I’ve previously written about magnolia buds and blossoms and how fascinating I find them. They go through so many transformations and stages that it’s almost like having several species growing in the exact same spot. The flower in my Tentacles piece wasn’t very far off the ground. In fact, it was low enough to where I could get very close to it and compose at two times life-size. My artistic vision was to concentrate on the pistils because in my mind’s eye they always remind me of octopus arms. When framing it, I decided to include a couple of stamen layers along the bottom for context, which also increased the naturally abstract feel I wanted to create. Though the depth of field is really shallow, hairs on the surface and around the pistils can be seen.
In my mind’s eye, the design that the stamen in my Team Spirit piece formed reminded me of the “We’re #1” foam fingers often seen at sporting events. My artistic vision was to create another naturally abstract image with that exact look by composing at two times life-size while ensuring that the top anther stayed far above the others – like an index finger does when holding it up. To enhance the effect, I used an angle that kept most of the fingers in the hotter colors from the flower’s center and only the first finger is allowed to rise above that area and extend up into the cooler colored area of the background. This daylily is the same flower I used for my Starburst Red artwork (you can read the blog post for that in Part 2 by following the link above). Though the zone of sharpness is quite small, surface textures can be seen.
So, I decided to try something really different for my On The Inside piece. I specifically wanted to create another naturally abstract composition, and to do that, I basically went deep inside one of the Starburst Red daylilies. I had to find one that would let me put the focal point that far down into it which meant that it needed to be open in a way that I could. Creating this was fun, and I was quite happy upon viewing the initial attempt on my camera’s Live View with the Depth Of Field preview activated. Much of the flower has been transformed into simple colors and what remained is within or close to the zone of sharpness. There may be a scientific name for the location within a flower where the filaments connect to it, but I certainly don’t have that knowledge. At any rate, that’s essentially what this is. I believe that the yellow tube-like structures are filaments and perhaps the stigma. I didn’t purposefully try to use the rule of thirds when composing this, but the leftmost one third line fell very close to where the top two filaments come together.
Similar to my On The Inside composition, the flower I used for Internal also allowed the focal point to be deep within it. The filament connection point is a little more defined and some striation in the left-hand side petal is also evident. However, the two could almost be bookends since the filaments sweep in opposite directions. The rightmost one third line is very close to where the top two filaments are attached here as well, though, once again, I didn’t force it into the frame at that location (it just happened to lay that way after placing it in an aesthetically pleasing position). I’m not sure how many other types of flowers this new technique would work with, but I like the result and feel that it has added another option to my toolbox.
I was attracted to the scene in my Crisscrossed piece by the design the group of anthers formed. The unique V-shape of the lowest two anthers caught my attention immediately because it was something that I had never seen before. My artistic vision was to place the anthers in the frame with the V being near the bottom and the remaining anthers coming up and into it above them. Once again, by concentrating on the stamen while composing at two times life-size, the shallow depth of field turned the background into simple colors and shapes. While I didn’t intentionally utilize the rule of thirds when framing this, the rightmost one third line cuts through both sets of the anthers that cross each other (at the top and the bottom). Surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I liked how the anthers were clustered into a tight group in my Heat Seekers piece and felt that they would work well framed vertically. My artistic vision was to place the anthers nearly centered just slightly above the hottest, most intense area of background colors. In my mind’s eye, the stamen looked like they were gathered around and soaking in the warmth of a fire. While the depth of field was fairly shallow, pollen and surface textures are still visible.
The colors of the daylily in my Starburst Red piece drew me right over to where a group of these flowers had been planted. While searching for the best composition, I noticed a small sign that was stuck in the ground identifying it as a starburst red daylily (hence the name). My artistic vision was to capture the flaming bowl the stigma and stamen were coming out of as they make their way up into the frame while arching away from and rising above the intense heat at the core of the flower. Surface textures and pollen can be seen here as well.
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.
The yellow tickseed flower in my Coming Apart piece was in a group near where I park my car at the Aiken County Historical Museum. In fact, it was growing no more than a few feet from where I prepare my gear. Although proximity is only a small consideration, it does count. Out of all of the flowers I looked at, I preferred this one because there were no gaps between the petals that would allow colors from other things behind the subject to show through. Aesthetically speaking, I wanted to capture uniformity of color across the entire frame. I also liked the abstract and chaotic feel of the petals (they are all over the place). I focused on the center of the flower where there is structure on the inside and then a ring of chaos on the outside that literally looks like it is fragmenting. I didn’t initially plan to use any rule of thirds when I framed this, but because there was enough wind to change the position of the flower even while employing a Plamp, it moved to where the left most one third line cuts through near the flower’s center. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I’ve written about the wonderful flora diversity within Hopeland Gardens previously, but I still find it very cool that while Aiken is about three hours south of the mountains, you can find flowers that are normally located in the Upstate region here in our little town. I’ve known about this area of mountain laurel for a long time, and I’ve searched through them for possible subjects many times over the years that I’ve lived here. But I wasn’t ever able to time the blossoms right or able to find an aesthetically pleasing group of blooms that I could use to create a composition. As photographers, that’s why we have to keep going back as many times as it takes – persistence will pay off. On this particular spring morning, a very nice set of flowers and buds were waiting for me to find them and compose my Kalmia piece. They certainly are attractive, especially with the lovely bright pinks. It’s no wonder that, according to my father, they were one of my grandmother’s favorite flowers. The high level of detail allows surface textures 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.
While exploring the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum on a late spring morning, I came across the iris in my Gold Crest piece. It was immediately attractive because I don’t recall seeing a yellow one previously (at the museum or anywhere else for that matter). More than that though, I found the flame shapes on the crest especially appealing. I also felt that the lines on the falls had an abstract quality that was enhanced by the beard. My artistic vision was to frame the composition so that all of those factors were represented, and, because they were so cool, I used the flames as the focal point. I didn’t specifically utilize any rule of thirds lines while forming an aesthetically pleasing design, yet the flames are within the top one third while the beard and falls start very close to the bottom one third line. More often than not, I find that my recent placement choices innately gravitate towards those ratios.
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.
With all of the azalea flowers on the north east side of the Aiken County Historical Museum, I was certain that I could find a worthy subject among them. I used the edge of an azalea petal to create the naturally abstract composition in my Curtain piece. My artistic vision was to split the image diagonally where one part featured the petal’s edge and the flower it belonged to while the other section is an entirely different azalea blossom. That took quite a bit of exploring blooms and trying different angles until I found a flower that had the colors I wanted behind it with an edge that wasn’t burned, discolored, or chewed up. Additionally, the edge had to be far enough away from the details in the center that they would dissolve into colors even at a high F-stop, which was required to keep most of edge sharply in focus. Of course, composing at two times life-size helped because the depth of field is quite shallow. Even with that, surface texture along the petal edge can be seen.