Hopeland Gardens has three rectangular fountain areas that, as legend has it, are actually the foundation of the original Iselin home. The largest one of them normally has soothing, bubbling sounds coming from the water being pumped out of the fountains in the center of it. In addition to pleasing your auditory senses, it has good sized pots on each corner that usually have some type of flora in them. I’ve composed many images from those flowerpots over the years, and I discovered the leaf in my Wet Christmas piece growing from flora that was planted in one. I was attracted to the scene by the Christmas colors (reds, greens, and whites), but the naturally abstract qualities were an even bigger impetus. My artistic vision was to put the two larger veins running diagonally through the frame. Aesthetically, the position felt best when the center of the crossroads where all of the veins meet was placed near the upper, rightmost crossing line using the rule of thirds. The wet surface helps bring out the saturation and increases the abstract feel.
The big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum has been a reliable source for lily subjects over the years, and this past season was equal to or better than any I’ve experienced. Perhaps the garden club that helps maintain it or the museum itself decided that you can’t go wrong with lilies when sprucing up the flora on your grounds. Whatever the case, I found many fantastic scenes during my late spring and early summer explorations.
I was attracted to the scene in my Forked piece by the luscious colors and the arrangement/design of the daylily anthers. My artistic vision was to add to my Naturally Abstract collection by featuring those qualities up close and personal. Composing at two times life-size produces such a shallow depth of field that nearly all of the details in the background dissolved down into colors and lines. Even the filaments tend to dissipate into the petal’s gorgeous tones which helps increase the abstract feel. I love creating artwork where something familiar can be transformed into shapes, lines, and colors while maintaining just enough depth to where surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can still be seen.
The colors in my Bonfire Party piece are what initially caught my attention. In fact, I reframed so that I could pull more of the yellows up into the left-hand corner. My artistic vision was to, once again, feature the anthers in their naturally colorful setting. And the background characteristics morphed into simple colors just as they previously did. Because of the angles of the anthers and how they are arched, in my mind’s eye they appeared to be leaning toward the flames of a blazing campfire as if they were setting around it enjoying the warmth. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures are visible here too.
The bright colors of the lily in my Mellow Yellow piece brought me over to this scene, and I really liked the lighter, calm, toasted brown tones of the anthers. My artistic vision was to create a horizontally framed abstract anther composition, and I was pleased to find a group of stamen that worked well in that orientation. As per usual in these circumstances, the very shallow depth of field assured that the background was nearly devoid of any defining attributes (with the exception of the filaments). Even so, individual pieces of pollen and dew on the filaments can be seen.
I loved the background colors in my Long Tall Stamen piece. For me, the fiery yellows, oranges, and reds always provide a heightened level of excitement and enhanced zeal. I was also quite pleased with the design of the stamen group and how they come up into the frame. With the three front stamen being higher than the back three while having a nearly identical distance to the camera sensor, it increases the feeling of depth. My artistic vision was to place the spindly stamen nearly centered within the frame with their squiggly filaments lifting the anthers above the heat of the intense backdrop colors. Surface textures and pollen can be seen here as well.
While on my way to the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum, I noticed what looked like some really small pine cones on some type of an evergreen just before the patio area. The tree, or whatever it is, was in a fairly large pot and wasn’t quite as tall as I am. My artistic vision was to find an aesthetically pleasing group of cones with the right background. I searched the entire tree looking for the best combinations. Upon locating an acceptable cluster of cones, I would examine their backdrop and work the camera around using different angles and subject distances so that there were no large gaps or breaks in the flow of colors across the frame. The amalgamation in my Tiny Cones piece was the overall winner after circling the tree twice. I placed the center of the cones very near the rightmost one third line, using the rule of thirds. While there are no features in the needles on the left-hand side, I felt that they added some additional visual interest, and with such a shallow depth of field, I really liked how they are similar to the shape of the cones (almost like a mirror image). The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and dew to be seen.
I’ve created lots of pansy artwork over the years with many of them coming from Patsy’s Garden at the Rye Patch. Maybe she loved them and their wonderful designs as much as I do. Who knows, she may have even agreed with my “Pansies Rock” mantra. Longtime readers of this blog are familiar with her special, memorial area within the Rose Garden, but for those of you who aren’t, my Patsy’s blog tag is a good place to learn more about it. I was attracted to the flower in my Sunburst piece by the pattern of purples that are streaming out and away from the center of it combined with the yellow and orange tones. As I usually do when framing these little flowers, I placed the green heart in the core so that a one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed it. The high level of captured detail allows lots of tiny dew drops and pollen to be seen.
I was initially attracted to the rose bud in my Wet Paint piece by the colors, which will not be a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for a while. Those gorgeous oranges and reds were appealing from the entrance door all the way across the Rose Garden at the Rye Patch. As I got closer to the subject, my artistic vision was to add to my Naturally Abstract gallery by focusing on a specific section of the bud. One of the things that fascinates me about macro photography is how just being physically close to something while simultaneously using magnification can break it down into simple colors and lines. In this case, to the point of not even being able to tell that it’s a flower. I love that, and to achieve it, I composed this at two times life-size. There was a bit of wind the morning I created this and, while I had a Plamp holding the bud, I lowered the F-stop to gain back a little shutter speed. Doing that further reduced the already razor thin depth of field, but that also amplified the aesthetic effect I wanted. The colors reminded me of paint, as if someone had pulled a brush across the frame, and the tiny dew drops that completely cover the surface provide a wet look.
One of the things I like about the south is that flowers are still blooming in early fall. Of course, it doesn’t feel much like fall during that time when the high temperatures remain in the upper 80’s. As usual, the colors of the subject in my Spiny piece are what attracted me to it. I found this flower in the front garden near the south wall of the Aiken County Historical Museum (i.e., next to where Newberry and New Lane streets meet) and it appeared to be fairly fresh. It was also quite wet with morning dew. All that water helps calm down the sharp spikes found across most of the flower’s surface. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the center of the flower in the frame slightly to the left of center horizontally and nearly centered vertically. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops as well as tiny hairs and spines to be seen.
I had been watching the mullein in the front garden near the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum basically all season. I reviewed several possible compositions using the initial plant from that area, but wasn’t able to find anything that felt right or was aesthetically pleasing enough. Not long after the first plant had finished blossoming and turned an ugly brown, a new, larger one sprouted up just a couple of feet from where the original one grew. Each time I made my way through the museum grounds, I would inspect the new plant, but even though it felt like it held a composition, nothing was found. The soft, hairy (some might even say fuzzy or furry) leaves were attractive especially when they were covered in dew drops. On this particular morning, I created a couple of works facing east, but they still weren’t exactly what I was looking for. In fact, one of my artistic goals was to eliminate background colors caused by dirt and/or pine needles and fill the entire frame with greens from its leaves. So, I decided to go around to the other side of the plant and see what it offered. While facing west, I discovered something that I had not seen during any of my prior museum outings. A new cluster of tiny leaves had sprung up near the center of the plant. For my Mullein Core piece, I placed that group of leaves on the lower, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as my focal point. I was pleased with the result, gratified that my persistence had paid off, and pleasantly surprised with the happy feeling it has (though that is likely due to the large leaf in the background that appears to have a face with closed eyes and a wide smile).
I was experimenting with various ways of framing the foreground subject in my Curly Sue piece when I discovered an angle that allowed the background petals to bring additional visual interest to the scene. I really liked the arcs of the petals in the background and how they came up into the left-hand side of the frame. In fact, I felt that they gave the impression that this was one big black-eyed Susan flower with curled petals that were shooting out in all directions. If not for the background stem being visible, it would certainly appear that way. To perpetuate the illusion, I placed the center of the foreground flower just below the upper, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used that area as my focal point. That aesthetic decision also tended to accentuate the relative size of the flower’s head. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and textures to be seen.
There are some small bushes between the driveway and the east side of the building at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I’ve inspected the nice little blooms they produce for a composition several times over the years, but wasn’t ever satisfied with what I was able to create. My artistic goal was to fill the entire frame with the flower (something that is difficult to do because of their relatively diminutive size). However, on the morning I created my Bubbling Yellow piece, I found a bush that had a flower on it that was just a bit bigger than what I’ve previously come across. I placed the core of the flower slightly off center to that it could expand out and down toward the bottom of the frame. I was thrilled with the wet surfaces and dew drops that add additional visual interest, and I love all the loops and arcs.
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.
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.
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.