The main reflecting pool (i.e., the largest one with the water fountains in it) in Hopeland Gardens has flowerpots at each corner of the rectangular shaped pond. I’ve written a previous post about how the grounds keepers usually have some type of flowers or flora display in them, which is why I normally make my way to that area each time I’m on site searching for subjects. The bright flowers in Potted caught my attention as I wound around one of the flowerpots. My artistic goal was to fill the frame with as many flowers as I could while being close enough to capture the patterns in their throats and pollen swollen anthers. Additionally, I wanted the background to be as dark as it could be so that the flowers would pop against it. To find a suitable scene took a couple of passes around each of the flowerpots before returning to the one that initially caught my eye. I then had to locate a group where the flowers were closely crowded together and experiment with various framings until I found one that I desired. I focused on the stigma and anthers of the flower in the lower left-hand corner of the frame and got lucky that the distance to the camera’s sensor was nearly identical to the flower in the upper right-hand side. Which allowed both of the flower’s throat areas to fall within the zone of sharpness. The high level of detail allows texture and tiny hairs to be seen.
I don’t normally see two wandering Jew flowers growing so close to one another. In fact, this was the very first time I had ever seen a pair that had petals touching each other, and their proximity caused me to see a familiar pattern in my mind’s eye. Taken as a whole, the outside petals on both sides appear to create the shape of butterfly wings. I didn’t want the wings to feel centered in the frame, so I left a little more space above and on the right side of the petals. That caused the flowers to be placed in the frame where the left flower’s core/center is very near the lower, leftmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. With the anthers scattered around in different groups as well as being considerably above the surface of the petals (especially considering the shallow depth of field), I selected the rope-like strands that grow out of the filaments as my focal point. That aesthetic decision simultaneously forced the anthers to be out of focus and enhanced the surface of the petals including the pollen that had fallen on them. The high level of detail allows texture, dew drops, and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My artistic vision for Spread Your Wings was to capture how the honeysuckle petals reminded me of wings. In my mind’s eye, what I saw upon discovering these subjects was the familiar shape of arched bird wings as they are flying. I placed the petals so that they opened up horizontally and flowed across the frame. As it was early morning and I was on the north side of the museum building, I was working without much sunlight. Even so, I searched for an angle that gave me the darkest possible background so that the white petals would pop against it. Since there was no way to ignore the stamens or stigmas, I focused on the anther of the first (and tallest) stamen and let everything else fall where it was in the zone of sharpness. That worked out pretty good because I really like being able to see all the tiny little hairs that run up the flower and out to the petal edges. The high level of detail also allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My Peachy composition allows you to look right down the throat of this pastel colored flower. Being a color junkie, the pale pinks, oranges, and greens are not what I normally look for. But, as I’ve previously posted, that’s a good thing. Sometimes the more subdued colors are a nice change of pace (especially if they are different from what you usually see and even better if they are a departure from your typical palette). You can think of it as expanding your horizons or simply trying something new. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the anther farthest to the left on the upper, leftmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. I then focused on the larger foreground anther on the right side which created good sharpness across all of them. Individual pieces of pollen on the anthers and filaments can be seen due to the high level of detail.
Pink Paradise was composed looking right down the flower’s throat as well, but the colors are decidedly different from Peachy. They are much more bold and saturated as well as satisfying to my color junkie needs. The gorgeous pinks and reds are a nice complement to the bright yellows and greens, and one of my artistic goals was to feature them as much as possible. To accomplish that desire, I found an angle that would allow those colors to fill the top of the frame while lifting the stamen up and off of the bottom. I also wanted to hold the anthers near the yellows as their darker colors are naturally enhanced against the more vibrant tones. While I used the first foreground anther as my focal point, the extremely shallow depth of field, when shooting at two times life-size, only allowed the zone of sharpness to extend just behind it to the middleground anthers. Even so, the high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I was attracted to the flower in my Orange Curls piece because it was so different from what a normal daylily looks like. It was immediately apparent that any composition using this subject would produce an abstract. Since it was the only one in the area, and I didn’t have anything else to compare it to, I can’t say if this particular type of flower usually grows in this manner. Perhaps it was lacking something or deformed in some way. Whatever the case, I loved all the loopy, wavy lines Mother Nature endowed it with. The stigma has character as well and is bent and curled like it had been abused. Though the anthers aren’t as easy to see because they have the same color as the petals, I did place one at the lower, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. I then used that anther as my focal point. The high level of detail allows tiny dew drops to be seen.
After having seen the gorgeous oranges and reds in my Marmalade piece from several feet away, I could hardly wait to get the tripod moved and setup in front of this subject. My main objective was providing enough space above the anthers for those attractive colors to be on full display. Strangely enough, while I wasn’t concerned with the rule of thirds and didn’t even initially check the grid lines during framing, I actually put the anther farthest to the left on the lower, leftmost crossing line. Which made me wonder if I’m starting to intrinsically see and compose that way. I also liked the subtle blues in the anthers and their complementary blacks against the yellows. Surface textures and individual pieces of pollen can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
The background of the daylily in Exquisite Fat was being backlit by the morning sun. Those golden tones lighting up the petals created an irresistible beacon that drew my eyes and attention right to it. I loved how the chicken fat along the petal edges, with their gorgeous colors, formed a V. I placed the anthers where they were lifted up off the bottom while keeping additional space above them because one of my primary artistic desires was getting as much as I could of the backlit petals in the frame. To ensure that I was able to sharply capture the anthers, focus stacking was used. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
My artistic vision for Fat Liner was to, once again, utilize the chicken fat as much as I could. I decided to place it along the edges of the frame so that it almost formed a border. I spent time adjusting angles and the distance from the lens to the subject until I felt I had maximized what the flower was able to give me while also considering the relative positions of the stamen. Just like everything else in photography, ultimately, it was about making compromises (i.e., giving up one thing to get something else). While not really caring where the anthers were with regard to the grid lines, using the rule of thirds, I got lucky with their placement. The bottom one third line cuts right through the main group of anthers, and the outlier touches the rightmost one third line. I also feel that I was fortunate in that the arcs created by the filaments share similarities with those in the petals.
Most of my rose works are from the Edisto Memorial Gardens in Orangeburg, and I’ve written about the gardens and adjacent areas in previous posts. It’s a great resource to have relatively close by. Too much time had passed since I last visited, so I decided a road trip was in order. Unfortunately, I didn’t find a single subject worthy of closer inspection in any section of the roses I initially examined. I think the early Spring with the warm weather and then the hard freeze caused a lot of subtle problems with our flora. After checking out all the gardens on the east side, I decided to head toward the ponds. That was a good decision because I walked right up on a part of the gardens that didn’t exist the last time I had been there. A whole new section of daylilies had been planted and they were looking really good.
The colors in my Garden Gem piece immediately drew me in. The pastels combined with the oranges, yellows, and greens were all very attractive. The most prominent outside anthers were placed on the upper crossing lines, using the rule of thirds, so that the stamen came up into the foreground from the throat of the flower. I focused on the rightmost foreground anther and let everything else fall where it was in the zone of sharpness. The high level of captured detail allows texture and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I simply could not deny the bright yellows of the daylily in Outreach, and they, by themselves, forced me to create it. Artistically, the sweeping arcs of the filaments and being able to see them from their origination point in the flower’s throat coming out into the foreground of the frame was my highest priority. And while I didn’t care that much where the anthers were in relation to any of the grid lines, using the rule of thirds, the center of the group is very near the rightmost lower crossing line. In fact, I used that particular anther as my focal point which tends to subtly increase the importance of its placement. Sometimes we just get lucky and other aesthetic concerns drive a composition into a familiar layout without consciously trying. Surface textures on the anthers can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
Thanks to the time I spent with Bob Yonce and the wonderful daylilies he grows on his farm, I was aware of chicken fat. Upon finding the flower in my Chiffon piece, I immediately wanted to feature that aspect of it by prominently placing it along the edges of the frame. Because the anthers were in such a nice tight grouping, I placed them so that the bottom was very near the lower, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. Those two artistic decisions also allowed the filaments to arch up and out of the flower’s throat and the ribs in the main petal to arc up and out as it stretches upward. Here too, the high level of detail allows surface textures and pollen to be seen.
The gorgeous purple colors in Excitingly Grape grabbed my attention and held it. I also liked how the inner colors form an ellipse as they transition from a light purple, to white, then yellow, and finally green. The anthers were in a group here as well so I placed the anther farthest to the right on the upper, rightmost crossing line, using the rule of thirds. That particular angle caused the arched rib lines behind the anthers, that emanate in the background, to come up and out from the flower’s throat into the middleground. And the flow of the stamen and stigma arcs echo those lines. The diagonal lines in the foreground pleats act as short leading lines that lead to the focal point. To ensure that I had good sharpness on that area as well as the other anthers, I used focus stacking. That aesthetic decision also allowed me to keep the stigma in the zone of sharpness. Surface textures and tiny dew drops along the anther edges are both visible due to the high level of captured detail. This was one of my favorites from the outing and would have made the trip worthwhile all by itself.
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.
Though Fall was only a week old, the flowers near the subject in my Fall Blooms piece were burned, wilted, dying, and/or just generally nasty. In fact, I initially walked right past them on my way to the rear of the Aiken County Historical Museum, and it wasn’t until I made my way back toward the car that I spotted this subject. I was surprised by how well this late bloomer was holding up and was impressed with its size (it was a bit larger than its neighbors). I loved the colors. Normally I see solid petal colors so having pink with white was unusual. The interior blooms, with their brilliant oranges and yellows, were also quite attractive. In fact, I used their five, furry, pollen coated arms as my focal point. That aesthetic choice gave just enough sharpness to create the cool looking abstract pattern in the very center of the flower. The high level of detail allows individual hairs and individual pollen pieces to be seen.
I loved how the light was filtering through the layers and creating an orange tone in my Smoked piece. I discovered these mushrooms growing on a tree in Hopeland Gardens near the spot where all the green tree frogs were found earlier in the year. There were quite a few of them sprouting at various heights and in different areas. I walked around the tree checking compositions and framings until I was sure that I wanted to create with this group.
It seemed to have quite a lot of visible particles and/or dirt on the surfaces so I blew on it to try to remove some of the debris (as I’ve previously posted, I normally like to clean subjects in the field). This thing had a ton of bugs inside it and they started pouring out of every nook and cranny. Ants, maggot looking worms, flies, and who knows what else. I was quite surprised by how many bugs steadily streamed past me, but it must have something that they want or need. Or maybe they just liked it because it was stinky and smelled like it was rotten. It took a couple of times to expel the fragments and each time progressively fewer bugs emerged.
I wasn’t able to capture the coolest thing that happened. While I was between compositions, it started to emit something that looked like smoke. Likely some type of pollen, the substance was thick enough to where the inside of the mushroom appeared to be on fire.
Frilly was composed using mushrooms from the same group as Smoked. I loved the lacy edges and soft flaps under their surfaces. My artistic goal was to capture the layers of ornate rolls and pleated edges as they wind their way across the frame.
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.