I was pulled over to the magnolia tree in a neighbor’s yard where I found the blossom in my Magnolia Flame piece by all of the flowers on the ground. From a distance, it looked like there was a layer of pink surrounding the entire base of the tree. I thought I might be able to create a naturally abstract composition from the flowers that had fallen off, but as I got closer it became clear that the remnants didn’t completely cover the grass and they were in fairly poor shape. Not wanting to come home empty handed, I searched the branches for a new, better subject. This particular bloom was fresh with excellent colors that drew me right in. The shape that the petals formed immediately made me think of a flame (as if the fire from a candle was burning in a gorgeous pink tone). Even though it was shot wide open with a very shallow depth of field, details including the surface texture and pollen can be seen.
Given that it was already November, I wasn’t expecting to see much color from new blooms at the Aiken County Historical Museum (or anywhere, for that matter). So, I was pleasantly surprised when I spotted some as I was driving in. The flowers in this post were just off the driveway in front of the building. In fact, I was kneeling on the driveway, and I had the tripod on the pavement while composing them.
My artistic goal for Autumn Branch was to fill the frame with as much of the flower’s gorgeous colors as I could. First, I searched through the various groups of flowers with just my eyes, and then where I felt possible compositions existed, I looked through those clusters with the lens. While I wasn’t quite able to completely fill the entire frame, I did come close. Having a viewfinder with 100% coverage helps in situations like this because you know what you are seeing is what you will get and no cropping will be needed in post. I placed the focal point on the leftmost flower and had enough depth in the zone of sharpness to sharply capture petals and pollen on flowers that were behind it. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
The morning sun was providing side lighting for my November Highlights piece, which caused the yellows to almost glow. One of my artistic goals was identical to those I had for Autumn Bunch in that I wanted to fill the entire frame with flowers. While I searched for a collection of flowers that met that desire, I also wanted to create a prominent subject by placing its center near a crossing line, using the rule of thirds. The flower in the upper, rightmost area of the frame was elected, and I used it as my focal point to help ensure its importance would be visually identifiable within the frame. Here too, the high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
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.