naturally abstract qualities of my Invader piece convinced me to create a composition of it. I’m not exactly sure what this is. It may have been some type of a fungus that attacked one of the daylilies. At first glance I thought I was seeing a cool looking spider web with lots of pollen or tiny drops of dew in and on it. Whatever it was, it appeared to be holding down one of the petals, an anther, and possibly even the stigma while potentially feeding off from its host. And, it definitely met my interesting criteria for what to point the camera at. Since it was on a lily, it also came with gorgeous colors. Very fine, tiny hairs and polyp looking things can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
My Origin piece was a bit of an experiment. I have created several daylily interior compositions over the years where I attempt to get the focal point as far down into the flower as possible. That, by itself, creates a naturally abstract result. However, none of my prior works have had a horizontal orientation. Here, the filaments (and where they originate from) are the main attraction – especially with their colors and curved shapes. I also loved how the anthers dissolved down into colors. Creating this one was fun.
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.
On my way through Hopeland Gardens, I noticed some nice colors just outside the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall and Museum. So, I wandered over there to investigate and discovered plenty of flowers that had been planted since my last outing. I searched through most of them before deciding to work the flower in my Encircled piece. I placed the center of the flower in the frame where the left most one third line (using the rule of thirds) cuts right through the middle of it. I love that there is a row of open florets going around the outside of the center and the high level of detail. Tiny hairs (both coming off the center of the flower and on the petals) as well as dew drops can be seen.
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.
In the big back garden at the museum, I discovered a type of iris that I had never seen before. I examined all of the viable blooms keeping in mind the different types of compositions that I was considering before settling on specific subjects. These flowers didn’t have the traditional beard that I normally see, and instead had what is apparently known as a crest.
For my Swish piece, my artistic vision was to create a horizontal abstract where the crest runs across the frame on a diagonal originating from the top left-hand corner. I loved the designs and patterns in the falls, their colors, and how they tend to accentuate the crest. I also liked the purple spots within the crest as they add a random quality. Tiny dew drops along the edges of the crest can be seen.
I liked how the crest in my Slithering Purple piece had a serpentine/winding look. My artistic vision was to create an abstract where the crest comes down into the frame diagonally from the top right-hand corner. I loved the colors and patterns on the falls here as well. While some of the dew drops are a bit larger on this iris, tiny ones can be seen along the edges and on the surface of the crest here too.
My Royal Accoutrements piece shows off more of the whole package as far as what these irises look like. While it still has some of the abstract falls, much more of the inner parts of the flower are on display. I found them to be quite intricate and pretty. In my mind’s eye, what looks like it could be a stamen reminded me of a scepter. Tiny drops of dew and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
I found the flower in my Dedicated piece on the ground underneath one of the camellia trees at Hopeland Gardens. I believe that it had recently fallen off the tree since it was in pretty good shape (i.e., it wasn’t burnt or frost bit). I loved the contrast between the pink petals and the yellow anthers, and I felt like it would make a good vertical, but not while it was on the ground. So, I carefully picked it up and transported it to one of the dedication benches. There I was able to create a composition of it much easier as it was higher and quite stable with little interference from the wind. Due to the high level of captured detail, surface texture and pollen can be seen.
Being a color junkie, I don’t compose too many white flowers, but I made an exception for the magnolia in my Button piece. In this case, the overall design and flow of the petals outweighed any concerns regarding lack of color. That being said, I did find the subtle pinks near the center of the flower attractive and, of course, the green was nice as well. Pollen can be seen here too.
The camellia in my Fountain Camellia piece was another one I found on the ground. I liked it because it had good colors and seemed to have rather large anthers. Being right next to the large fountain pool, I was able to pick it up and move it to the base of one of the dog statues. That allowed me the ability to compose straight down into the flower. My artistic vision was to create an abstract where the focus was on the anthers. Tiny dew drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
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.
I was attracted to the hosta leaves in my Fall Curves piece by the colors. They grabbed my attention while I was searching for evidence of fall in the garden area near the bell at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I considered every leaf with good color and no visible damage (including some with darker yellows), but they were all missing one key aesthetic ingredient. I wanted the entire image to be filled with nothing but hosta. That is, I didn’t want dirt, grass, moss, other leaves, a tree, or anything else being visible in the background. This scene was the only one where another hosta leaf filled in the gap between the two sides. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition by placing the main leaf in the frame so that the arches and lines flowed out and away from its center. I liked the design and the sense of depth the focal point and placement provided. There is quite a bit of dew on the foreground leaf and that wetness produced some nice highlighting. The high level of detail allows surface textures, bumps, dents, and individual dew drops to be seen.