Macro Abstract Wood Surface And Knot At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Benched

When I moved to Aiken there was a huge Deodar Cedar tree on the south side of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum.  Not only did it have multiple trunks, the tree’s individual limbs were quite large (bigger than most of the trees in my backyard).  What made it even more interesting was how the pieces had grown up and out in that location.  The area they spanned could have easily been more than 20 feet across.  By all indications, the tree was a very popular spot for families and visitors to create snap shots or vacation photos – especially since with a little effort you could easily climb into the heart of them and find yourself standing several feet above the ground.  At some point a portion of the tree died and had to be removed.  Then a really bad ice storm came through a couple of years ago.  Aiken county was one of the hardest hit areas in the entire state and Hopeland Gardens took a serious blow.  Among the casualties was their Acacia, too many limbs to count, and what was left of the much beloved tree.  Fortunately, when the original paring was done, a portion of the tree was preserved, and, as a form of remembrance or dedication, it was used to create wooden benches that are placed near where the tree originally stood.

 

Macro abstract wood surface and knot at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Benched

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As a color junkie, I’ve been attracted to the surfaces of the benches for a while, but never found a composition that I was happy enough with to press the shutter.  With my Benched piece, that problem was overcome.  I liked the line that runs to and around the knot and, for aesthetic reasons, decided to place it diagonally so that it split the frame.  The center of the knot was placed near the bottom right one third crossing line, using the rule of thirds, but then bumped up and to the left a bit so that more of the diagonal line would remain in the frame.  The high level of captured detail allows rings and surface textures to be seen.

 

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Macro Abstract Fall Leaf At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Closing In

 

Macro abstract leaf changing to Fall colors at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Closing In

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I liked the naturally abstract pattern on the leaf in my Closing In piece.  I discovered it in the same swampy area of Hopeland Gardens that several other leaf compositions came from.  In addition to the pigment pattern painted across its surface, I felt that it was a poignant depiction of the end of a life cycle.  Very little of the original, healthy green of the leaf exists.  Nearly all of it has been replaced by stages of dying and death.  The yellows are the beginning of the end with the colorful oranges and reds of decay following close behind.  The browns are next in the timeline and then finally black (colorless and lifeless).  The green areas are trying to hold out, to continue providing their contribution to the sustainment of life, but they are losing and there is no hope of recovery.  The inevitability is inescapable.  The leaf will become nourishment for any number of other organisms and it provides a visual treat by presenting gorgeous colors on its way out.  As if Mother Nature wanted us to see that even death has positive attributes.  The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.

 

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Macro Abstract Tree Sap At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC: Part 9

Tree Sap: Part 9

Part 9 is a continuation of the Tree Sap blog posts from Hopeland Gardens.  To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 8, click here.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Spiked Drops

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The unusual shape of the sap in my Spiked Drops piece is what attracted me to it.  If you’ve been following my Tree Sap posts, then you’ll recall that there were two limbs that had been cut.  This was under the smaller limb and was hanging down far enough that the extremely shallow depth of field, when shooting at two times life-size, reduced most of the background bark down to simple colors.  Both larger drops have nice reflections and refractions.  I loved the smaller tapered drop and wondered how it could have been formed in that manner without colliding with the larger drop and being absorbed.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Molten

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Molten is the final sap composition I was able to create.  I was surprised that a collection of sap so large still had such good clarity.  Most of the sap runs had at least started to dry and were turning a milky color.  These drops were lower on the tree trunk beneath the area where the larger limb had been trimmed.

 

I love the colors that the lowest drop on the bottom has pulled in and the color striations in all of the drops.  They also have some very nice multicolored refractions and colorful reflections.

 

The pieces in this series of blog posts, taken as a whole, feel like some type of a project – especially since I became accustomed to shooting at their location.  I was able to create compositions nearly all season long starting from the time I first discovered the limbs had been cut and the tree had sap running down it.  When there wasn’t much to point my camera at on any given day, I knew that I could at least get something from the sap tree.

 

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Macro Dew Covered Carolina Anole At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Wet Hunter

 

Macro dew covered Carolina Anole at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Wet Hunter

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Prior to creating my Wet Hunter piece, I was exploring the swampy area in Hopeland Gardens where a couple of my favorite leaf compositions have come from looking for another leaf that had turned the right color and would be backlit by the rising sun.  I didn’t find any cool leaves, but while I was searching, I looked up and this anole caught my eye.

 

Though I’ve posted previously about being an opportunistic wildlife shooter, the scene was simply too good to ignore.  I created more than 240 images in an effort to get the best pose that I possibly could.  I really had to work to get this.  Multiple perspectives were needed because the rising sun occasionally brought too much light into the background which forced me to find an angle that looked into an area with better balance.  Additionally, I used decreasing camera to subject distances as I worked my way closer by carefully repositioning the tripod.  It likely would have taken fewer images under better conditions, but the wind was blowing the cattail around (which by extension was moving the anole), and my subject would not sit still for very long.  It was frequently moving its head, and, when the head was still, the eye was moving all over the place.

 

I loved the dew drops all over its body, the position it was in, how the tail was wrapped behind the cattail leaf, the cattail head, the angle of the cattail leaf (diagonally up through the frame), and the nice colors.  I love artistic nature pieces – especially work from the late Ronnie Gaubert (one of my luminaries).  Ronnie had an ability to present nature as both documentary and beautifully artistic, and I think I may have been tapping into some of his influence that morning.  This was my favorite of the several images I kept, and the others that made the cut are available as stock only.  The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual dew drops to be seen.

 

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Macro Abstract Hibiscus Leaf At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Meal Design

 

Macro abstract partially consumed Hibiscus leaf at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Meal Design

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My Meal Design piece consists of three basic components: a hibiscus leaf, sepal, and petal.  I loved the design cut into the yellow leaf likely by some type of insect that had eaten it.  I placed it in the frame so that the midrib would run diagonally while filling the bug holes with the colors of the petal behind it.  With a bit of aesthetic luck, the ribs of the background petal were also running up the frame on diagonal lines.  I couldn’t do much with the green sepal as it was connected to the petal, but I felt that it was fine adding just a touch of additional color to the lower corner.  The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual fibers to be seen.

 

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Macro Tree Seeds At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Seed Pods

 

Macro tree seeds at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Seed Pods

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Catching a glimpse of what looked like seeds on a tree in Hopeland Gardens, I decided to investigate a little closer.  I walked around the tree and checked high and low, but only a single cluster of the seeds was in a position that could be utilized and was aesthetically pleasing.  The rest of them were either partially or completely covered by leaves, hidden or obscured in some other way, had undesirable backgrounds, etc..  I liked their design, how they were hanging, the leaf behind them, and the background in my Seed Pods piece.  The sharp, pointed tips of the seeds are echoed in the middleground leaf by its serrated edge while the deflated seeds provide a calming tone between the two.  The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual hairs to be seen.

 

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Macro Abstract Tree Sap At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC: Part 8

Tree Sap: Part 8

Part 8 is a continuation of the Tree Sap blog posts from Hopeland Gardens.  To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 7, click here.

 

 

Macro abstract tree sap at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Big Drop

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The sap in my Big Drop composition produced one of the largest single drops I had seen while creating these pieces.  I liked the mostly moss filled green background and this drop had a little bit of everything going for it.  For example, it has a couple of very nice sunstars, pulled in and warped background colors, pretty blue reflections, rainbow and multicolored refractions, and crystalline strained and stretched areas.  Simply put, I couldn’t resist it.

 

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Macro Abstract Leaf At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Lava Leaf

 

Macro abstract leaf at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Lava Leaf

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Lava Leaf is from the same swampy area of Hopeland Gardens that produced Fire Veins.  In fact, they are both from the same type of leaf.  Additionally, it was backlit by the golden toned light of the rising sun.  I loved the colors and the design created by the skin transformation as the leaf passes through its final stages of life.  Upon finding this particular area of the leaf, it immediately made me think of molten rock streams flowing and mixing together as they pour from a volcano.  Discovering scenes like this is a major reason why I love shooting abstract macros so much.

 

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Macro Beautyberry At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Beautyberry

 

Macro Beautyberry at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Beautyberry

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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.

 

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Macro Abstract Waggie Windmill At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Waggie Windmill

 

Macro abstract Waggie Windmill Palm fronds at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Waggie Windmill

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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.

 

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