As I was walking through the Rye Patch Rose Garden looking for subjects, I discovered a naturally abstract scene that I couldn’t pass without further investigation. The Rose Garden is an enclosed area with two side entrances that each have a swinging door. Within the garden boundaries are hedges that are usually neatly trimmed in a rectangular shape that further segregate the various areas. On top of one of the hedge rows was a web that was completely covered in dew. Upon closer examination of the area I subsequently captured in Dew Veil, I was struck by how I could see the leaves underneath the web while at the same time the drops of dew created a mask over them. It was a curious effect and almost felt as if I was looking at leaves that had been embedded in glass. I found a group of leaves that had a couple of tips poking up and out of the web as well as other leaves surrounding it in an artistic manner. I then placed that group in the frame so that the rightmost vertical one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected them. To achieve side-to-side sharpness across the entire frame, a technique known as focus stacking was employed. The high level of captured detail allows web strands and a whole bunch of tiny dew drops to be seen.
I just realized, as I was writing this, that I ended the season at the exact same place I started with an identical type of flower. Patsy’s Garden in the Rye Patch Rose Garden had been recently replanted with pansies. Artistically pleasing specimens were fairly sparse, but this one stood out. I liked the colors (of course), but the tiny dew drops made the difference. The petal surfaces are nearly completely covered resulting in a sparkling effect. Aesthetically, I placed the green heart in the center of the flower just below the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. The high level of detail allows surface texture, individual dew drops, and individual pollen pieces to be seen.
Part 2 is a continuation of the Abstract Canna Lilies posts from the same plant group in the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum. To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 1, click here.
I was called over to the lily in my Undulating composition by its bold colors. In fact, this flower had the most attractive colors out of any I had seen blooming from this group all season. But, I was even more impressed with the pattern they created. I loved how the petals felt like waves rolling away from and crashing back into the center. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops and surface texture to be seen.
Inner Smile is essentially the vertical companion to Undulating. Though the pattern the colors form is the same, it does have a different feel when viewed vertically. Thanks to the high level of detail, individual dew drops and surface texture can be seen here as well.
Regular readers may recall my posts on using busy backgrounds and how I normally avoid them. My Black Eyes piece is yet another example of where I wanted an at least somewhat busier background. I specifically placed the flowers in the foreground so that they would be a bit lower in the frame allowing another group of flowers several feet behind them to fill up the background. The background flowers have almost been dissolved into simple colors, but they retain just enough shape to tell that they are the same variety as those in the foreground. My artistic goal for this was to capture a simple, pretty scene in the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum.
I had an eye on the plants in my Garden Grass piece for a while, but hadn’t ever found a composition that I was happy with. They got my attention again so I worked on finding a pleasing way to put them in the frame. I loved the single dew drop at the tip of the center blade as well as how the lush foreground greens arched up and out. Artistically, I couldn’t let the sharp tips of the blades on either side be out of focus (e.g., by focusing deeper into the scene) so I used them as my focal point. That decision let the middleground and background blades naturally fade while providing some separation for the foreground (even though they share the same colors and shapes). If you’re a regular reader, then you may recall my post concerning background objects being visible and how I normally attempt to prevent that from happening. This provides an example of where I allowed a busier background to exist and depended on perceived sharpness to create distinction between the layers.
After having worked the Chocolate Garden, I returned to the Butterfly Garden to give it a better going over. I had basically picked the low hanging fruit in the morning, but after lunch, I didn’t feel as pressed for time. That allowed me to go a little slower, take additional time to examine more perspectives, and create multiple frames of any given subject. Luckily the shooting conditions were quite favorable for midday (i.e., I had a diffused sky with periods of rain and not too much wind). I loved the size and gorgeous red colors of the buds in my Butterfly Garden Buds composition. I maneuvered around them until I could find an angle that 1) allowed me to keep the buds separated, and 2) have them originate from the top right corner and come down and out into the frame. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture and a rain drop can be seen.
Of the images I created featuring the flower in my Diagonal piece, I liked this one the best. I had a couple of initial objectives for this composition. First, I concentrated on the anthers and used them as my focal point. Secondly, I wanted a petal to run diagonally across and down the frame from left to right with the sharp tip ending near the lower corner. While I had resolved those two intentions, I felt that it could be improved with an additional change. I believed that it would be artistically stronger to force the majority of the filaments to originate within the frame (that is, to make it possible to see where they were coming from vice entering the frame from outside of it). So, I found a perspective that brought them back while maintaining the aforementioned goals.
I concentrated on the structures above the unopened disc florets in my Slit composition. In my mind’s eye, the center area reminded me of an eyeball, and the opening it has brought to mind a pupil. It felt almost as if Mother Nature had created a flower that could look back at its admirers. I positioned the lens to where the diameter of the eye used just about the entire height of the frame while the first one third line (using the rule of thirds) runs right through the pupil nearly splitting it in half. That also allowed the disc florets to create a fuzzy ring around the eye and exposed some petals.
I was attracted to the flower in Enticed by how unique the center was. While the flower had a similar color scheme (the very cool pinks/purples that change to orange), the middle was unlike any of the other flowers. For example, there are no disc florets or the cool looking flame like structures. That made me wonder if it was a different flower type completely (planted within the area along the bathrooms at the Butterfly Garden because it had comparable colors) or perhaps some genetically altered version.
Confectionery is close to being a vertical companion to Enticed. It is the same flower, but the perspective was changed. I loved how the petals were layered so I pulled back from the flower a little to bring a bit more of them into the frame. The colors were so sweet that they made me think of candy.
The flower in my Attractive composition, once again, has a similar color scheme with another distinctive center. I loved how the petals were layered and overlap each other here as well (that makes it easy to fill the frame with very nice colors). I also liked the furry looking edges of the petals in the very center and the stubble at the bottom of the petals next to them. The high level of detail allows individual hairs to be seen.
I only had a couple of minutes to check things out at the Chocolate Garden before heading back to the car for lunch. I looked at a couple of compositions, but didn’t feel that I had enough time to create anything. So, after our picnic, the Chocolate Garden was the first place I headed to. Due to conditions and lighting changes, none of the ideas I had before lunch looked good upon my return. However, I did discover the flower in my Chocolate Garden Hibiscus piece. The flower itself was quite large, but it was really low and close to the ground. That made positioning the tripod fairly challenging, and I had to work at it for a few minutes before I was able to manipulate the legs into a suitable arrangement. Aesthetically, I wanted the pistil to come down and away from the center of the flower vertically. I placed the two lower stigma discs on the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used that area as my focal point. That allowed the crossing line to fall nearly at the center of the stigma and lifted the pistil up into the corner of the frame. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen (on the stigma discs) and individual hairs (on the stigma stems) to be seen.
I loved the soft rolls and arcs in my Sugar piece. Of course, I was attracted by the lovely colors (they have a candy-like sweetness), but the abstract design I discovered at two times life-size was more than enough to ensure that this subject would be captured. I also liked the pink flames randomly scattered among the tubes in the very center of the flower. The high level of detail allows individual hairs and pieces of pollen to be seen.
The flower in Party Colors wasn’t exactly in the Butterfly Garden. There was a small section along the bathrooms that are near the Butterfly Garden that was full of these beauties, and their pinks, purples, reds, and yellows called me over to them. In fact, there were no other flowers that colorful in any of the other gardens. I loved the color scheme and how the pinks/purples change to reds/oranges. I also loved the nice little water drop at the tip of the disc floret. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs to be seen.
We took a picnic lunch over to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens in early July. I created and scouted in the morning, had lunch, and then continued creating after lunch with a little more scouting as well. I look forward to having an opportunity to shoot when the iris is in full bloom (perhaps this coming summer).
The lush oranges and the abstract pattern formed by the rolled up petals near the center attracted me to the flower in my Rolls piece. In my mind’s eye, the objects concentrated in the very center (and seeping around the tubes) looked like little red and orange flames. Their points and sharper edges are softened by the circles, arcs, and curves of the petals. Taken together, they create tension in the center that dissipates in waves that flow out into the frame as the petals become larger and open up after being released. The sharp points along the curved edges of the petals help strengthen that feeling.
My artistic goal for Vortex was all about capturing the pink and red structure that forms an arch above the unopened disk florets in the center of the flower. Perhaps because it has a hole in it or because the shapes are curved like they are being forcefully pulled toward the center, it brought to mind a whirling eddy. Upon closer examination, the sharp tips lining the opening reminded me of the Sarlacc pit in the desert of Tatooine in Star Wars Return of the Jedi. I placed the mouth near the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it for the focal point. Shooting at two times life-size quite close to the subject, the depth of field was very shallow.
I discovered the hibiscus in Pink Tinge at the Butterfly Garden. It was quite large which initially got my attention all by itself. I liked how the flower had pink tones that were blended in with the whites of the petals. Of course, the water drops were a bonus and all but forced me to create a composition. I placed the stigma discs very near the lower right side crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as the focal point. I felt that placement gave the center reds, pistil, and petals a nice circular flow both into and around the frame.
I had a couple of artistic goals for the zinnia in my Churn piece. First, I wanted to capture the ring of disc florets. But, being directly over the top of them wasn’t desirable because I preferred maintaining approximately the same amount of space to the frame edges and including more of the petals. So, to do that, I used a perspective that allowed more petal length while simultaneously compressing the ring. As I’ve previously posted, more often than not, photography is about compromises. With the distance to the subject being so close, the depth of field was very shallow, but the angle I used forced the disc florets to deflect away from the camera’s sensor. Which meant that they would quickly exit the zone of sharpness that begins just before the focal point on the left side. Secondly, I wanted the petals and the gaps between them to feel like they were shooting out like sunstar beams from behind the disc florets.
I liked the design in the center of the daisy in my Bloom Ring piece. The disc florets that aren’t yet blooming produce a nice abstract pattern all by themselves. I made the aesthetic decision to place the flower so that the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed it directly at the midpoint. I also found it interesting that the disc florets that have bloomed form a ring (perhaps because they started from the outside and are working their way toward the very center). I came across this flower in one of the smaller, side gardens at the Aiken County Historical Museum. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.