White blossoms on a small tree called to me from across the Rye Patch lawn. I’ve never seen a bloom like these in that area before, but I don’t think that it has been planted there for very long. In fact, the tree itself was only a couple of feet taller than I am. The honey bees just loved the flowers and were all over them. After more closely examining one, I loved the star shaped stigma surrounded by the bright orange and yellow anthers and filaments. For my Stigma Star composition, I utilized the stigma as my focal point and placed it on the right most line using the rule of thirds (just a little off center). I wanted to keep as many of the anthers in the frame as possible so the lens was moved slightly right to accommodate that aesthetic desire. The high level of detail allows surface textures on the stigma and anthers to be seen.
After successfully creating a macro version of one of the flowers, I wanted my Tree Flowers composition to show them blooming on the tree. I had to fight a bit more wind to get it, but luckily there was enough light to where I could keep my shutter speed under a second while maintaining a decent depth of field setting. Interestingly, it appears that only one of the flower’s petals has a fuzzy/furry edge. The high level of detail allows individual hairs (around a petal edge) and surface textures to be seen.
After having worked the Chocolate Garden, I returned to the Butterfly Garden to give it a better going over. I had basically picked the low hanging fruit in the morning, but after lunch, I didn’t feel as pressed for time. That allowed me to go a little slower, take additional time to examine more perspectives, and create multiple frames of any given subject. Luckily the shooting conditions were quite favorable for midday (i.e., I had a diffused sky with periods of rain and not too much wind). I loved the size and gorgeous red colors of the buds in my Butterfly Garden Buds composition. I maneuvered around them until I could find an angle that 1) allowed me to keep the buds separated, and 2) have them originate from the top right corner and come down and out into the frame. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture and a rain drop can be seen.
Of the images I created featuring the flower in my Diagonal piece, I liked this one the best. I had a couple of initial objectives for this composition. First, I concentrated on the anthers and used them as my focal point. Secondly, I wanted a petal to run diagonally across and down the frame from left to right with the sharp tip ending near the lower corner. While I had resolved those two intentions, I felt that it could be improved with an additional change. I believed that it would be artistically stronger to force the majority of the filaments to originate within the frame (that is, to make it possible to see where they were coming from vice entering the frame from outside of it). So, I found a perspective that brought them back while maintaining the aforementioned goals.
I concentrated on the structures above the unopened disc florets in my Slit composition. In my mind’s eye, the center area reminded me of an eyeball, and the opening it has brought to mind a pupil. It felt almost as if Mother Nature had created a flower that could look back at its admirers. I positioned the lens to where the diameter of the eye used just about the entire height of the frame while the first one third line (using the rule of thirds) runs right through the pupil nearly splitting it in half. That also allowed the disc florets to create a fuzzy ring around the eye and exposed some petals.
I was attracted to the flower in Enticed by how unique the center was. While the flower had a similar color scheme (the very cool pinks/purples that change to orange), the middle was unlike any of the other flowers. For example, there are no disc florets or the cool looking flame like structures. That made me wonder if it was a different flower type completely (planted within the area along the bathrooms at the Butterfly Garden because it had comparable colors) or perhaps some genetically altered version.
Confectionery is close to being a vertical companion to Enticed. It is the same flower, but the perspective was changed. I loved how the petals were layered so I pulled back from the flower a little to bring a bit more of them into the frame. The colors were so sweet that they made me think of candy.
The flower in my Attractive composition, once again, has a similar color scheme with another distinctive center. I loved how the petals were layered and overlap each other here as well (that makes it easy to fill the frame with very nice colors). I also liked the furry looking edges of the petals in the very center and the stubble at the bottom of the petals next to them. The high level of detail allows individual hairs to be seen.
I only had a couple of minutes to check things out at the Chocolate Garden before heading back to the car for lunch. I looked at a couple of compositions, but didn’t feel that I had enough time to create anything. So, after our picnic, the Chocolate Garden was the first place I headed to. Due to conditions and lighting changes, none of the ideas I had before lunch looked good upon my return. However, I did discover the flower in my Chocolate Garden Hibiscus piece. The flower itself was quite large, but it was really low and close to the ground. That made positioning the tripod fairly challenging, and I had to work at it for a few minutes before I was able to manipulate the legs into a suitable arrangement. Aesthetically, I wanted the pistil to come down and away from the center of the flower vertically. I placed the two lower stigma discs on the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used that area as my focal point. That allowed the crossing line to fall nearly at the center of the stigma and lifted the pistil up into the corner of the frame. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen (on the stigma discs) and individual hairs (on the stigma stems) to be seen.
We took a picnic lunch over to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens in early July. I created and scouted in the morning, had lunch, and then continued creating after lunch with a little more scouting as well. I look forward to having an opportunity to shoot when the iris is in full bloom (perhaps this coming summer).
The lush oranges and the abstract pattern formed by the rolled up petals near the center attracted me to the flower in my Rolls piece. In my mind’s eye, the objects concentrated in the very center (and seeping around the tubes) looked like little red and orange flames. Their points and sharper edges are softened by the circles, arcs, and curves of the petals. Taken together, they create tension in the center that dissipates in waves that flow out into the frame as the petals become larger and open up after being released. The sharp points along the curved edges of the petals help strengthen that feeling.
My artistic goal for Vortex was all about capturing the pink and red structure that forms an arch above the unopened disk florets in the center of the flower. Perhaps because it has a hole in it or because the shapes are curved like they are being forcefully pulled toward the center, it brought to mind a whirling eddy. Upon closer examination, the sharp tips lining the opening reminded me of the Sarlacc pit in the desert of Tatooine in Star Wars Return of the Jedi. I placed the mouth near the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it for the focal point. Shooting at two times life-size quite close to the subject, the depth of field was very shallow.
I discovered the hibiscus in Pink Tinge at the Butterfly Garden. It was quite large which initially got my attention all by itself. I liked how the flower had pink tones that were blended in with the whites of the petals. Of course, the water drops were a bonus and all but forced me to create a composition. I placed the stigma discs very near the lower right side crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as the focal point. I felt that placement gave the center reds, pistil, and petals a nice circular flow both into and around the frame.
I had a couple of artistic goals for the zinnia in my Churn piece. First, I wanted to capture the ring of disc florets. But, being directly over the top of them wasn’t desirable because I preferred maintaining approximately the same amount of space to the frame edges and including more of the petals. So, to do that, I used a perspective that allowed more petal length while simultaneously compressing the ring. As I’ve previously posted, more often than not, photography is about compromises. With the distance to the subject being so close, the depth of field was very shallow, but the angle I used forced the disc florets to deflect away from the camera’s sensor. Which meant that they would quickly exit the zone of sharpness that begins just before the focal point on the left side. Secondly, I wanted the petals and the gaps between them to feel like they were shooting out like sunstar beams from behind the disc florets.
The periwinkle in Spinner was the first subject to beckon me over after putting my gear together in the Aiken County Historical Museum’s parking lot. The petals remind me of the blades on a windmill. In fact, they feel like they could have been in motion. Even the center white area with it’s frayed, jagged, and uneven edges that fade as they flow further out into the petals, provides a sense of movement. I loved the little yellow ring at the very center and the petal folds that break up the otherwise uniform gaps and provide additional visual interest. The high level of detail allows surface texture and furry looking little hairs to be seen.
The compositions below are from the same plant group in the back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I previously posted about. The flowers took a pretty bad beating from a storm that came through the night before I captured these. Only a single flower was in good enough shape to be photographed.
I loved the random, abstract design on the canna lily in my Dropped In piece. The oranges and yellows were also quite attractive. But my favorite part has to be the large water drops. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the flower in the frame using a perspective that would pull in as much of the patterns on the petal surfaces as possible. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual drops to be seen.
Even though it’s obviously the same subject, Flow isn’t exactly a horizontal companion to Dropped In. After I rotated the lens, I also had to change the perspective because for artistic motives I, once again, wanted to incorporate as much of the yellows, oranges, and reds in the abstract patterns into the frame. I liked how the splashes of oranges and reds seem to have been expelled out of the center of the flower and create the impression that some are dripping back down into it. I also felt that the large water drops were equally attractive from this view. Surface texture and individual water drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
There is a line of magnolia trees on the other side of the walkway next to the overflow parking lot in Hopeland Gardens. It is interesting to me that magnolia trees seem to be on their own blooming schedules. For example, the trees in my neighborhood don’t flower at the same time as the trees in the Rye Patch. Even the trees in Hopeland Gardens don’t normally bloom together. Anyway, I was called over to the trees near the overflow parking area by their bright white flowers. While by no means a perfect specimen, the flower in my Petal Hat piece was quirky and quite appealing. It is currently in the process of shedding its stamen and they are piling up at the bottom of the frame thereby adding some additional colors. I’ve always felt that the carpels resemble octopus’ tentacles, and I liked how they were holding dew drops. But, I was forced to create a composition upon seeing the little petal acting like a hat.
I discovered the subjects in my Screams piece on the north side of the Rye Patch in a small garden area just off the driveway. The bright white colors pulled me in. In the interest of full disclosure, I was ready to point my camera at just about anything I could find because I was testing out a replacement head. I use an Arca Swiss B1 (an original that I’ve had for more than a decade), and I just couldn’t work around the dreaded Freeze Up problem combined with a barely functional panorama locking screw any longer. Simply put, the issues were causing me to burn through too much golden hour light fiddling with the head while trying to place the frame precisely where I wanted. The bad news is that, over the course of a couple of weeks, I tested several heads and I wasn’t happy with ANY of them. The good news is that Bob Watkins over at Precision Camera Works performed his magic and fixed up my B1 just like it was new again. And, it was repaired under warranty so it didn’t cost me anything. I think it’s working better than it ever did.
Test or not, seeing these little flowers through the lens at two times life-size was enticing. In my mind’s eye, the centers of the flowers resembled wide open mouths and the pearl colored structures just under the top of the center ellipse looked like snaggleteeth. Because of the shape, the yellow and green area reminded me of a tongue. They give the appearance of permanently yelling at the top of their lungs. The high level of detail allows individual hairs to be seen (especially along the petal edges).
I don’t see much wildlife at the museum (aside from the birds and an occasional squirrel) presumably because the grounds are surrounded by a fairly substantial wall. So I was pretty surprised when, after having only taken about three steps off the walkway going down the hill to find a suitable dandelion subject, I scared two fawns out from where they were hunkered down. They certainly weren’t very old, still had their spots, and probably only weighed around 35 pounds. They ran in opposite directions, one going left and the other heading right toward South Boundary. The one that went right, ran up ahead of me but not down towards the cabin. Most likely because someone with a trailer was in the parking area on the other side of the wall opening doors and making quite a bit of noise. I thought that if I could find it, I might be able to create a rather unique composition so I walked towards the area where I lost track of it. But, before I could even get my camera into position, it came up out of where it was, ran down the walkway, and left the museum through the open gate. It then crossed Newberry and went into the trees on the other side of the road. Later as I was searching for subjects near the corner of the grounds where New Lane and Newberry Street meet, the other one (that had went left) came out of hiding and bolted right past me. Poor little things. I’ll bet their mother won’t use the museum grounds as a hiding place again after I scared the hell out of them.
I discovered the dandelion in my abstract Layers piece along the hill in back of the Aiken County Historical Museum following my initial interaction with the fawns. I liked how the orange cones and yellow petals are arranged on top of each other. I also liked the relatively busy look and the sunstar feel with rays and light shooting out in all directions from the center. Due to the extremely shallow depth of field, I preferred the aesthetics of a lower focal point where the subject becomes sharper as your eye descends down into it.
I discovered the unique looking lily in my Translucent piece along the front edge of the big garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I’ve never seen anything quite like this before, and it was on the same plant as other lilies that didn’t have this unusual property. I don’t know if it was sick, lacking something, or just very special, but it had almost translucent petals. These lilies weren’t very big and were low to the ground (which made getting into a good position from which to create a composition a bit challenging). I liked the curves of the filaments and the designs created by what appears to be veins in the petals. The anthers give the impression of being electrically charged and sending out bolts of energy like some type of Tesla machine.