I can’t even remember how many times I’ve looked for a composition using the palm tree in my Waggie Windmill piece. I have always felt that it held an artistically pleasing creation waiting to be uncovered, but over the years I’ve wandered the Hopeland Gardens grounds, I never found the right combination (i.e., too much wind, poor lighting, bent or broken fronds, etc.). But on this particular morning, all the pieces fell into place. The fronds were being backlit by the morning sun, the wind was calm, and the fronds had no imperfections. I loved the gorgeous green and yellow colors and the nearly perfect geometric pattern. Mother Nature even gave me a bonus – dew drops. I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to reveal the beauty I knew was there, and I quickly took advantage of it before any of the key ingredients were lost.
The colors in my Frond Lines piece were enhanced by backlighting from the golden tones of the rising sun. I don’t know what caused the fronds to exhibit such a colorful display (perhaps it is part of the normal life cycle), but it certainly caught my eye as I was walking around the tree. The spot this came from wasn’t physically that large or uniformly filled with similar patterns. Composing at two times life-size allowed me to scan across the surface until I found an artistically pleasing design. In particular, the combination of the maximum amount of colorful areas with diagonal lines that cross the frame at disparate angles. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
As soon as the magic light dissipated, I made my way off the beach. It was too windy the previous morning to successfully create compositions of the fairly nice palm fronds that were beside the beach trail. After completing my works on the beach, the wind speed was low, but I didn’t have a suitable lens with me. Because I didn’t want to carry the weight of an extra lens around or expose the inner workings of my camera (or the sensor) to the dust/dirt at the beach while exchanging lenses, I had to hightail it all the way back to the car to get one. Once inside the car with the door shut, I felt that it was safe to change the lens. After swapping the lens, I headed back to the beach trail. There was still plenty of golden hour light remaining as I worked the camera into position.
For my Sand Trap composition, I made the aesthetic decision to utilize the spine and the yellow color along it as a diagonal line. That also allowed the fronds to fan out in a nearly 360 degree circle which endows it with a sense of movement or motion. The white sand scattered in and around the folds provides natural highlights as does the subtler morning dew drops. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops and surface textures to be seen.
The golden hour light is on full display in my Gold Fronds piece. With the morning sun lighting it up, there was no way I could reject this opportunity. Here too, I made the artistic choice of utilizing the spine and yellow colors along it as a diagonal line (albeit in the opposite direction). It also has morning dew drops, and the fronds span a nearly 360 degree circle. Once again, the high level of detail allows individual dew drops to be seen.
In late April, we drove down to the Edisto Beach State Park where we had rented a cabin for a week. The next several blog posts will effectively retrace our journey through the pieces I created while in that area. Without giving too much away, I can say that it was an excellent trip (both as a vacation and for the photographic opportunities). I came back with more than 1,200 images and a whole lot of wonderful memories.
With a late check-in time, not leaving here until after lunch, and a couple of hours needed to drive there, I don’t consider a travel day to be the first “official” day. By the time we got the car unloaded, picked up the groceries we needed, and scouted a few places, there really wasn’t any time left for photography. So, day one (which is where this post picks up the story) didn’t start until the next morning.
Unfortunately, after having relied on my watch alarm to wake me up (and foolishly not setting the clock radio for a backup), I woke up too late for creating images on Botany Bay Beach as I had planned. The watch was set correctly and likely went off, but the battery was apparently too low to produce an alarm loud enough to break me out of my sound vacation sleep. The good news is that I might not have missed much because the sun was pretty well choked out by the clouds. As quickly as possible, we got over to Botany Bay and started the six and a half mile driving tour. The Botany Bay Plantation is both a Heritage Preserve and a Wildlife Management Area that consists of 4,687 acres and has two plantations (Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud).
Out first photographic stop was the Bleak Ice House. It is quite ornate, and you can easily see how folks might mistake this building for a small church. Though it’s more like a barn on the inside, the outside has some pretty fancy woodwork. In addition to being an ice house, it was also used to air dry crops, a carriage house, and general storage. The grounds were nice and well kept, and there were a couple of nature trails that we eventually made our way down.
As soon as I came around the corner and saw these huge live oak trees, I pulled off the road and got the camera equipment out. This is area six on the driving tour map and it is described as: a stand of live oaks that border Ocella Creek on your right, offering great vistas of the coastal marsh that borders the property.
I love how the Spanish moss is draped all over the limbs of the massive live oak in my Botany Bay Live Oaks piece. The larger foreground palm tree tucked under the live oak creates additional visual interest with its short, choppy lines that break up the flow of the oak. I placed it almost on the right most one third line, using the rule of thirds, and then pushed it just a little left so that the foreground live oak wasn’t cut off by the edge of the frame. I also liked the smaller palm tree just behind it and the fronds coming into the frame.
The final behemoth of the stand was also quite impressive. Some of the limbs were bigger than most of the trees in our backyard. Once again, the veil of Spanish moss hangs from the limbs and is blown by the wind in my Moss Draped piece. I loved how the branches shot out in so many directions filing the frame with their fractal lines and angles.
Gigantor is close to being a vertical companion to Moss Draped since it is the same subject. From this angle, you can get a better sense of just how large the tree trunk is. You can also see a little bit of the marsh in the background as well as how the many branches sprawl out.