Just a simple concept was enough to attract me to the canna lily leaves in my Down The Drain piece. As I looked down the tube formed by the rolled leaves, my artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition that ventured into them. I loved how they were swirled and pulled my eye deeper inside. In my mind’s eye, the spiraling effect immediately made me think of a drain. With the very shallow depth of field my experimental macro rig produces, making a determination as to where the focal point should be placed was tricky. To increase my possible opportunities, several compositions were created with varying focal points. I then selected the most aesthetically pleasing winner during my post processing evaluation phase using the much larger computer monitor. Having a decently sized display (e.g., 27 inches) allows the ability to get a good overall feel of your artwork and makes picking the most desirable version easier. And, don’t get me wrong, the promotion decision is strictly based on emotional response.
I was attracted to the canna lily scene in my Injection piece by several factors. For example, the overall naturally abstract feel, the lively striped background, the bands around the center stalk, and the fantastic dew drop. This was one of those settings where you’re so pleased it makes you chuckle with excitement and anticipation. In my mind’s eye, the large drop near the top of the needle-like protrusion immediately made me think of a liquid that had been forced from a syringe to ensure that no air bubbles exist. Because I placed the focal point on the drop, the background stripes can be seen within it, which created another visually appealing element. Even though the depth of field is quite shallow, enough detail remained in the background to create a psychedelic feel. The background is actually fairly wet and covered with lots of dew drops, but they are faded just enough to where they add additional interest.
This is the final post from my visits to the Yonce farm. It is such a great place to find colorful and interesting subjects. I also had a couple of nice visits with Bob after having created during the best light of the morning. The last time we met he was recovering from being run over by his antique tractor in an unusual, freak accident where he managed to start it while it was in gear when standing in front of a rear wheel. He was actually pretty lucky to get out of the situation as well as he did because the outcome could have been much worse. He indicated that he was going to continue to “slow down” and maybe concentrate on the front gardens while letting the others go in the coming growing season. I hope to get back over there soon if for no other reason than to just visit with them.
I was attracted to the coleus leaf in my Veins piece by the designs and patterns on its surface. I discovered this leaf in the same location as the leaves I wrote about in a previous post. <URL to Macro Abstract Coleus Leaves At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC> Once again, I felt that this scene would be a welcome addition to my Naturally Abstract gallery. My initial artistic vision was to capture the spatter-like features since they have an undeniably abstract feel. But, in the process of doing that, Mother Nature modified the appearance of the leaf. The golden hour light washing over the cuticle created a whole new set of desirable characteristics. I normally prefer even lighting, and I composed several images that didn’t have any sunrise highlights. However, in this case, the addition of the light and shadows along the inner veins accentuated their depth and dimensions. Beyond that, I felt that it added another abstract layer underneath the spots along the arches. I very much preferred the combination of the abstract layers. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I was attracted to the canna lily in my Orange Canna piece by the hues. In fact, they called to me from all the way across the width of the farm’s largest garden. I simply had to determine what type of flower had such gorgeous orange and yellow tones. I was surprised to learn that it was a canna lily since I had not previously seen one clad in those colors. My artistic vision was to concentrate on the stigma while capturing all of the curves, arcs, and lines, and I felt that doing so would ensure that I could add another subject to my Naturally Abstract gallery. Even though the morning sun was providing nice front lighting, it was a bit too harsh. So, I used a diffuser to level it out and remove the hard shadows. The high level of detail allows surface texture and pieces of pollen to be seen.
My excitement level shot off the scale upon seeing the abstract pattern and colors in this canna lily leaf. For my Canna Waves piece, I tried to capture as much of that initial scene as I could get. Though not all of the backlighting remained, I was fortunate to be quick enough to utilize some of it for this composition. I would have needed to be stationed in front of the leaf with everything perfect and ready to go before the sun reached its sweet spot in order to catch what I originally witnessed. Most folks don’t realize how fast the sun changes, but for photographers that have waited for the right light during a rising or setting, we know full well just how ephemeral it is. I was only able to create a couple of images before it was completely gone from this setting. Mother Nature did give me a little bonus dew drop though.
I liked the yellows and greens on the daylily in my Irresistible piece. I also liked the area of chicken fat along the petal edge. Something, perhaps some type of bug, has taken a bite out of one of the front anthers on its left-hand side. I don’t mind having imperfect subjects every now and then especially if it makes them more interesting. In this case, it made me wonder what would do that. I guess it didn’t taste all that good since the missing portion isn’t very big. Surface texture and individual pieces of pollen are visible here as well thanks to the high level of captured detail.
I was attracted to the colors and naturally abstract feel of the coleus in my Zapped piece. I discovered this in a pot on the side of the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum in Hopeland Gardens. I’ve created several compositions from the same area over the past couple of years so I normally spend some time exploring the leaves when they are showing off their best colors. My artistic vision was to place the vein on a diagonal across the frame as if it were conducting a surging bolt of energy that was lighting up the surrounding area and brightening the browns into gorgeous reds. I loved how the colors were brightest next to the vein and then gradually decrease in intensity as they flow away from it – exactly how you would expect charged particles to behave. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs to be seen.
I loved the pattern formed by the colors in my Purple Lightning piece. In my mind’s eye, I instantly saw a flash of lightning. My artistic vision was to place the high voltage spark on a diagonal as it shoots across the frame. This is another prime example of why I love macro photography. Finding scenes like this gives me motivation and encouragement to continue getting up before the sun, pack my heavy equipment around for hours, and keep searching for similarly enticing subjects. I also find it amazing that Mother Nature paints images of events she creates. Surface texture and individual hairs are visible here too thanks to the high level of captured detail.
While making my way around the pond that used to have the dock in it at Hopeland Gardens, I decided to venture down closer to the water. The shape of the flora in my Vein Wheel piece drew me in to it. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but it looked like a round leaf. My artistic vision was to add to my naturally abstract collection by getting close enough to the leaf so that the veins emanate out into it from the center point like the spokes of a wheel. I placed the center point of the veins very close to the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, so that they could stretch across the frame from an aesthetically pleasing position. I also loved the greens (especially the darker tones that remind me of jade). Surface textures and a couple of dew drops are visible thanks to the high level of captured detail.
Hopeland Gardens has three rectangular fountain areas that, as legend has it, are actually the foundation of the original Iselin home. The largest one of them normally has soothing, bubbling sounds coming from the water being pumped out of the fountains in the center of it. In addition to pleasing your auditory senses, it has good sized pots on each corner that usually have some type of flora in them. I’ve composed many images from those flowerpots over the years, and I discovered the leaf in my Wet Christmas piece growing from flora that was planted in one. I was attracted to the scene by the Christmas colors (reds, greens, and whites), but the naturally abstract qualities were an even bigger impetus. My artistic vision was to put the two larger veins running diagonally through the frame. Aesthetically, the position felt best when the center of the crossroads where all of the veins meet was placed near the upper, rightmost crossing line using the rule of thirds. The wet surface helps bring out the saturation and increases the abstract feel.
The big leaves in the swampy area at Hopeland Gardens make wonderful subjects in the fall when their colors start to change. I have written about and posted several examples over the years because I love the patterns that can be found as they begin to expire (e.g., Fire Veins, Lava Leaf, and Closing In). When they are backlit by the golden tones of a morning sun, as the leaf in my Cessation piece is, they are able to elevate my excitement to another level. As I scan their locale looking for subjects to investigate from the trail at the top of the berm between the swamp and the pond, backlit leaves with these colors act like a beacon that my eyes immediately lock on to. At that point, there is a limited amount of time available to create a composition. The window is short lived due to the fact that the sun has to rise above the trees that keep the swamp partially shaded, and by the time it does, there is very little golden light remaining. I loved the last vestiges of Chlorophyll in the green pockets and tracing around the outline of the yellows and oranges, and I was captivated by the thought that Mother Nature will paint a different pattern on every leaf that reaches this stage of life. This leaf is very likely the only one that will ever look exactly as it does. The high level of detail allows texture and tiny leaf veins to be seen.
I’ve previously written about the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum that is within the Hopeland Gardens boundary, but I had never created any compositions from the dogwood trees beside it. On the morning I composed my Dogwood Berry piece, the abundance of red berries called me over to that area. While fall hadn’t officially started (at least on the calendar), some of the leaves were already displaying their seasonal colors. After locating a berry that was near a colorful leaf, I found an angle that allowed me to place the berry on the right side of the frame while centering it vertically. That arrangement opened up the left side of the frame so that the leaf colors could be pulled into the background. My artistic goal was to keep as much as I could of the berry’s surface area in sharp focus, which is challenging using a single image because the camera’s sensor plane is flat and the berry is round (i.e., there will be falloff as the surface curves away). The high level of detail allows tiny hairs and texture to be seen.
Hitchcock Woods is an amazing resource to have right in our city, and I’ve written about it in previous blog posts. That being said, I don’t usually hunt for subjects within it using my macro rig. But, this particular morning I didn’t have any luck finding something to point my camera at on the grounds of the Aiken County Historical Museum so I decided to hike down some of the horse trails to see what I could find.
The leaf in my I Heart Nature piece immediately drew me in primarily due to its shape. After all, the heart symbol is a universal ideograph that represents love, and, being a nature lover, I had a strong desire to capture a scene expressing that sentiment. I also found the greens quite attractive. In fact, one of my artistic goals was to find an angle that allowed me to fill the background with as much green as possible while avoiding the creation of darker brown areas where the dirt on the ground could be seen behind/under the leaves. Additional aesthetic concerns were leaf placement (both angle and position in the frame) as well as depth of field control. I put the leaf in the sensor on a diagonal so that it wouldn’t feel static or centered even though I gave the subject about the same amount of breathing room on either side and kept the distance from the top of the frame nearly equal to the space at the bottom. I sought as much detail as I could get in and on the leaf’s surface, but I also wanted the background to quickly fade away. When there is sufficient distance from the subject to the background, depth of field can be increased while maintaining good bokeh, but when objects in the background are close to the subject, you have to compromise. In this case, I had to open the lens incrementally until I found the right amount for this composition (i.e., where I was getting as much detail as possible from the subject while simultaneously decreasing features of the background leaves). This is another time where your camera’s depth of field preview really pays off because you can use it to dial in the setting while you observe the effect across your work. Even though I reduced the depth of field, the high level of captured detail allows surface texture to be seen.
I had been keeping an eye on the colorful, newly planted coleus in the big, back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum since I first discovered them. In fact, I had looked at several different possible compositions on a previous trip, but couldn’t quite get everything that I wanted so I hadn’t captured anything. At the time I created my Scimitar piece, the plants themselves were less than two feet tall and had fresh looking leaves with nice colors. While exploring them for enticing patterns, I came across one that reminded me of the type of blade that a pirate or genie might have. I placed the leaf in the frame so that the sharp tip and bottom left hand side had about the same amount of distance to their respective edges. I then found an angle that allowed most of my subject to be surrounded by the enhancing background colors of the leaf directly beneath it. I placed the focal point on the tip, and by keeping the sensor plane aligned with the leaf, as much as I could, I maintained sharpness across the surface. The high level of captured detail allows texture and tiny hairs along the edges of the leaf to be seen.