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.
Having great colors is almost an automatic way to get my attention, but occasionally I’m attracted to a given blossom by how easy I believe it should be to work with. That was the case with the subject in my Snowballs piece. This is on the same little bush at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I created an abstract from in a previous post and it offered several potential subject blooms. I loved the blood red colors and the design formed as the reds go from purples to pinks as they flow away from the flower’s center. I placed the snow white stigma discs on the lower crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as my focal point.
Perhaps the gardeners that care for the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum dug up the flowers that produced the bloom in my Translucent composition and replaced them with the plants that produced the flower in Quiet. The two flowers were from the same spot but their appearances are fairly dissimilar. I was attracted to this lily because the colors were different from the normally loud schemes I find and have composed. The softer, subtler, more pastel yellows, subdued whites, and gently curved anthers all produce a calmer, soothing feel which is nice (once in a while). It’s like listening to George Winston every now and then when you normally have Dokken, Judas Priest, and Van Halen playing.
I was attracted to the rose of Sharon in my Budding piece by the strong dark purple colors in the bud. This tree is very close to the west wall on the other side of the big back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum and has had some very nice blooms over the years I’ve been shooting there (some of which have been featured in posts on this blog). After discovering the bud, I searched for an angle that would allow the background to be completely filled with a bloom. Because of the very shallow depth of field when composing physically close to the subject at two times life-size, I was able to dissolve the bloom down to simple colors. The high level of detail allows individual hairs on the bud to be seen.