The colors and relative size of the subject in Color Veins drew me to it. I loved how the yellow just surges its way into the falls and then the colors change as the veins continue to spread across the surface. The piece has a powerful, almost electrically charged feel to it as if bolts of lightning were shooting up and out of the iris center. And the naturally highlighted area of transition where the yellow changes to white and then blue really adds to the spark-like impression. The high level of detail allows texture and contours to be seen.
The abstract composition of the subject in Signal was created by zooming in far enough to eliminate the normal flower indicators. Doing so reduced the piece down to colors, shapes, lines, and patterns. I found a group of these near the Doll House in Hopeland Gardens, and the brilliant purples and yellows called to me as if they were neon signs. It has an energetic, almost electric feel like high voltage sparks from a tesla coil or lightning bolts.
Shortly after creating the pieces in this post, I learned another lesson. The end result was an understanding that just because something is open to the public doesn’t mean that it is publicly available. To start at the beginning, I had read about the gardens and plants at Rose Hill and was intrigued by the possibility of finding another location similar to Hopeland Gardens that might offer macro subjects (especially something more exotic or that didn’t exist anywhere else in Aiken). I picked a day that they were closed to carry out my initial exploration of the grounds since fewer people typically means there would be more parking spots available and scouting is generally easier the less crowded it is. That appeared to be a good decision because I walked the entire area without seeing another person, but I didn’t discover anything particularly unusual. However, they did have some very nice iris. They seemed to be physically larger than others I had previously seen or captured and were quite pretty. I don’t normally take gear with me when investigating a new area, so I planned to return as soon as possible.
A couple of days passed before I made it back to Rose Hill, and, when I arrived, they weren’t yet open. I came in the back way since there was a gravel parking lot without a single car in it and that area was closer to the iris I planned to capture. I had worked several subjects and felt that I might have a couple of keepers, but fighting with the wind had slowed me down a little. I wasn’t quite ready to pack up and go home when a man came up and engaged me in a conversation. His first words were, “What are you doing here?” I thought that was a little strange since it was pretty obvious that I had a camera on a tripod and other gear in plain sight, but I answered, “Trying to get some images of these iris.” To that he asked, “What agency are you working for?” Not being a professional photographer, no one had ever asked me a question like that before. I didn’t even understand the concept of an agency, and I wasn’t really sure how to respond, but I managed to get out, “I’m not working for an agency, I’m just taking some pictures.” So he inquired further, “Who sent you?” At that point, I was starting to feel a bit uneasy. I wasn’t yet sure why, but this seemed to be leaning more towards an interrogation vice a conversation about what camera gear we use or what we like to point them at. Never-the-less I continued, “Nobody sent me. I just saw these a few days ago and wanted to get some shots of them.” Then he dropped a bomb on me, “You’re trespassing. This is private property.”
Ugh, I felt about two inches tall. I had no idea. I had mistakenly assumed that since it was open to the public, everyone was welcome to wander the premises. I apologized for being uninformed and for violating his privacy and assured him that it would never happen again and that I would leave immediately. I was ashamed, and I’m pretty sure he realized that because his tone changed. He told me that he was the owner, and we had a short conversation as I was tearing my gear down. He asked me if I was going to sell what I had created. At that point, I hadn’t really put too much thought into selling my work, but I did have a web site and it seemed logical that I might pursue that sometime in the future, so I responded affirmatively. He invited me to return and purchase a meal at his establishment while suggesting that we might have a conversation about my being able to return, with his blessing, to capture anything I was interested in. He was very fair.
Truth be told, I was too embarrassed to go back. In addition to that, my severe hypoglycemia means I’m forced to maintain a very strict eating schedule and it rarely lines up with the hours fancy restaurants keep. He requested only one thing from me; that anything I posted on my web page mentions that it was composed at Rose Hill. He may not even remember me or our conversation, but I am a man of my word, and it is important to me to keep a promise.
The perspective used to create Mouthful Of Color gives the impression of looking into the mouth of an iris. I was attracted to the gorgeous colors on display (especially the golden glow warming up the background). I also really like the beard and the random patterns in the fall.
The Iris Beard composition really is all about the beard. The physically large size of this specimen allowed me to isolate the beard away from everything else – removing any normal frame of reference that would indicate this was a flower. As there are no sharp edges with lots of round shapes and arcs, the piece has a soft, calm tone and feels almost like something you want to run your finger across or reach out and pet.
The subject in Rose Hill Iris really showcases the naturally abstract beauty inside of these flowers. I love the color transition in the fall from the darker reds near the top to the purples at the bottom, how the beard sits almost perfectly in the valley between the sides, and the subtle golden glow in the background. The soft tone combined with stunning glamour makes me feel like it expects photographers from miles around to knock each other over for the opportunity to shoot it. Considering my trespassing faux pas, that apparently makes me part of the fine art and nature paparazzi. 😉
The subject in Iris Crown is another example of one that I discovered while walking through an adjoining neighborhood during my daily exercise routine. Growing at the edge of the owner’s property, just off the road, the flowers initially piqued my interest primarily due to their colors. I had not seen Iris with the more subdued, pastel-like color scheme that these displayed. The colors set a softer, calm feeling across the piece and imply an elegant beauty. Upon beginning my macro exploration of the flower, I discovered a style crest that looked like a fancy crown floating above the beard. Perhaps I was in the presence of an Iris king or this particular family had descended from royalty. You just never know what you’re going to find when you seek the beauty within.
An Iris can be attractive when viewing the whole flower, but it may have as much, if not more, beauty on the inside. For example, the subject in my Dollhouse Iris piece was quite pretty and almost a color beacon when contrasted with the majority of hibernating life in Hopeland Gardens that winter afternoon. But, by positioning my camera to where I could create a composition under one of the standards, an entirely different scene was discovered. The veins of the fall, beard, and anther have a captivating allure all of their own. As I was composing this, I imagined the fall being a big tongue about to give the camera a loving lick.
In my Say Ah piece, I zoomed in much closer to this Iris. The proximity here eliminated a frame of reference and created an abstract composition. Looking at the fall, beard, and anther it felt like I was staring down the flower’s throat. The first thing that came to my mind was a doctor’s request when they are examining the inside of someone’s mouth, “Say ah.” I love the colors, the patterns in the veins, and the round, tubular shapes in the beard.
I’ve written about my passion for creating macro artwork in previous posts. Adding to that, I absolutely love placing the perspective so close to a subject that any normal frame of reference is lost. Macro offers an artist the ability to continue zooming in and discover beauty where only lines, patterns, and color can be perceived. This technique takes finding ‘the beauty inside’ to the next level. Welcome to nature’s abstract world.
The center of the Iris in Threefold was open in such a way that I could get quite close to it and remove telltale flower areas from the composition. I was thrilled with the thought of not easily revealing what this piece was, but more than that, I loved the colors and sweeping arcs. By having soft, round lines and surfaces while simultaneously being loud, it feels as if it is modestly showing off or gracefully busting out. Either way, it seems to be saying, “Here I am.” I also like the little bit of beard in the lower right hand side and the ability to see surface texture.