When I found this leaf near the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum it was starting to change colors, even though Fall hadn’t officially commenced. The colors of the leaves on the bush where I discovered this had already transformed enough to call me over and, once there, forced a closer examination of them. I selected this one for a couple of reasons: I loved the random patterns of decay and the colors it provided, it was relatively flat (which when shooting at two times life-size at such a close distance is an important consideration if you wish to maximize the zone of sharpness), it had some dew on the surface to enhance the colors, and its location had limited impediments to access. The wind being calm was also another significant factor in obtaining my Fall Insinuation piece as I needed eight seconds of exposure time. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual dew drops to be seen.
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.
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.
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.
I loved the greens combined with the dark red veins in my Wet Canna Leaf piece. This is another composition from the area along the south wall at the Aiken County Historical Museum where the canna lilies live. Because of its abstract quality (i.e., simple colors and lines), I really appreciated the ability of the dew drops to bring additional visual interest. Aesthetically, I didn’t want it to feel too mathematically exact or mechanical so it’s not perfectly centered within the frame, but it’s close enough to give the impression that I intended it to be.
The Aiken County Historical Museum has several gardens within the walls that border their property, and a variety of flora can be found in them. I was attracted to the hosta in my Arcs composition primarily by the size of the leaves (they’re huge), and, I must confess, because of the gorgeous green colors. As I was more closely examining a leaf, I felt that the veins formed a very nice abstract pattern. The rolling, curved sections reminded me of waves and bring a sense of motion as they appear to move from left to right and expand up and out to the top corners of the frame.
I mentioned in a previous post that the Aiken County Historical Museum was surrounded by a fairly substantial wall. In some places along the wall, grass or other natural cover exists, but in other spots there are areas with a variety of flora (including flowers and flowering bushes). Both of the pieces in this post were discovered next to the wall that borders the south side of the property.
I was attracted to the leaf in my Life Lines piece by the size and color. This leaf is quite large and since it was primarily backlit, the colors were especially striking. I placed the midrib diagonally because I liked how the veins flowed away from it out into and across the frame. Due to the shallow depth of field, I could have wished that the leaf wasn’t curled on the bottom, but artistically, I love the sweeping arcs. The high level of detail allows surface texture, water drops, and wetness to be seen.
I loved how the foreground leaf in my Lily Leaves composition was lit up by the rising sun. I worked the camera into a position where the subject leaf was still being backlit while the background was filled with another canna lily leaf. I liked how the complementary colors worked so well together. I also liked the little tip, the darker ribs, and the water drops on the red leaf.
While exploring one of the swampy areas of Hopeland Gardens, I came across the scene in my Swamp Curves piece. I was initially attracted to it by the gorgeous greens in the leaves, but the sweeping curves of the foreground leaf convinced me to create this. I love the tiny dew drops along the edge of the leaf and how the curves seem to flow out and away from the midrib as if they were ripples on a green lake.
After a pretty good soaking rain from the previous day and night, I discovered some leaves with nice patterns of water drops on them in Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure what type of flora the leaves come from (perhaps various vines or other growth that is relatively short), but they do seem to have a surface that creates cool abstract designs when wet.
I loved the colors in my Indubitably Green piece. Nearly the entire frame consists of different shades of greens. Most of the leaves in the area where this was found were wet enough to create similar mosaics, so the trick was searching for an arrangement that was artistically pleasing. Combining that desire with finding a surface capable of providing the best sharpness with an extremely shallow depth of field, increases the difficulty level. The most desirable subjects are relatively flat and allow the camera’s sensor plane to be easily aligned with their surface. Several leaves were tried and rejected before discovering one that met my aesthetic requirements. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be visible.
The drops in Drenched were attractive because of their shapes. While some are fairly round, most are drooping and have more oblong, sloping, or swooping lines and curves that tend to give them a bit more character. Once again, I loved the colors. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be visible here as well.
My Sub Lime composition has an interesting mixture of several elements. The hard, sharp edges of the reflections combined with the soft curves of the drops provide a nice balance. I also liked the random placement of the drops and their shapes as well as how they seem to have a bit better ability to magnify the surface beneath them. Finally, the colors here were equally attractive as they were in the previous pieces. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture can be seen here too.
This is the first macro composition where I used a technique known as previsualization. Up until this point, I understood how it could be utilized, but the majority of references I had seen about its application were related to landscapes. Essentially you create a picture in your mind’s eye for how a given scene will look with the most favorable conditions. That is especially useful when scouting an area looking for the best position and/or perspective to compose from.
In this case, I discovered a large leaf near a muddy, swampy area of Hopeland Gardens that was turning brown and nearing the end of its life cycle. While examining it, I felt that if the browns were more red or orange, then it might make a killer subject. With the sun just getting above the trees, I thought that backlighting could do the trick. So I composed physically close to the leaf in Fire Veins making sure that the backlight coming through the brown would be colored the way I wanted it to be. I was absolutely thrilled with the result. After processing the RAW file, it immediately became one of my personal favorites. It has an undeniable sense of flames or energy shooting up, out, and through the leaf almost as if the core was exploding with power and heat. I really like how the veins carry the yellows, oranges, and reds across the surface as well as how, just like a flame, the intensity dissipates as it extends upward. I love capturing nature’s art, and even after months have passed, this piece still gets me excited.