I just realized, as I was writing this, that I ended the season at the exact same place I started with an identical type of flower. Patsy’s Garden in the Rye Patch Rose Garden had been recently replanted with pansies. Artistically pleasing specimens were fairly sparse, but this one stood out. I liked the colors (of course), but the tiny dew drops made the difference. The petal surfaces are nearly completely covered resulting in a sparkling effect. Aesthetically, I placed the green heart in the center of the flower just below the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. The high level of detail allows surface texture, individual dew drops, and individual pollen pieces to be seen.
Having learned that there was an automatic sprinkler system for Patsy’s Garden, I used that to my advantage the next time I visited. I knew approximately what time it finished spraying so I composed in other nearby areas before returning to find the pansies freshly watered.
I loved the colors and the abundance of water drops in my Soaked piece. I decided to take an artistic turn with this composition. Previously, in most cases, I had been concerned with the flower as the subject and ensuring that it remained that way (even to the degree of specifically placing the focal point where the main subject received the desired amount of attention). But with so many cool looking drops with great colors and nice reflections, I flipped the script. I decided that the flower would make a very colorful background for the drops. Pushing the flower into the background meant that the focus could be shifted to the drops (e.g., pulling them into the frame and being cognizant of where they might leave it as well as ensuring that, as much as possible, they be kept in the zone of sharpness). So, frame placement was all about getting the drops I wanted, and I wasn’t really concerned with utilizing the rule of thirds. I love how it turned out, and it is one of my favorites from the season.
I was attracted to the colors, the amount of drops, and the abstract feel of the tiny scene in my Pretty Wet composition. There was a bit more of a focal point fight going on here compared to the previous piece. While I wanted the large drop just left of the center in the zone of sharpness, I also wanted the lateral hairs to be sharp (primarily because their crystalline structure has a similar tone and I like their detail and ability to add visual interest). Once again, I really liked the reflections, and, in the larger print sizes, you can easily see me holding the diffuser to calm the light down. Due to how the right lateral petal had been folded down, I was able to place the bottom, left most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, nearly at the center of the green heart in the flower’s core. That aesthetic decision allowed the drops on both lateral petals to fit nicely into the frame and pulled additional color into the background from flowers planted behind the subject. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I loved the colors and the large drop on the pansy in my Color Run piece. The drop flowing down from the flower’s center was so prominent that I had to put it firmly in the zone of sharpness. Luckily, that focal point was approximately the same distance from the camera’s sensor as the green heart in the flower’s core. That also made the aesthetic choice of placing the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, across that feature an easy decision.
I was attracted to the pansy in my Guide Lines piece because the colors were just so different than anything I had previously seen. The light yellows, rusty oranges, and faded purples were soft and quiet even with the wet surface providing enhanced color saturation. For aesthetic reasons and to ensure that the water drop in the lower right corner had some space, I placed the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, very near the center of the green heart in the flower’s core. I then used the lateral hairs as my focal point. I loved how the lines in the anterior petal look like they’ve been scratched into the surface. Almost as if the scratches were deep enough to cause a bleed through of the red pigment below. Their angles and directions (all heading directly toward the center of the flower) made me wonder if they were like the lights on a runway. That is, were they like beacons that help insects stay on the route the flower needs them to go.
I liked the two large drops along the edge of the anterior petal of the pansy in my Rain Collector composition. The colors were also attractive, and I liked the reflections off the water under the center of the flower. For aesthetic reasons and to give the bottom most reflection a similar amount of space to the frame edge as what is above the center of the flower, I placed the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, very near the center of the faded red area in the core of the flower. I then ensured that the focal point was positioned so that the lateral hairs would be in the zone of sharpness along with the water drops (at least as much as possible). The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
Upon seeing the flowers in my Color Flow piece, I knew that it had a lot of potential. After processing it, this quickly became one of my favorite pansy pieces of the season and among the top that I’ve composed over the years. The stunning colors, the way their petals lovingly overlap each other (almost as if they are hugging), the artistic framing, the additional visual interest created by the drops, the reflections off the water, there is so much here that satisfies my aesthetic eye. I placed the focal point on the lower flower’s center and luckily the center of the top flower was nearly at the same distance from the camera’s sensor. They were still quite wet (in fact, it might not be a stretch to say that portions of their petals were soggy) and it appeared to me that the water was flowing off from and across them. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen here as well.
The flower in my Pastel Pansy composition either couldn’t hold much water or hardly had any on it because it was fairly dry. Therefore, the rusty oranges and faded purples aren’t getting the color saturation boost some of the previous flowers in this series of posts received. That said, I found it attractive, just in a different capacity. I also liked the symmetry (especially the V formed by the edges of the lateral petals and then flipped and echoed on the bottom of the anterior petal by the faded colors). I placed the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, along the top of the green heart in the center of the flower. I then used the lateral hairs as the focal point. Surface textures, individual pieces of pollen, and individual hairs can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
The surface drops and pastel colors in my Watered piece were undeniably attractive. This pansy is another example of one where the pastels are mixed and/or blended with more vibrant colors. In part, that is due to the color saturation enhancing ability of water and the wet surfaces. I loved the drops coming down from the center and the perfectly round outlier in the lower right corner that looks like a bubble floating on the surface. I also liked how the water can act as a magnifying glass amplifying the view of the surface texture below it. Due to the aesthetic importance of the lower drops, I placed the green heart in the center of the flower on the top one third line using the rule of thirds. I then worked out a focal point that would include the drops in the zone of sharpness while still keeping the lateral hairs sharp (a tricky combination but significant aspect because the flower is the subject while the drops act like pieces of jewelry that provide enrichment). The high level of detail allows surface textures and the outline of the open gazebo structure, that surrounds Patsy’s Garden, in the reflections off the drops to be seen.
While the color saturation in my Showered composition undoubtedly got a boost from the water, not all of the pansies in Patsy’s Garden displayed the pastel tones. Indeed, this one had colors that were quite vibrant (especially the pink/purples near the center of the flower). I made the aesthetic decision to give a little more space to the left side, therefore I placed the top, right most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, just a little off the center of the flower. I also wanted to feature the large water drop so it needed space to sit. The same focal point tug of war happened here because of the height of the drop and the distance to the completely water covered lateral hairs. The extremely shallow depth of field, while shooting at two times life-size, doesn’t give much room to find the focal sweet spot. The high level of detail permits surface textures to be seen here as well.
While the flower in my Patsy’s Pansy isn’t nearly as wet as the previous pieces, the color combination was fantastic. With spectacular colors like this, I was completely committed to creating a composition of it. I loved how the vibrant purples near the center fade off into darker tones, the random scattering of yellows on the anterior petal, and the red dots just below the center as the yellows filter their way into the darker reds. I wanted the single available drop on the left lateral petal for aesthetic reasons and because it adds visual interest, so I placed the top, right most crossing line (using the rule of thirds) slightly off center of the green heart in the flower’s core. Since the colors and the flower itself had the highest priorities, the focal point is on the lateral hairs. While that brought the drop on the left lateral hairs firmly into the zone of sharpness, the drop out on the petal is just barely in. I love the crystalline structure of the lateral hairs, and I’ve always felt that they were like tiny little light sticks that make that area of the flower brighter and more exciting. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface textures can be seen.
Rye Patch Pansy isn’t a vertical companion to Patsy’s Pansy, but it is the same flower. The colors were so incredible that I had to create a vertical version. And, I like it every bit as much as I do the horizontal. The pastel colors above the center of the flower made twisting the lens around worth it all by themselves. Placing the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, about half way down the red area above the green heart in the core ensured that the yellow coming from the center just barely makes it to the edge of the frame. That aesthetic decision amplified the highlighting effect it has in that area and helped give the center an ability to shout over the top of the gorgeous surrounding colors (which it needed because that’s some serious competition). Together, the color combinations are artistically stunning and provide another illustration of why I love composing with pansies. Once again, I used the lateral hairs as my focal point, and while the extremely shallow depth of field didn’t extend all the way to the back of the posterior petal, hairs on either side of the green heart in the center are visible. Surface textures, individual hairs, and individual pieces of pollen can also be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
After having created the pieces displayed and written about in the part one post, I was positioning the camera for a new subject when a strange hissing sound broke the concentration and focus I had trained exclusively on my next composition. Almost simultaneously I saw water start shooting out and flying everywhere. In the blink of an eye, I knew that the automatic watering system was coming to life, and I immediately grabbed the camera and leapt away from Patsy’s Garden. I still can’t believe that only a couple of drops of water landed on the camera and lens barrel (the glass itself was dry). Up until that point, I didn’t know that Patsy’s Garden had a sprinkler system. A little shook up with a heart beating a bit fast, I stood there watching water spray out at least 6 feet beyond the flowers. I hoped that perhaps the same timer that kicked it off would shut it down, but after waiting more than twenty minutes for it to stop, I decided it was best to move on and see what other subjects could be found in the area.
When I returned, the spritzing had ceased and what I found was very exciting. There is just something about water drops on flowers that takes them to another level. The wetness by itself is great because it brings out the color saturation, but for me, the shapes and reflections that shine like diamonds are equally compelling and almost always worth shooting. Part of the trick is finding one that you can get the camera’s focal plane on in a way that will maximize the depth of field. Flowers that are somewhat wet while also having water drops is a recipe that is sure to get me fired up.
I loved the colors and the drops along the edges of the petals in my Arch Enhancing piece. Similarly, the drops near the center of the flower create visual interest especially with their magnifying glass properties. I find the surrounding colors being both captured and reflected from the surfaces of the drops just as enticing. I placed the subject in the frame so that the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed just above the green heart at the flower’s center. I then used the lateral hairs as my focal point. That aesthetic decision put the water drops nicely in the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
Along with the fantastic colors, the arbitrary way the drops were scattered around the subject in my Random Jewelry piece drew me in. I’ve written in a previous post about how I consider water drops to be almost like jewelry for flowers and this subject was working it. I also liked how some of them appear to be nearly perfect spheres that seemingly float above the flower. Here too, I placed the subject in the frame so that the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed just above the green heart at the flower’s center. For aesthetic reasons, the lateral hairs were, once again, used as my focal point with the concentration being on the left side. Depending on their relative distance from the camera’s sensor (within the focal plane), most of the water drops fell into the zone of sharpness. Here too, the high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
The petal surfaces in my H 2 Oh! piece were wet and nearly covered in drops. Equally attractive were the gorgeous colors beneath all that water. After inspecting the flower through the lens at two times life-size, I made the aesthetic decision to create an abstract composition that featured the drops while utilizing the bright and bold colors as a fantastic backdrop. I placed the pansy in the frame so that the upper left crossing line, using the rule of thirds, was on the green heart in the flower’s center. I then pulled it left just a little so that the drops I wanted on the right side of the frame weren’t cut off by the edge. I used the two largest drops on both sides of the anterior petal as my focal point which caused some drops to be in and others to be beyond the zone of sharpness. As it was only providing a very colorful background, the flower received no sharpness consideration. While creating compositions, the sunstars being reflected on some of the surfaces provided additional excitement. I actually created pieces of this subject using the diffuser where no sunstars remained, but I prefer how they add visual interest and throw concentrated light that illuminates the colors where it’s focused.
My Crystalline piece is similarly abstract with even more distinct spheres and another stunning background. Once again, I made the aesthetic decision to force the flower into becoming a gorgeous backdrop for the water drops which also meant that it wasn’t afforded any sharpness concerns. The pattern that the drops form makes it appear that they are flowing out of the center of the flower and rolling down it towards the corner on the left-hand side. Almost as if the flower itself was producing them. Here too, I preferred the composition with the sunstars over the version that utilized the diffuser.
I started my photographic year at the Rye Patch. Upon opening the large, swinging, wooden door, the pansies in Patsy’s Garden immediately got my attention. I’ve written about this special area between the two sides of the Rye Patch Rose Garden in previous posts, and I’ve found excellent subjects in it over the years. I don’t know who Patsy was, but I’d bet that she would have been pleased to know that such beauty blooms in her name. The pansies that filled her memorial garden were quite colorful and some had decidedly pastel shades (a color scheme I had, up to that point, never encountered). Pansies are awesome little flowers, and I’ll say it again for the record; Pansies Rock!
I was attracted to the flower in my Illuminating Pastel composition by its color and symmetry. The muted reds and yellows had an understated elegance in that they looked really good but didn’t scream at me (sort of a refined beauty). I loved how the arcs in the petals all emanate from the center in a manner that draws your attention to its reproductive nucleus (as if they were leading lines that carry your eye right to that spot). Aesthetically, I placed the center of the flower on the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it for my focal point. That area of a pansy always feels like it is exploding with color and activity (especially near the hair that hangs down and shrouds the core). The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
The colors pulled me into the flower in my Remembrance composition. While the yellows at the top have a muted feel (especially the more orange and brown toned areas), the reds immediately below them certainly don’t. They are fiery and bold. The mixture of the two was definitely attractive and, once again, wasn’t a color combination that I had seen before. I placed the green heart on the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used the hair on the lateral petals as my focal point. I love how the reds curve up into the yellows like flames, the brilliant yellows around the hairs, and the touch of dark orange just before the darker reds on the anterior petal. Here too, the high level of detail allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I loved the deeper, dark colors in my Color Swept piece. I also liked how those rich tones really made the center of the flower stand out (it just pops against them). As if Mother Nature didn’t want any confusion as to where the center of attention and attraction should be. I’m not sure what causes it to be visible, but I’ve always loved the velvet hairs that can sometimes be seen in the darker anterior petals. Perhaps the light has to be just perfect or the hairs have to be against a dark background with just the right reflectivity angle. In the larger print versions, you can see the individual hairs that are lit up, but in the display size it adds additional areas of color like purple highlights. Individual pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen here as well thanks to the high level of detail.
The pastel colors are dominant in the petals of my Creamy composition. The oranges are rusty, the yellows are muted, and the darker reds have a heavy brown influence. Primarily to show off those quieter colors, I placed the green heart just below the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point. And, I also offset the center by pulling it a little to the right to add an additional aesthetic touch. That let the rolled edge of the background petal stretch into the upper corner on a diagonal. Once again, the high level of detail permits individual pieces of pollen and surface textures to be visible.
As an admitted color-junkie, you know that I was loving the colors of the pansy in my Inflamed piece. They are loud and bold, and the reds and yellows immediately reminded me of fire and flames. The yellows seem to be exploding out and away from the center. This intense little flower was discovered in the gazebo area known as Patsy’s Garden that sits between the two sides of the Rye Patch Rose Garden. While there is usually plenty of color to be found in the fall, I certainly didn’t expect to find a healthy and vibrant flower displaying that much. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual hairs to be seen.
The pansy in Deep Purple has a different color scheme than any of those I’ve written about previously (see Hopeland Gardens Pansies Part 1, 2, 3, & 4). It does have the same beauty inside attribute along with the pollinator’s neon sign and electric highlights, but what prompted me to create this piece was how dark the purples are. The bulb-like structures are also interesting in that half of them are clear while the others have color. The center focal point really jumps out, thanks in part to the darker colors that surround it. Those shadowy colors also give it a more moody feeling.
I saved the best for last. Intense is my favorite from the Hopeland Gardens Pansies. Upon working this composition into the viewfinder, I was almost giddy. This was one of those creations where you immediately believe it has the potential to be special. The intensity of the focal point combined with the colors feels like a spot light forcing attention on the center of the flower. The clear, bulb-like structures appear to be powered here as well and have that light emitting quality. Once again the two times life-size zoom has an undeniable impact and the high level of detail creates visual exploration impulses (especially in a size where the details can be appreciated). I love the colors, and the purple highlights feel nicely complementary to the reds. The perspective allows you to see the flower’s heart tucked into the background while helping to bring your examination back to the surface where the main attraction is.
I had named this piece The Furnace before even pushing the remote button. Upon seeing it in my viewfinder, the yellows and reds immediately looked like flames. I felt that the heart of the flower was like a furnace burning bright with flames shooting out all around it. I was instantly attracted to the fire and the gorgeous colors surrounding the center focal point. It provides another example of this little flower’s ability to focus your attention almost as if you were a pollinator. This too was created at two times life-size which tends to be impact enhancing. Additionally, the detail is incredible all the way from the clear, bulb-like structures to the sparkles in the white area near the center that make the flames look like they have white hot embers. How cool is nature? Did I mention that I love creating macros?
Radiating Yellow feels more like it is pushing out instead of pulling in. It’s like this little flower’s heart is forcing the yellow from the center out into the petals, cutting channels through and into the brown and black areas. This one also has that starburst or sunflare quality to it emanating from the center focal point.
While The Beauty Inside features the same subject as Radiating Yellow, there are many differences. This isn’t just its horizontal companion. First, the light is a bit different due to the perspective change, but the biggest difference is the amount of detail. I don’t often focus stack, but this subject provided an excellent opportunity to do so. The upper focus point was on the clear, bulb-like structures and the lower point was on the heart of the flower. Combining the two allows you to experience a level of detail that cannot be captured without this technique. It still has that radiating quality, but the ability to see the hairs and surface texture on the flower’s heart adds another dimension. I felt this piece personified some of the reasons why someone might consider taking a closer look at what’s on the inside of flowers.