A large swath of color caught my eye while out exploring the area during a long weekend stay in a cabin at Black Rock Mountain State Park in Mountain City, GA. Upon closer inspection, I was pleasantly surprised to find blooming mountain laurel especially in an unfamiliar color. I have seen both white and pink here in South Carolina and in the mountains of North Carolina, but the color in my Red Mountain Laurel piece was a new variety of the much beloved little flowers. Because they bloom in clumps that are roughly spherical (i.e., there can be several inches of distance between a flower in front and one on the side) and their cups can be relatively deep when working with a very shallow depth of field, a frame filing composition with sharp focus throughout can be challenging to find. I was able to resolve that issue by concentrating on a smaller group within a bloom that had a fairly full complement of flowers and buds. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, SC is truly a photographic treasure chest. This spot has been and continues to be my go-to location for composing macro pieces. The Rye Patch is a ten acre estate immediately adjacent to Hopeland Gardens with its own rose garden. I normally search for suitable subjects by exploring both areas, especially since you can easily walk between the two. During certain peak blooming times in the spring, the azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and other flowering plants and trees really spruce things up.
The bricks in my Hopeland Gardens Path piece lead to a small wooden bridge that spans a spillway from a water fountain and caries you along the blooms beside them. On the other side of the brick wall in the background is the normally busy Whiskey road. Hopeland Gardens is like a sanctuary right in the heart of the city.
The remaining pieces below are all straight ahead, frame-filing takes that showcase both the abundant blooms and gorgeous, old trees within the combined boundaries. It is easy to see why so many weddings (including my brother’s many years ago), receptions, and other events are held here and why wedding and engagement photographers choose this location as their outdoor backdrop. The Spring Arrives and Hopeland Spring Dress pieces were both composed within Hopeland Gardens while the Rye Patch Blooms piece was created just outside the Rye Patch along the path that runs from the main building to the rose garden.