I liked how the berries in my Beautyberry piece resembled little purple balls. Taken together across a much larger area of the bush, they produce a fairly large area of color which is what initially attracted me to them. I searched in and around the bush until I found a branch that had an artistically pleasing layout of berries. I also liked the way the gorgeous green leaves provided support by being at both ends and in between each of the three berry tiers. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual dew drops to be seen.
I can’t even remember how many times I’ve looked for a composition using the palm tree in my Waggie Windmill piece. I have always felt that it held an artistically pleasing creation waiting to be uncovered, but over the years I’ve wandered the Hopeland Gardens grounds, I never found the right combination (i.e., too much wind, poor lighting, bent or broken fronds, etc.). But on this particular morning, all the pieces fell into place. The fronds were being backlit by the morning sun, the wind was calm, and the fronds had no imperfections. I loved the gorgeous green and yellow colors and the nearly perfect geometric pattern. Mother Nature even gave me a bonus – dew drops. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to reveal the beauty I knew was there, and I quickly took advantage of it before any of the key ingredients were lost.
I loved how the light was filtering through the layers and creating an orange tone in my Smoked piece. I discovered these mushrooms growing on a tree in Hopeland Gardens near the spot where all the green tree frogs were found earlier in the year. There were quite a few of them sprouting at various heights and in different areas. I walked around the tree checking compositions and framings until I was sure that I wanted to create with this group.
It seemed to have quite a lot of visible particles and/or dirt on the surfaces so I blew on it to try to remove some of the debris (as I’ve previously posted, I normally like to clean subjects in the field). This thing had a ton of bugs inside it and they started pouring out of every nook and cranny. Ants, maggot looking worms, flies, and who knows what else. I was quite surprised by how many bugs steadily streamed past me, but it must have something that they want or need. Or maybe they just liked it because it was stinky and smelled like it was rotten. It took a couple of times to expel the fragments and each time progressively fewer bugs emerged.
I wasn’t able to capture the coolest thing that happened. While I was between compositions, it started to emit something that looked like smoke. Likely some type of pollen, the substance was thick enough to where the inside of the mushroom appeared to be on fire.
Frilly was composed using mushrooms from the same group as Smoked. I loved the lacy edges and soft flaps under their surfaces. My artistic goal was to capture the layers of ornate rolls and pleated edges as they wind their way across the frame.
The sap in my Bubbles composition consists of several drops. I liked the shapes that were created by the drops merging with each other and flowing through one another. Because I really liked aspects of the top drop, I placed it on the upper left crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. I loved the smoky ribbon that winds its way through that drop and the colors and patterns it has pulled in. The most unusual feature of these drops is the amount of tiny bubbles above the top drop. They are difficult to see in the larger version, but if you look between the milky layers above the drop you will notice them. No other drops or runs of sap I saw had that. I also liked the refraction in the bottom drop with its reds, yellows, and blues.
The sap in Double Drop got my attention because of its shape. It looked a little precarious as well, and I thought that it might fall off at any moment. I framed the run on a bit of an angle so that it wasn’t so aesthetically static. It reminded me of the glass I saw once at the end of a glass blower’s pipe during a demonstration in Jamestown, Virginia. I loved the crystalline look and the colorful refractions and reflections.
In the smaller sized images, Stuck looks a bit like a messy, big pile of sap. But, in the larger print sizes it really comes to life (unfortunately, this web site’s large display size doesn’t do it justice. However, my POD site has the ability to show a portion of an image at 100% magnification which is more than enough to bring all those hidden details out. Click on the purchase link above to view this at my POD site or contact me if you would like details on how to access that functionality). I liked all of the various shapes and colors in the sap (especially the darker areas and the different brown hues). There are intricate reflections being pulled, warped, and stretched all over the surface areas as well as sun spots glistening from the surfaces and creating colorful refractions. There is so much to discover that you will likely find something that you previously haven’t seen each time your eye wanders around the frame.
While it isn’t a vertical companion, Piles is similar to Stuck. It includes the sap featured in Stuck, but I pulled back a little so that the entire area both above and below was captured. The same caveat applies here as well and it simply can’t be fully appreciated without viewing it at larger sizes.
I was attracted to the sap in my Flat Drop piece primarily because of its shape. It seems to be expanding horizontally and getting wider instead of longer. Which is curious because gravity should be pulling it down. I also liked the color striations and patterns inside the sap.
The run of sap in Crystal Streak caught my eye because of how clear (almost like glass) it was. I decided to frame it diagonally for several aesthetic reasons. First, it was so skinny that placing it vertically wasn’t nearly as visually interesting. Secondly, the gap created by the moss and bark added visual interest when placed beside it diagonally, but seemed to take away from it when vertical. And finally, the moss seemed to create a diagonal bed for the run to lay on with open bark areas in opposite corners (which didn’t exist when it was turned vertically). Even though it is thin, there are some nice colorful refractions and reflections.
With a bit more golden hour light on the scene in my Light Catchers composition, I moved the lens down the tree a little. Essentially, I placed the tip of the top drop on the first upper crossing line using the rule of thirds. That drop is also at the end of the sap run in Crystal Streak, and I loved how it was throwing light on the bark beside it. I also liked the random, abstract shape of the larger blob near the bottom of the frame and the fact that they are located diagonally from each other with the moss covered gap in the bark connecting them. Both areas have wonderfully colored reflections and refractions (with the top drop having rainbow like colors) as well as sunstars.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog posts, you may remember a post where I described the no longer operational fountain in Hopeland Gardens. I discovered the female box turtle in my Private Pond piece in the catch basin portion of the fountain system. When the fountain was functioning, water from the canal would flow into the basin where it would, presumably, be pumped back up to the starting point. With no water streaming down the canal, only surface runoff, rain, etc. can get into the catch basin. I’m not sure how she got into the basin, but, because the cement walls are pretty high, she was essentially trapped until it fills with enough water (or perhaps something else she could utilize) for her to climb out. I didn’t see any other turtles so she has the whole area to herself. I had been checking on her during previous trips, but wasn’t happy with the background or her position. Being completely surrounded by duckweed presented the best opportunity I had been given. While she remained perfectly still, her throat was moving in and out (which I liked because it shows movement and implies breathing).
I felt like I needed to go down by the water near the swamp’s edge in Hopeland Gardens the morning I composed First. That area, just before the wooden bridge closest to Whisky Road, is not some place I usually go, but something told me that I should (even if it was for nothing more than to see if there was anything worthy of pointing a lens at). On my way down the hill I scared a snake, but it didn’t go far and was trying to be still even though most of its body was exposed. Since it was going away from me, I couldn’t see its eyes, and I didn’t feel like there was a composition worth pursuing. It looked like it could be a water moccasin, but I figured it was probably a water snake. After never even seeing a snake the entire time I’ve created there, I couldn’t convince myself that it was a poisonous one. I didn’t even think about it the rest of the time I was exploring other areas, but on my way back from the Rye Patch, coming around from the other side, I wondered if it was still there. When I reached the area I was in earlier in the morning, I looked down and saw the snake once again. It had moved up away from the water and was laying partially in the sun with about half of its body in shade. I decided to see if I could tell what it was so I snuck down the hill a little closer to it and used the lens to magnify its eye. It was a water moccasin! A fat one (obviously it has been eating well).
I continued to carefully get closer and closer to the snake trying not to scare it as well as being VERY cautious. I moved slowly and always kept on eye on it. I was close enough to turn the lens horizontally for my Mug Shot composition.
I have some stock images of it that are within three to four feet from it, but without snake boots I was starting to get a bit nervous. If I could have easily escaped, I might have been a little braver and possibly got even closer. BUT, I had a HUGE disadvantage with the tree knees all over the place and the fact that I would have to go backwards up a fairly steep hill covered in slippery pine needles. I had made up my mind that if it came at me, I was going to abandon the tripod and camera and come back for it later. Trying to pick that up and get away from an angry water moccasin at the same time would have only made matters worse.
So if anyone was curious about the accuracy of the warning posters in the information areas, I can present proof that there are indeed poisonous snakes in Hopeland Gardens. I will now need to be MUCH more aware of what’s on the ground especially while exploring near the swampy areas. Either that, or start wearing my snake boots.
I discovered the stump in my Aged piece while exploring the grounds at Hopeland Gardens. I just happened to look down as I was walking through the area near where the acacia tree used to be and saw this cool abstract pattern on the ground. The stump had been cut off at ground level, and I could have easily passed right over the top of it without ever catching a glimpse. I loved how weathered and worn it looked. It reminded me of layers of rock and was almost as hard to the touch. The high level of detail allows surface texture and wood grain to be seen.
Fissures is from the same stump as Aged, but in a different area. The cracks and crevices made an interesting abstract design. The surface colors were enhanced a little by the golden light from the rising sun. I found the varying thicknesses of the layers interesting (some are compressed while others appear to be swollen). In fact, there are spots that don’t appear to have any layers at all (which is even more intriguing since one expects to see growth rings of some type). The high level of detail allows wood grain and surface textures to be seen here as well.
If you’ve been following my previous posts in this series, then you know that I had been composing around the areas where the limbs had been trimmed from the tree. At this point, those spots no longer had the most interesting subjects. Gathering Colors comes from sap that has dripped and run down onto the tree trunk. I loved the color striations and patterns being pulled into the two large drops. I also liked how the moss acts as a natural highlighter (i.e., it is positioned around the sap and only has a small amount of direct influence) as well as the flatter stretched and strained area immediately above the large drop with its crystalline reflections. The smaller double drip on the side was a bonus. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen (especially on the bark).
I framed the sap in Drips so that it would be on a diagonal. That aesthetic decision was made primarily because I wanted to ensure that I could include all three of the larger drops. I especially liked the pattern created in the middle drop with the refractions, reflections, and surrounding colors being pulled in. Though it’s on a bit of an angle, I also liked that the drop in the top right corner has a classic teardrop shape. Surface textures on the drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
I utilized a completely different perspective for my Flooded piece. Instead of lining up the camera’s sensor with the sap to maximize the amount of sharpness available in the shallow depth of field, I traded that in for a distinctive feel. I made the aesthetic decision to shoot up at the drops to provide more of a sense that they were running down toward the viewer. I loved the colors lit up under the sap and the reflections off from it as well as both clear and dark colored drops. With the high level of detail, surface textures can also be seen here.