I discovered the flora in my Scribbles piece in the front garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum (not far from where I park). I loved the random, naturally abstract lines formed by the edges of the leaves. I’m not really sure what this thing is, but it kind of looked like some type of interesting cabbage. Since I wanted to even out the light (i.e., bring down the highlights and brighten the darks), I had to try several different angles before finding one that was acceptable. Tiny hairs and surface textures can be seen.
I liked the naturally abstract design of the hairs and seeds in my Feathered piece. As they were in the big, back garden at the museum and the black-eyed Susan were still in bloom, I worked the scene until I found an angle that allowed me to use the flowers as a very nice, colorful background. I reduced the F-stop a little from my normal setting so that no details remained in the background, but not enough to where I lost a significant amount of sharpness on the seeds. I’m not really sure what type of flora the seeds are from, and I hadn’t ever come across any like them at the museum on prior trips. Surface textures, single strands of hair, and tiny dew drops are visible here.
While my Seeds piece is not quite a vertical companion to Feathered, it was composed using the same group. For this composition, I moved the camera closer to the subjects, rotated to a vertical orientation, and bumped the F-stop back up to ensure that I was able to capture all the fine details in the hairs. Along with the black-eyed Susans in the background, dew drops, single strands of hair, and surface textures can also be seen here.
I found the flora in my Berries piece in the big, back garden at the museum. I had noticed some small flowers (and even considered several different compositions featuring them) on this bush earlier in the year. Perhaps this is what they became. At any rate, I loved the purple and blue colors and their vertical pattern. My vision was to capture the way the stems artistically bring the berries up and out into the frame as well as their combined design. This is another example of a very long exposure (especially for macro) where a full ten seconds of shutter time was used. Surface textures can be seen on the berries and the stems.
I concentrated on the head of a black-eyed Susan for my Portrait piece. I liked how the background petals dissolved into simple colors and shapes while creating a ring of lines emanating from the head. I also liked how the dark browns of the florets have a fiery red tone along the edge where the light influences their color. Tiny hairs and individual pieces of pollen can be seen within the zone of sharpness that starts at the focal point at the top of the head.
Not many subjects were left and/or blooming in the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum where I found the flower in my Attached piece. Luckily, this flower was in pretty good shape. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition by focusing deep within the flower where the filaments and stigma originate. I also wanted to pull in some of the pinks and reds from the petals so I placed those colors in the background along the top and bottom of the frame. I liked how the greens in the center are being backlit causing that area to appear to be glowing. At nearly two times life size magnification, the depth of field is incredibly shallow.
I liked the naturally abstract design that the anthers created on the flower in my Anther Crossing piece. This is a different flower than the one in Attached, but still on the same plant. My artistic vision was to center the anthers in the frame horizontally while using an angle that allowed the filaments to streak up towards the corner on the right-hand side. At nearly two times life size magnification, the filaments dissolved into simple colors and shapes.
My Sweeping Pink piece was all about the naturally abstract design created by the flower’s petals. This is the same flower as the one in Anther Crossing. My artistic vision was to place the gap between the petals on a diagonal that runs from the lower left-hand side to the upper right-hand side. I liked how the petal’s surface on the left side of the gap has a rolling, wave-like appearance.
I found the flora in my Weed Star piece in the front garden of the museum not that far from where I normally park. The naturally abstract design of the leaves on the head was simply irresistible. I placed it in the frame so that the lower one third line (using the rule of thirds) cut through the core of the star formation. That artistic decision also allows the leaves to expand up and out in a similar pattern. Tiny hairs along the leaf edges can easily be seen.
I was attracted to the flower in my White Anther piece specifically because of the anthers. I discovered a couple of the flowers in the big, back garden at the museum, and I don’t recall ever seeing a flower there (or anywhere else for that matter) with white anthers that looked like these. Interestingly, some of the flowers on the same plant had black anthers though it’s possible that they were desiccated and/or dying. I also found the overall color scheme, with the pinks and greens, attractive. This was composed at two times life-size magnification which means that the depth of field is quite shallow. Even with that, individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
The curved shapes of the filaments in my Pastel Dream piece initially got my attention, but I also liked how the anthers fit within the frame. This was composed at nearly two times life size magnification which helped to produce the dreamy feel since the focal point is on the front anther and the rest of the flower parts quickly exit the zone of sharpness. Individual pieces of pollen are visible here as well.
My Stormy piece would not have been possible without the use of the Frankenstein lens I wrote about in a previous post. It allowed me to get physically closer to the coneflower and really zoom into the center of the flower (e.g., this is close to three times life-size magnification). It also required an enormous amount of shutter time (10 seconds) due to light loss (i.e., the extender, time of day, and cloud cover) and a higher F-stop. I loved the naturally abstract design and the colors. Individual pieces of pollen and tiny hairs can be seen.
The magnification level used for my Indian Blanket piece was more than two times life-size. And, once again, I could not have composed this without the Frankenstein lens. I liked the randomness of the hairs in this naturally abstract scene (almost like someone scribbled them in). For aesthetic purposes, I framed it so that some additional reds were added to the corners. Tiny dew drops and individual hairs are visible as well.
I loved how the tip of the leaf in my Flame Spike piece almost glowed as if it was being lit from the inside. This is the very tip of one of the leaves from the same plant where I found a fallen berry that been stabbed earlier during the year. Of course, this is nearly at three times life-size magnification and wouldn’t have been possible without the Frankenstein lens. To amplify the brightness of the subject, I used an angle that looked into an area of the background that was in heavy shadow. I loved the colors and how Mother Nature is basically screaming at anyone looking at it to keep their distance. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen along the edges of the leaf.
My Daylily Anthers piece was composed at two times life-size magnification. In addition to the artistic satisfaction factor, I created it to establish what could be called a baseline. That is, what my normal rig is capable of producing. I recently purchased a Canon 500D Close-up Lens that can be added to my current rig to get close to three times life-size magnification. Being at that level crosses over into an area known as extreme macro. It creates a bit of a Frankenstein lens, but it was less expensive than going to something like an MP-E 65, and my hope was that I could sort of get my feet wet in extreme macro while using something that I was fairly comfortable with. More from my Frankenstein lens to come…
Stamen Pair was composed with my Frankenstein lens and has a magnification that is more than two times life-size. With more magnification, the depth of field, which was already razor thin, is reduced even further. That makes for a wonderful background. Though the zone of sharpness is really shallow, individual pieces of pollen can still be seen.
My Rising Star piece was also composed with the Frankenstein lens. In my mind’s eye, I immediately saw a star shape on the flower that appeared to be ascending. I placed the center of the periwinkle where the top one third line (using the rule of thirds) cuts through it so that the star itself would be higher in the frame. Tiny drops of water and individual hairs can be seen.
My artistic vision for Wet Fox was to, as much as possible, fill the frame with the foxglove flowers. That required several different compositions to try to find the most aesthetically pleasing result while simultaneously eliminating the gaps around the flowers. Often that can be accomplished by simply adjusting the angle and/or distance from the subject. You can think of it as “working” your subject. While the camera’s view screen is absolutely necessary in the field, the best version is usually selected during comparisons using a large monitor. I love the details in the large drop and the tiny hairs that are visible around the petal edges.
In the big back garden at the museum, I discovered a type of iris that I had never seen before. I examined all of the viable blooms keeping in mind the different types of compositions that I was considering before settling on specific subjects. These flowers didn’t have the traditional beard that I normally see, and instead had what is apparently known as a crest.
For my Swish piece, my artistic vision was to create a horizontal abstract where the crest runs across the frame on a diagonal originating from the top left-hand corner. I loved the designs and patterns in the falls, their colors, and how they tend to accentuate the crest. I also liked the purple spots within the crest as they add a random quality. Tiny dew drops along the edges of the crest can be seen.
I liked how the crest in my Slithering Purple piece had a serpentine/winding look. My artistic vision was to create an abstract where the crest comes down into the frame diagonally from the top right-hand corner. I loved the colors and patterns on the falls here as well. While some of the dew drops are a bit larger on this iris, tiny ones can be seen along the edges and on the surface of the crest here too.
My Royal Accoutrements piece shows off more of the whole package as far as what these irises look like. While it still has some of the abstract falls, much more of the inner parts of the flower are on display. I found them to be quite intricate and pretty. In my mind’s eye, what looks like it could be a stamen reminded me of a scepter. Tiny drops of dew and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.