When I found this leaf near the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum it was starting to change colors, even though Fall hadn’t officially commenced. The colors of the leaves on the bush where I discovered this had already transformed enough to call me over and, once there, forced a closer examination of them. I selected this one for a couple of reasons: I loved the random patterns of decay and the colors it provided, it was relatively flat (which when shooting at two times life-size at such a close distance is an important consideration if you wish to maximize the zone of sharpness), it had some dew on the surface to enhance the colors, and its location had limited impediments to access. The wind being calm was also another significant factor in obtaining my Fall Insinuation piece as I needed eight seconds of exposure time. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual dew drops to be seen.
The discovery of the scene in my Black Stars piece was serendipitous. I found it on one of the trees along the sidewalk on the side of the house at the Aiken County Historical Museum and it wasn’t what I initially set out to capture. What originally attracted me to this area was some patches of nice pastel colors and a whole lot of holes burred into the bark in lines. After setting up the tripod and getting my first view, the lens was pointing toward a spot without any of the holes, but the star patterns more than made up for that. With the morning sun not yet up that far, it was pretty dark back there between the house and the wall, and this creation required 25 seconds of exposure time (which for macro is a fairly long exposure). Interestingly, after I had captured several frames of the stars, I took a look at the scene I had originally intended to frame – it wasn’t artistically pleasing. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
Coming around the side of the house and out into the front yard, I noticed a pine tree being lit by the sunrise. The golden light enhanced the bark that was peeling off in nice abstract patterns and I was thrilled with its colors. I examined the trunk for the area that had the best color in combination with the most aesthetic design. I loved the oranges, yellows, and browns in my Earth Tones composition. Surface textures can be seen here as well thanks to the high level of detail.
The flower in my Star Light piece was fairly large compared to the periwinkle I normally see. In fact, that is what caused me to stop and look at it more closely. And, I’m glad I did. I loved the little wheel looking object in the very center of the flower and the ample amount of yellow encircling it. I also liked how the white was shooting away from the center (i.e., beams of varying lengths that fade in intensity as they travel farther from the center) as if it was some type of light rays. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I discovered the group of periwinkle in my Pink Pair just off the sidewalk as I was headed toward the patio area. I found them attractive because they were fresh and pretty. I loved the subtle pink tones in their petals and their gorgeous centers. I placed the right side flower’s center on the right most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. Luckily both flower centers were nearly the same distance from the camera sensor which meant that the left side fell squarely into the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows individual hairs to be seen.
All of the pieces in this post are from the same box turtle at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I posted about previously. He let me get quite close to him without pulling inside his shell or trying to scuttle away. These naturally abstract patterns come from his back and were created by pointing the lens down toward his shell.
I was attracted to the area in my Expand composition primarily because of the colorful patterns. The main portion of the piece is a single scale with a darker edge that marks its boundary as it contacts the other scales around it. I loved the lines that trace the general outline of the scale and wondered if they were like the rings of a tree that could be counted to determine the age of the turtle. It certainly appeared to me that as this guy grew, his scales got bigger and, at some point, left an indentation that marked the end of a specific life period. I also marveled at his toughness. Something may have tried to eat him and, if so, perhaps their teeth punctured the main scale causing it to break and form a depression.
For my Armor composition, I slid the camera over to the left, switched the orientation to horizontal, and recomposed. While the pattern on the left scale is quite distinctly different from the pattern on the right, artistically, I felt that they worked well together.
I loved the pattern created by the yellows and oranges in Shield. For this piece, I composed down his spine. I loved how the top color blobs appeared to be being pushed away from the area where the two scales meet. As if the force of the bottom scale colliding with the top scale caused everything to shoot outward. The design of the lines in the top scale increase that feeling by having the appearance of waves that grow out and away from the epicenter.
As I was headed towards the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum, I came across the box turtle in my Red Eye piece. He was just sitting there in the grass not moving. I’ve posted before about being an opportunistic wildlife shooter and this was a great opportunity. He appeared to be fine with me being around him and only got a little concerned one time when I pushed down a blade of grass (using a stick) that was leaning on his back. I started creating images from about six to eight feet away and then gradually kept working closer to him. I was using a knee pad and had the tripod as low as it would go (it basically sets on the ground as I don’t use a center post). I felt like I needed to be laying on the ground, but it was wet from rain we had the previous night, and I didn’t have anything to lay on. I seriously considered it, but the thought of wet clothes and being bitten or stung by fire ants caused me to try something else. I got down as far as I could while still being able to see the viewfinder and then used Live Preview to focus the lens. I had tried that on one other occasion and didn’t care for the results, but this time it worked great.
I placed his eye on the left most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. I loved the reds in his eye and the oranges and yellows on his body. Being at eye level really makes a difference in a nature composition. I would have preferred a clean foreground, but this is a natural environment so I can live with the grass.
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 loved the greens combined with the dark red veins in my Wet Canna Leaf piece. This is another composition from the area along the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum where the canna lilies live. Because of its abstract quality (i.e., simple colors and lines), I really appreciated the ability of the dew drops to bring additional visual interest. Aesthetically, I didn’t want it to feel too mathematically exact or mechanical so it’s not perfectly centered within the frame, but it’s close enough to give the impression that I intended it to be.
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.
I believe that the blossom in my Standout piece is rose of Sharon. When facing west, this tree is to the right of the purple rose of Sharon (the same one that produced the bud in front of a bloom from a previous post) next to the wall in the Aiken County Historical Museum. I’ve noticed that they have comparable blooming schedules and their flowers have similar designs. This bloom was positioned by itself with lots of space around it and, more importantly, behind it (the background was clean all the way across Laurens Street to the trees on the other side). The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.