I generally follow a circuitous route while exploring the Hopeland Gardens grounds. Over the years I’ve learned where I’ll likely have the best chance at finding something to point my camera at, and that changes depending on the season, the timeframe (e.g., early, mid, or late), weather patterns, etc. However, I will almost always make my way around the Dollhouse because when it is being properly tended to, the odds of discovering subjects are quite high. Such was the case the morning I created my Little Flowers piece. I couldn’t say when these were planted, but I didn’t remember seeing them on any prior trips around that area (maybe they were there, but they hadn’t yet bloomed). I was attracted to them by their vibrant colors and unique shape. They appear to bloom on top while their petals slope downward. My artistic vision was to capture both the flowers and the buds after lining them up with the gorgeous blue flowers in the background. To ensure that the background only consisted of colors, I had to compose nearly wide open. That didn’t allow for much depth, but, even with that, individual hairs and surface texture is visible.
Just a few feet north of where the previous flowers were growing, I composed my Icy Pink Flames piece. I had created a similar image from the same general location almost a month prior to composing this, so I thought another look at these flowers might be worth my time. I believe this may be a type of coneflower. Whatever it is, I loved the colors and naturally abstract patterns. In my mind’s eye, the florets looked like pink flames with light blue and purple tips. My artistic vision was to center it horizontally in the frame so that the flames could expand outward toward the edges. Thanks to the high level of captured detail, surface texture and individual hairs can be seen.
I discovered the flower in my Hypnotic piece in the little garden area on the side of the Dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure what it is, but it has characteristics similar to a coneflower, albeit with lots of florets. With its naturally abstract features, I immediately felt that it would be a welcome addition to that gallery. My artistic vision was to place the cone-like spikes in the center of the frame and let the florets build their way out (i.e., up, down, left, and right) from that point. Interestingly, the florets appear to become physically larger as their distance from the center increases. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops to be seen.
I found this little scene next to the chimney on the side of the Dollhouse. The chimney was being repaired due to some type of damage that it had sustained. While I composed Maple Rose, the petals and parts continued to fall away from their flowers. There was a fairly large area on the ground completely covered by the castoff pieces. Being a confessed color-junkie, I was thrilled to discover such a colorful and complementary combination of nature preparing for winter. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
The colors and shapes of this Stokes Aster I found on the side of the Dollhouse met both my colorful and interesting criteria. As I framed the composition for my White Flames piece, I felt that the inner shapes, with their sharp tips and orientation, resembled flames. It reminds me of the magic campfire colors I’ve seen, albeit burning in purple, blue, and white. While concentrated in the bottom center, they are shooting out in all directions which gives it a sense of being active. The high level of captured detail allows individual hairs, pollen, dew, water drops, and surface texture to be seen.
On one side of the Dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens there is some Daphne up next to the house and then an open area with some sitting benches. Beyond that is a patio with some flower pots placed around the outside edges. I’m not sure who updates the flowers in the pots (it could be the grounds keepers or perhaps it is the Aiken Garden Club), but I’ve been able to create some nice work from that area including the Dahlia below and the macro pansies from my four-part post.
I was initially attracted to the Dahlia in my Succulent piece by the colors and shapes. I was close enough to eliminate most of the flower identification cues thereby creating an abstract composition by reducing it to colors and lines. I like how the edges of the petals form arcs that curve and sweep up and out. Their round qualities provide a sense of softness and calm while the sharpness of the tips add just a bit of tension. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and surface texture to be seen.
My Color Portals piece is close to being a horizontal companion to Succulent, but the distance from the subject changed enough to where the petals now fill the frame. That makes this composition a bit more abstract since there is no longer even a hint of the background. The high level of detail allows hairs and surface texture to be visible here as well.
I’m not sure what these flowers are and several Google searches using different keyword combinations didn’t turn up anything. They were near the Dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens, and I don’t recall ever seeing them before or after the time that these compositions were created.
Since these flowers hang upside down, for my Under Cover piece I decided to get below the flower and shoot up into it. I used the purple stripes that form arcs coming down and out to create a sense of flow, and by maneuvering the camera into the right position, I lined the stamen up with the center stripes. I also found the purple pattern of color on the anther interesting. The high level of detail allows surface texture on the stamen and anthers to be seen.
The flower in my Air Drying composition is a perfect illustration of how these flowers hang. I positioned the camera so that I could pull in the yellow flower in the background without having it conflict with parts of the subject. I like the water drops as they tend to add a little more visual interest. The high level of detail captured permits a miniature background scene to be visible from within the largest drop of water on the stamen, a crystalline-like formation on top of the stigma, and surface textures to be viewed at larger sizes.
My Hooks piece is the vertical companion to Air Drying. Instead of isolating it away, this time I used the yellow background flower to enhance the anthers. Here too, the high level of detail captured allows miniature scenes to be viewed in the water drops.
I’ve written about lilies in previous posts and how they have an ability to satiate color-junkie cravings, but the subjects in my Dollhouse Doubles piece were off the chart in that regard. The greens, yellows, reds, and pinks combined with the blues and purples, that simultaneously highlight and fill, form a fantastic color palette. I found this delightful frame filling scene on the side of the Dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. The Dollhouse is home to the Aiken Garden Club, and I think their gardeners may have been making a statement with this arrangement. I mean, what better way is there for a garden club to represent, right? For me, this is eye candy and one of my favorites. A high level of detail allows surface texture to be seen.
I created Core Attraction by isolating a single lily away from the group growing outside the Dollhouse. It shares most of the color palette with my Dollhouse Doubles piece and, from that perspective, is nearly a vertical companion to it. Here too, a high level of detail allows surface texture to be seen.
More often than not I’m amazed with what I find while exploring life at the macro level or hunting for the beauty within. The subject in Heart Like was in a group of similar flowers along a grassy area across from the Doll House. The ground looked recently tilled, and I would estimate that they had been planted no more than two weeks prior. Even though the flowers had nice colors, they were small and fairly close to the ground. The lower a subject is, the more challenging creating a composition can be because the available working area is reduced. Given those concerns coupled with the fact that this was an early summer morning and an abundance of other subjects were available, I could have easily walked right past them. But since I hadn’t previously seen anything growing in that spot, I was curious and decided that, at a minimum, I’d give them a quick exploration. I was not disappointed as my first look revealed how much we simply don’t see from a standing distance. For example, the shimmering petal surfaces that give the impression that someone poured glitter on them.
After examining several potential subjects, I found that they all had comparable shapes in their centers, but this one spoke to me. I felt that its center more closely resembled a heart and, in my mind’s eye, it had the ability to pump the pink color out into the petals with each beat. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be seen as well as individual hairs and what appear to be little scales on the heart’s surface.
The abstract composition of the subject in Signal was created by zooming in far enough to eliminate the normal flower indicators. Doing so reduced the piece down to colors, shapes, lines, and patterns. I found a group of these near the Doll House in Hopeland Gardens, and the brilliant purples and yellows called to me as if they were neon signs. It has an energetic, almost electric feel like high voltage sparks from a tesla coil or lightning bolts.
An Iris can be attractive when viewing the whole flower, but it may have as much, if not more, beauty on the inside. For example, the subject in my Dollhouse Iris piece was quite pretty and almost a color beacon when contrasted with the majority of hibernating life in Hopeland Gardens that winter afternoon. But, by positioning my camera to where I could create a composition under one of the standards, an entirely different scene was discovered. The veins of the fall, beard, and anther have a captivating allure all of their own. As I was composing this, I imagined the fall being a big tongue about to give the camera a loving lick.
In my Say Ah piece, I zoomed in much closer to this Iris. The proximity here eliminated a frame of reference and created an abstract composition. Looking at the fall, beard, and anther it felt like I was staring down the flower’s throat. The first thing that came to my mind was a doctor’s request when they are examining the inside of someone’s mouth, “Say ah.” I love the colors, the patterns in the veins, and the round, tubular shapes in the beard.