While exploring the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum on a late spring morning, I came across the iris in my Gold Crest piece. It was immediately attractive because I don’t recall seeing a yellow one previously (at the museum or anywhere else for that matter). More than that though, I found the flame shapes on the crest especially appealing. I also felt that the lines on the falls had an abstract quality that was enhanced by the beard. My artistic vision was to frame the composition so that all of those factors were represented, and, because they were so cool, I used the flames as the focal point. I didn’t specifically utilize any rule of thirds lines while forming an aesthetically pleasing design, yet the flames are within the top one third while the beard and falls start very close to the bottom one third line. More often than not, I find that my recent placement choices innately gravitate towards those ratios.
After having worked the Chocolate Garden, I returned to the Butterfly Garden to give it a better going over. I had basically picked the low hanging fruit in the morning, but after lunch, I didn’t feel as pressed for time. That allowed me to go a little slower, take additional time to examine more perspectives, and create multiple frames of any given subject. Luckily the shooting conditions were quite favorable for midday (i.e., I had a diffused sky with periods of rain and not too much wind). I loved the size and gorgeous red colors of the buds in my Butterfly Garden Buds composition. I maneuvered around them until I could find an angle that 1) allowed me to keep the buds separated, and 2) have them originate from the top right corner and come down and out into the frame. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture and a rain drop can be seen.
Of the images I created featuring the flower in my Diagonal piece, I liked this one the best. I had a couple of initial objectives for this composition. First, I concentrated on the anthers and used them as my focal point. Secondly, I wanted a petal to run diagonally across and down the frame from left to right with the sharp tip ending near the lower corner. While I had resolved those two intentions, I felt that it could be improved with an additional change. I believed that it would be artistically stronger to force the majority of the filaments to originate within the frame (that is, to make it possible to see where they were coming from vice entering the frame from outside of it). So, I found a perspective that brought them back while maintaining the aforementioned goals.
I concentrated on the structures above the unopened disc florets in my Slit composition. In my mind’s eye, the center area reminded me of an eyeball, and the opening it has brought to mind a pupil. It felt almost as if Mother Nature had created a flower that could look back at its admirers. I positioned the lens to where the diameter of the eye used just about the entire height of the frame while the first one third line (using the rule of thirds) runs right through the pupil nearly splitting it in half. That also allowed the disc florets to create a fuzzy ring around the eye and exposed some petals.
I was attracted to the flower in Enticed by how unique the center was. While the flower had a similar color scheme (the very cool pinks/purples that change to orange), the middle was unlike any of the other flowers. For example, there are no disc florets or the cool looking flame like structures. That made me wonder if it was a different flower type completely (planted within the area along the bathrooms at the Butterfly Garden because it had comparable colors) or perhaps some genetically altered version.
Confectionery is close to being a vertical companion to Enticed. It is the same flower, but the perspective was changed. I loved how the petals were layered so I pulled back from the flower a little to bring a bit more of them into the frame. The colors were so sweet that they made me think of candy.
The flower in my Attractive composition, once again, has a similar color scheme with another distinctive center. I loved how the petals were layered and overlap each other here as well (that makes it easy to fill the frame with very nice colors). I also liked the furry looking edges of the petals in the very center and the stubble at the bottom of the petals next to them. The high level of detail allows individual hairs to be seen.
I only had a couple of minutes to check things out at the Chocolate Garden before heading back to the car for lunch. I looked at a couple of compositions, but didn’t feel that I had enough time to create anything. So, after our picnic, the Chocolate Garden was the first place I headed to. Due to conditions and lighting changes, none of the ideas I had before lunch looked good upon my return. However, I did discover the flower in my Chocolate Garden Hibiscus piece. The flower itself was quite large, but it was really low and close to the ground. That made positioning the tripod fairly challenging, and I had to work at it for a few minutes before I was able to manipulate the legs into a suitable arrangement. Aesthetically, I wanted the pistil to come down and away from the center of the flower vertically. I placed the two lower stigma discs on the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used that area as my focal point. That allowed the crossing line to fall nearly at the center of the stigma and lifted the pistil up into the corner of the frame. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen (on the stigma discs) and individual hairs (on the stigma stems) to be seen.
I loved the soft rolls and arcs in my Sugar piece. Of course, I was attracted by the lovely colors (they have a candy-like sweetness), but the abstract design I discovered at two times life-size was more than enough to ensure that this subject would be captured. I also liked the pink flames randomly scattered among the tubes in the very center of the flower. The high level of detail allows individual hairs and pieces of pollen to be seen.
The flower in Party Colors wasn’t exactly in the Butterfly Garden. There was a small section along the bathrooms that are near the Butterfly Garden that was full of these beauties, and their pinks, purples, reds, and yellows called me over to them. In fact, there were no other flowers that colorful in any of the other gardens. I loved the color scheme and how the pinks/purples change to reds/oranges. I also loved the nice little water drop at the tip of the disc floret. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs to be seen.
We took a picnic lunch over to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens in early July. I created and scouted in the morning, had lunch, and then continued creating after lunch with a little more scouting as well. I look forward to having an opportunity to shoot when the iris is in full bloom (perhaps this coming summer).
The lush oranges and the abstract pattern formed by the rolled up petals near the center attracted me to the flower in my Rolls piece. In my mind’s eye, the objects concentrated in the very center (and seeping around the tubes) looked like little red and orange flames. Their points and sharper edges are softened by the circles, arcs, and curves of the petals. Taken together, they create tension in the center that dissipates in waves that flow out into the frame as the petals become larger and open up after being released. The sharp points along the curved edges of the petals help strengthen that feeling.
My artistic goal for Vortex was all about capturing the pink and red structure that forms an arch above the unopened disk florets in the center of the flower. Perhaps because it has a hole in it or because the shapes are curved like they are being forcefully pulled toward the center, it brought to mind a whirling eddy. Upon closer examination, the sharp tips lining the opening reminded me of the Sarlacc pit in the desert of Tatooine in Star Wars Return of the Jedi. I placed the mouth near the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it for the focal point. Shooting at two times life-size quite close to the subject, the depth of field was very shallow.
I discovered the hibiscus in Pink Tinge at the Butterfly Garden. It was quite large which initially got my attention all by itself. I liked how the flower had pink tones that were blended in with the whites of the petals. Of course, the water drops were a bonus and all but forced me to create a composition. I placed the stigma discs very near the lower right side crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as the focal point. I felt that placement gave the center reds, pistil, and petals a nice circular flow both into and around the frame.
I had a couple of artistic goals for the zinnia in my Churn piece. First, I wanted to capture the ring of disc florets. But, being directly over the top of them wasn’t desirable because I preferred maintaining approximately the same amount of space to the frame edges and including more of the petals. So, to do that, I used a perspective that allowed more petal length while simultaneously compressing the ring. As I’ve previously posted, more often than not, photography is about compromises. With the distance to the subject being so close, the depth of field was very shallow, but the angle I used forced the disc florets to deflect away from the camera’s sensor. Which meant that they would quickly exit the zone of sharpness that begins just before the focal point on the left side. Secondly, I wanted the petals and the gaps between them to feel like they were shooting out like sunstar beams from behind the disc florets.
I was attracted to the iris in Risen by the brilliant yellow colors on the falls. The design they created reminded me of the flames that form at the end of a rocket engine when gas, fuel, or some type of propellant is burned. I liked the shape of the crest so I placed the focal point on it and let the rest of the flower parts assume their position in the zone of sharpness. Due to the color mixture and shallow depth of field, a streaking effect was created in the background which helped increase the sense of upward motion and of being propelled. The high level of detail allows surface textures and dew drops to be seen.
I had been searching for an artistically pleasing scene among the iris on the east side of the stage in Hopeland Gardens for quite some time. Since I wasn’t having any luck, I had considered leaving a couple of times and felt like I may be spending too much time in one place. I’ve previously posted about how I prefer to work in morning light and there is only so much of that each day. You can easily convince yourself that there is something better just around the corner waiting for you to come find it. But since there were so many purple iris blooming, I decided to keep hunting until I had covered the entire area before moving on. Once again, the “perseverance is half the battle” adage was proven. With nearly all the blooms inspected, I discovered the subject in my Inner Flower piece. This “thing” was growing out of the side of an iris and hiding close to the shoreline (in fact, I had to put one shoe on the wooden rail that runs along the shore for balance). I have no idea what it is, and I’ve never seen anything like it before. It certainly doesn’t look like any part of an iris so it could be some type of deformed growth. At any rate, I loved the shape of it, the fact that it was covered in dew, and the little gem-like blue liquid on the upper surface.
I occasionally see another photographer while I’m working in Hopeland Gardens, but I’ve never before seen artists that were painting. On this particular morning, a woman was painting at the gazebo that overlooks the pond almost directly across from where I was creating my Iris Spike composition. And there was a man painting on an easel that was setup in the walkway at the east end of the pond. I didn’t have time to talk to either of them, I just said, “Excuse me” as I walked past the man since it felt like I was interrupting him.
I was attracted to this flower by the sharp, pointed structure in the middleground behind the main subject. I’m not sure what part of an iris it is, and I’ve never seen anything like that before (I guess this was a morning of firsts). It shares some of the same colors as the foreground flower so it’s possible that it is similar to a bud that when fully opened will reveal another iris. I placed it prominently just off center because: it is unique; I liked the serrated edge, tapered tip, and softer, pleated, roll on the opposite side; and I liked the overall shape and colors. However, I purposefully left it on the other side of the flower by keeping the focal point on the falls, standards, and crest. My artistic vision was to say that it’s an important part of the story, but the flower is still the star of the show. The extremely shallow depth of field when shooting at two times life-size ensured that the background iris blooms would dissolve into colors. The high level of detail allows pollen, dew drops, and surface textures to be seen.
Being physically close or zooming in while exploring the beauty of a wild iris allows an artist to utilize different perspectives to create frame filing compositions. For example, by purposely placing the bright yellow signal near the bottom of my Iris Folds piece, I was able to create overlapping layers from back to front and top to bottom. The fall gives the impression of being crumpled as if the weight of all the layers above it are causing it to slowly collapse. I like the globe shape of the large dew drop and how the much smaller drops provide sparkles.
For Group Hug, I used a similar perspective but concentrated on the petals as they appeared to be embracing each other. The arches and curves enhance the feeling of camaraderie and familial bonds. Here too, the small dew drops add sparkle.
My Iris Dome piece used an entirely different perspective for the composition. Here I focused on the unusual dome-like shape of the fall. I like how the color in the veins becomes darker the farther it streaks down the fall until it eventually matches the purple of the petals.
The high level of detail captured on all of the pieces in this post allow surface textures to be seen.
I was attracted to the subject in my Purple Splash piece because of its outstanding colors and large size. For wild iris, this one seemed to have fairly large falls, and the signals with their vibrant yellow colors and lightning bolt shapes were undeniably enthralling. As this was created at the shoreline of the largest pond in Hopeland Gardens, I may have been influenced by the fish jumping nearby, but I felt that this perspective gave the composition a sense of waves rolling out and away from the interior of the flower following a splash. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.