I liked the design and colors of the flower in my Liriope piece. I used red flowers for the background and opened up the lens just enough to create a nice bokeh while maintaining as much subject detail as possible. As I have written in previous posts, having a Live View capability that can be paired with the Depth Of Field Preview is quite useful in these situations. Those functions allow you to see how the F-stop changes will affect your image thereby giving you an ability to dial in exactly what your artistic intent is.
The flower in my Up Close piece is the same type that was used for the background in the composition above. I searched through and around the entire bush to find a subject that would give me what I envisioned. Well, technically, I examined two bushes before settling on this particular bloom. My artistic intent was to exclude any greens from background leaves while placing the center of the small flower in the upper portion of the frame. To do this, I had to utilize my Frankenstein lens configuration. Even though this was composed at less than two times life size magnification, the key was being able to get physically closer to the flower because that allowed me to only include what I wanted. Surface textures can be seen here thanks to the high level of detail.
On my way through Hopeland Gardens, I noticed some nice colors just outside the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall and Museum. So, I wandered over there to investigate and discovered plenty of flowers that had been planted since my last outing. I searched through most of them before deciding to work the flower in my Encircled piece. I placed the center of the flower in the frame where the left most one third line (using the rule of thirds) cuts right through the middle of it. I love that there is a row of open florets going around the outside of the center and the high level of detail. Tiny hairs (both coming off the center of the flower and on the petals) as well as dew drops can be seen.
The tree sap in my Nugget piece was essentially in the parking lot at Hopeland Gardens. In fact, I noticed it on a small tree just behind my vehicle as I was putting my gear together. So, it definitely got bonus points for proximity. However, it was exceedingly difficult from a lighting perspective, and one of the most difficult compositions I’ve faced in a long time. I used both a deflector (to calm down the highlights on the bumpy, modeled surface) and a reflector (to add golden light back on to the subject). From an artistic perspective, I felt that all of the reflections and refractions helped create a very nice abstract, and I loved the gorgeous oranges, yellows, and reds.
I found the naturally abstract scene in my Blues On Blues piece while exploring an aster at nearly two times life size magnification just outside the dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen scattered around all through the image.
I found the flower in my Dedicated piece on the ground underneath one of the camellia trees at Hopeland Gardens. I believe that it had recently fallen off the tree since it was in pretty good shape (i.e., it wasn’t burnt or frost bit). I loved the contrast between the pink petals and the yellow anthers, and I felt like it would make a good vertical, but not while it was on the ground. So, I carefully picked it up and transported it to one of the dedication benches. There I was able to create a composition of it much easier as it was higher and quite stable with little interference from the wind. Due to the high level of captured detail, surface texture and pollen can be seen.
Being a color junkie, I don’t compose too many white flowers, but I made an exception for the magnolia in my Button piece. In this case, the overall design and flow of the petals outweighed any concerns regarding lack of color. That being said, I did find the subtle pinks near the center of the flower attractive and, of course, the green was nice as well. Pollen can be seen here too.
The camellia in my Fountain Camellia piece was another one I found on the ground. I liked it because it had good colors and seemed to have rather large anthers. Being right next to the large fountain pool, I was able to pick it up and move it to the base of one of the dog statues. That allowed me the ability to compose straight down into the flower. My artistic vision was to create an abstract where the focus was on the anthers. Tiny dew drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
I was initially attracted to the camellia in my Stamen Forest piece by the fantastic pinks and reds. That being said, the stamen with their very nicely contrasting yellow anthers and white filaments added to the overall appeal. My artistic vision was to use a horizontal orientation so that the stamen would come up into the frame while nearly filling the entire length. In my mind’s eye, and especially at nearly two times life size magnification, the filaments reminded me of trees. Surface texture can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
The camellia in my Rolled Edge piece had not yet completely opened. In fact, the focal point of the subject is the edge of an inner petal. Upon seeing this flower, I instantly knew how I wanted to compose it. My artistic vision was to create an abstract using the edge by placing it diagonally in the frame. Even with the incredibly shallow depth of field at two times life size magnification, tiny dew drops can be seen along the petal edge and on the surface of the petals.
While making my way out of Hopeland Gardens heading back to the car, I came across a small oil slick on the big pond. It was just off the path in the water on the far west side close to where I’ve found lots of canna lilies and iris subjects over the years. I was instantly attracted to the scene in my Iridescently Tensile piece by the colors, but after seeing it through my macro rig, the naturally abstract feel of the design was equally alluring. Several environmental aspects made the composition difficult to achieve. The diffusion that morning was still quite heavy even though it was later and would have normally been burned off by then. Cloud cover, or in this case, dense fog can be good for many situations, but the lack of light requires a tradeoff. I’ve posted before about how photography often boils down to compromises. When you don’t have much light, that’s OK as long as your subject isn’t moving. But, in this case, there was movement. The wind wasn’t too bad (though there was a little), but the pond had some small waves on it. The fountain that shoots water up and out several feet was as active as it normally is too. Together those issues would have killed any chance of creating an image, however, the oil was on the water behind a wooden barrier so it wasn’t getting hit directly by the waves. Still, the surface of the water was swelling and contracting enough to cause problems. I lowered the depth of field as far as my aesthetic concerns would let me to gain back some shutter time. The majority, by far, of what I captured had to be thrown out because of motion. This was also the only image (out of the keepers) that had the tiny bubbles within the color bands. I’m not sure what caused them, but they were obviously ephemeral. I loved how the shapes were being stretched and pulled as well as all of the cracks, holes, and patterns.
My regular readers know that I’ve explained why I place mushroom compositions in my Flora gallery, but for the sake of everyone else, I do understand that they aren’t technically considered flora. Someday I might have enough images to where they will get their own collection, but until then, I feel like I need this disclaimer. Now back to your regularly scheduled program.
I discovered the mushrooms in my Triplets piece just off the trail that leads to the swampy area in Hopeland Gardens. I was surprised by how many were growing on the side of the hill, though that didn’t increase the number I felt were aesthetically pleasing. Indeed, I later found other groups of them nearby and in different locations around the pond that used to have the dock in it, but none of them met my expectations. These were the only ones that really caught and held my attention. I loved their colors and how they were touching each other as well as the overall scene (especially the quirky little flora squeezing between two of them). They were difficult to compose, though not for any technical reason. Since they were near the top of the hill and very low to the ground, I decided the best angle was below them. As I’ve previously written, working close to the ground can be a bit stressful for my old bones. And, getting the perspective that I desired was tricky because I wanted to keep the ground cover they had around them in the frame rather than the tops of trees or the sky. If you find yourself in a similar situation, essentially you just have to keep making small adjustments to your tripod legs until you have everything lined up correctly. The high level of captured detail allows surface textures to be visible.
As I wrote in a previous post, the Dollhouse at Hopeland Gardens is usually a good source for subjects, and I’ll always make my way around it to see what I can find. On the morning I discovered the rose in my Spread Out piece, I was attracted to it by the gorgeous pinks. Upon closer examination, I loved how the filaments had a squiggly look. In my mind’s eye they sort of looked like bent spaghetti. My artistic vision was to capture the chaotic, all over the place, feel of the filaments while including a somewhat random selection of anthers. Placing the stigma near the center and letting the stamens shoot out into the frame from that spot fulfilled my intent in the most aesthetically pleasing manner. I also used the stigma as my focal point and got lucky with where most of the anthers fell in the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and surface textures to be seen.
Occasionally I come through the stage area on my route around the Rye Patch and Hopeland Gardens. On the morning I discovered the trumpet vine in my On Stage piece, that was the course I was taking. Just as I came out of the building, the bright colors on the left-hand side caught my eye. Their angle and position made them even more attractive. Perhaps because the flowers were on the stage, in my mind’s eye, they looked like they were happily singing in full throat with their mouths wide open and teeth showing. I liked being able to capture features all the way to the back of their windpipe while the background leaves and vines consist mostly of shapes and colors. The high level of detail allows surface textures and tiny individual hairs along the petal edges to be seen.
While exploring the grounds at Hopeland Gardens, I came across a freshly cut stump. Perhaps the tree had become sick or developed some type of a problem because there hadn’t been any recent storms that could have caused damage. The vibrant, syrupy colors drew me in, but the naturally abstract patterns in my Honey Curves piece made it irresistible. I loved the sweeping, curvy arcs and lines. Aside from the scuff marks left behind by the saw blade, the surface colors were so rich that it almost looked like someone had applied a varnish or shellac to it.
While continuing to scan across the top of the stump, I was attracted to the scene in my Crazy Eyes piece by the interesting naturally abstract patterns. In my mind’s eye, the concentric circles immediately reminded me of googly eyes. Though the open knot area would have to be a major scar, the surface features also brought to mind a cartoon-like face. As I’ve previously written about stump art, I find it fascinating that only the exact cut that was made could produce the elements required to create this composition.
I found the patterns and deeper colors in my Historic Waves piece equally appealing. From an aesthetic perspective, I didn’t mind the dark purple knot area since I felt that it added some additional visual interest to the arcs and wavy lines. Given that the rings in a tree provide a history of its growth, this one certainly evolved through some odd shapes.