I discovered the interesting little scene in my Tree Dwellers piece growing on the side of a limb on one of the large, old trees in Hopeland Gardens. I was actually searching for interesting looking moss when the tiny mushroom caught my eye. It was so small that I wanted to get a better look at it through the macro rig lens, and, as soon as I did, I felt that it would make a very nice subject for a composition. I positioned the mushroom so that the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected it, and then vertically I brought it down a little bit below the center of the frame to keep it from being too neat and tidy. Artistically I wanted the tiny leaves or blades on the moss to be as sharp as they could be across the entire frame, so I used focus stacking to increase the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows tiny hairs and textures to be seen.
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.
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.
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.
The sap in Double Drop got my attention because of its shape. It looked a little precarious as well, and I thought that it might fall off at any moment. I framed the run on a bit of an angle so that it wasn’t so aesthetically static. It reminded me of the glass I saw once at the end of a glass blower’s pipe during a demonstration in Jamestown, Virginia. I loved the crystalline look and the colorful refractions and reflections.
In the smaller sized images, Stuck looks a bit like a messy, big pile of sap. But, in the larger print sizes it really comes to life (unfortunately, this web site’s large display size doesn’t do it justice. However, my POD site has the ability to show a portion of an image at 100% magnification which is more than enough to bring all those hidden details out. Click on the purchase link above to view this at my POD site or contact me if you would like details on how to access that functionality). I liked all of the various shapes and colors in the sap (especially the darker areas and the different brown hues). There are intricate reflections being pulled, warped, and stretched all over the surface areas as well as sun spots glistening from the surfaces and creating colorful refractions. There is so much to discover that you will likely find something that you previously haven’t seen each time your eye wanders around the frame.
While it isn’t a vertical companion, Piles is similar to Stuck. It includes the sap featured in Stuck, but I pulled back a little so that the entire area both above and below was captured. The same caveat applies here as well and it simply can’t be fully appreciated without viewing it at larger sizes.
I was attracted to the sap in my Flat Drop piece primarily because of its shape. It seems to be expanding horizontally and getting wider instead of longer. Which is curious because gravity should be pulling it down. I also liked the color striations and patterns inside the sap.
The run of sap in Crystal Streak caught my eye because of how clear (almost like glass) it was. I decided to frame it diagonally for several aesthetic reasons. First, it was so skinny that placing it vertically wasn’t nearly as visually interesting. Secondly, the gap created by the moss and bark added visual interest when placed beside it diagonally, but seemed to take away from it when vertical. And finally, the moss seemed to create a diagonal bed for the run to lay on with open bark areas in opposite corners (which didn’t exist when it was turned vertically). Even though it is thin, there are some nice colorful refractions and reflections.
With a bit more golden hour light on the scene in my Light Catchers composition, I moved the lens down the tree a little. Essentially, I placed the tip of the top drop on the first upper crossing line using the rule of thirds. That drop is also at the end of the sap run in Crystal Streak, and I loved how it was throwing light on the bark beside it. I also liked the random, abstract shape of the larger blob near the bottom of the frame and the fact that they are located diagonally from each other with the moss covered gap in the bark connecting them. Both areas have wonderfully colored reflections and refractions (with the top drop having rainbow like colors) as well as sunstars.
If you’ve been following my previous posts in this series, then you know that I had been composing around the areas where the limbs had been trimmed from the tree. At this point, those spots no longer had the most interesting subjects. Gathering Colors comes from sap that has dripped and run down onto the tree trunk. I loved the color striations and patterns being pulled into the two large drops. I also liked how the moss acts as a natural highlighter (i.e., it is positioned around the sap and only has a small amount of direct influence) as well as the flatter stretched and strained area immediately above the large drop with its crystalline reflections. The smaller double drip on the side was a bonus. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen (especially on the bark).
I framed the sap in Drips so that it would be on a diagonal. That aesthetic decision was made primarily because I wanted to ensure that I could include all three of the larger drops. I especially liked the pattern created in the middle drop with the refractions, reflections, and surrounding colors being pulled in. Though it’s on a bit of an angle, I also liked that the drop in the top right corner has a classic teardrop shape. Surface textures on the drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
I utilized a completely different perspective for my Flooded piece. Instead of lining up the camera’s sensor with the sap to maximize the amount of sharpness available in the shallow depth of field, I traded that in for a distinctive feel. I made the aesthetic decision to shoot up at the drops to provide more of a sense that they were running down toward the viewer. I loved the colors lit up under the sap and the reflections off from it as well as both clear and dark colored drops. With the high level of detail, surface textures can also be seen here.
The sap in my Stretched piece formed a fairly substantial drop. I loved how the greens from the background moss were picked up and combined with the blues from the sky reflecting off the surfaces as well as how warped and contorted the drop looks. I also liked the crystalline threads created as the sap flattens while being pulled and drawn across the moss and bark. The strain required to hold the drop in place is evident.
I had two aesthetic goals for my Gravity composition. My first was to focus on the drops, their crystal tails, and the syrupy remnants and spills nearby. My second was to ensure that the perspective I utilized brought in the gorgeous color layers. I love how the colorful reflections are being pulled and distorted as if they were drops of paint that had been added to the sap that continue to change as its own weight draws it downward.
I was initially attracted to the scene in Breakthrough by the colors. The wood surrounding the sap was quite colorful, but the reds and oranges under the surface of the sap were like a beacon. As I examined it more closely, the canister looking sap that had pushed its way through the wall of the original run was intriguing. I wondered if there was anything specific that caused the area to weaken or be unable to handle the pressure building up against it. I also thought about the elongated shape of the new sap path and how it was different than the other drops I had seen. Nature is wonderfully random.
I love the colors in, on, and under the sap in my Overrun piece as well as the randomly stacked drops and strands. Of course, the color layers from the fibrous wood and bark helped lift my excitement level. The reflections and refractions are simply amazing. Because of the amount of sap and the way it has piled up, nuances and intricacies were created that simply can’t be appreciated in a smaller size. This piece offers additional levels of life and complexity when viewed at increasingly larger sizes.
If you’ve been following the posts in this series, then you will recall that two limbs were trimmed. The area in and around the bigger limb is where most of the compositions were created. The sap in Icicle was near where the second, smaller limb was trimmed. I was immediately attracted to it by the shape of the drop. Aesthetically, I loved how the wood was uneven and had sharp points protruding out from the cut area because the sap also comes to a point. Additionally, I found the reds, yellows, and oranges just under the surface of the sap next to the bark quite attractive, and I liked the pattern that those colors formed.
I discovered the sap in Glassy on the side of the tree where the larger limb had been cut. I loved the design of the drops. They reminded me of blown glass. This was composed at two times life-size, and, artistically, I wanted nearly the entire frame to consist of the sap so the lens was brought closer to it. I loved the color striations within the sap that were picked up from the background and the blue reflections off the surfaces.
My Conglomerated composition is a collection of drops that have run down and piled up on top of each other. I loved the background color layers, colors under and within the sap, reflections of blues and greens off the surfaces, and sunstars. The high level of detail allows surface textures and intricate light and color streaks to be seen.
I loved the large drop and the stretched trail of sap it left as it slipped down the tree in my Strands piece. Another artistic placement fight happened with this image. I wanted to get colors from each layer in the frame, but doing that caused sap on the right side to leave the frame. I pulled the frame over to where some green was in the background and the large drop had additional space between it and the edge – again, tradeoffs were made. But, as I’ve posted previously, if you’re aware of it and that’s what you wanted to do, I think it’s fine. I love the color patterns in the large drop and the reflections off from the various surfaces.
I discovered the sap in this series of posts on a conifer in Hopeland Gardens that had recently been trimmed (likely due to some type of storm damage). I was near the reflecting pools when I noticed an area on the trunk of a tree where a limb was missing and decided to investigate it for potential abstract patterns. Upon arriving at the tree, I found sap dripping down along the edges of two severed limbs and some very cool abstract designs.
In my mind’s eye, the design of the sap in Tears made me think of crying. As if the tree’s open wounds were painful or it was mourning the loss of a photosynthesis contributor. The limbs had likely been removed just days earlier and with the wet weather we had, the interior color of the wood was gorgeous. Being a confessed color junkie, I had to get as much of those rusty oranges in the frame as possible, but I also liked how the moss and bark brought their own distinct layers. Artistically, there was a little bit of a fight going on between colors and sap (I didn’t want the color layers to be too even in the amount of frame real estate they were taking up, but keeping the big, reflection warping, main drop close to a crossing line using the rule of thirds was also an important consideration). As is normal with photography, a compromise, in some form, is often necessary. I love the colors under the surface of the sap and the blues being reflected off the various surfaces. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen and you can almost feel the stretching and pulling of the sticky sap (especially in larger sizes).
The colors in the big, main drop of my Globs piece attracted me to this tiny scene. I loved how the sunlight was bouncing around inside the sap creating wonderfully colorful refractions with their own patterns and designs. While there was essentially no moss in this particular spot, plenty of the gorgeous rusty oranges and browns from the bark created a nice backdrop. Since they add a touch of blue, I was pleased with the reflections here as well. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen here too.
I was intrigued with the shape and color of the sap in Hook Shot. This particular run of sap was completely within the interior of the missing limb. That meant that there would be no fight between color and sap for frame placement – the entire background consists of the rusty oranges. Artistically, I still placed the bulk of the sap (i.e., the larger bottom drop) at a crossing line using the rule of thirds. The little hole near the bottom of the frame that something burred into the surface was simply a bonus that provides additional visual interest. While I have no idea what caused it and it is quite curious, I loved how the sap went from a crystalline clear color to a gorgeous ruby red. Surface texture is visible here as well thanks to the high level of detail.
I discovered my Tree Fern composition on the south side of the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hopeland Gardens. This little fern and the moss behind it was living on one of the big magnolia trees. I find it fascinating that a tree can have other organisms growing out of and/or subsisting on it. It’s almost as if the tree is so old and entrenched that Mother Nature starts treating the base like it was part of the surrounding ground by letting other flora invade and take up full time residency. I liked the richness of the greens. Aesthetically, I placed the fern in the frame so that the spine would be on a diagonal and the tips of the leaves form an arch above it. The high level of detail allows dew drops, pollen, surface texture, and individual hairs to be seen.