I occasionally see another photographer while I’m working in Hopeland Gardens, but I’ve never before seen artists that were painting. On this particular morning, a woman was painting at the gazebo that overlooks the pond almost directly across from where I was creating my Iris Spike composition. And there was a man painting on an easel that was setup in the walkway at the east end of the pond. I didn’t have time to talk to either of them, I just said, “Excuse me” as I walked past the man since it felt like I was interrupting him.
I was attracted to this flower by the sharp, pointed structure in the middleground behind the main subject. I’m not sure what part of an iris it is, and I’ve never seen anything like that before (I guess this was a morning of firsts). It shares some of the same colors as the foreground flower so it’s possible that it is similar to a bud that when fully opened will reveal another iris. I placed it prominently just off center because: it is unique; I liked the serrated edge, tapered tip, and softer, pleated, roll on the opposite side; and I liked the overall shape and colors. However, I purposefully left it on the other side of the flower by keeping the focal point on the falls, standards, and crest. My artistic vision was to say that it’s an important part of the story, but the flower is still the star of the show. The extremely shallow depth of field when shooting at two times life-size ensured that the background iris blooms would dissolve into colors. The high level of detail allows pollen, dew drops, and surface textures to be seen.
I had been keeping an eye on the foxglove flowers at the Aiken County Historical Museum during previous outings there. The morning I created my Purple Spots piece, I discovered that only a single stalk was still standing upright. The other stalks were damaged and lying on the ground (perhaps they were knocked over by wind and/or rain). Many of their flowers had fallen off and were scattered around on the ground. While I was disappointed that a subject I had planned to shoot was in really bad shape, I decided to make the best of the situation. I picked up one of the discarded flowers, opened it, and placed it back on the ground while spreading it out across some bark. That allowed this two times life-size abstract to be created. Most of the frame consists of an area that is normally hidden from view since it would be up inside the flower. The high level of detail permits individual hairs, pollen, and surface texture to be seen.
Stamen Pile is similar to a horizontal composition I created at Hopeland Gardens several years ago. Both are abstract and feature magnolia stamens that have fallen away and landed on a petal inside the flower. This scene was found on the side of the Rye Patch driveway and has fewer stamen than my previous piece. I find it interesting how the stamen are essentially cast off after having performed their function but then collected by the flower (as if going to the ground as a group was better or more important than falling independently). I’m sure Mother Nature has a perfectly reasonable explanation for this behavior and perhaps some botanist could provide an answer, but, for me, I’ll simply enjoy the mystery and the random design they create. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
The flowers in my Hopeland Azalea piece were fairly late bloomers. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had a warm late winter and early spring so most of them had long since bloomed. Perhaps this specific type of azalea naturally blossom on a different schedule. Since I was a bit surprised to find such nice colors, I couldn’t hardly walk right past them without at least looking at them through the lens. I positioned the camera so that these little beauties filled the frame in layers from front to back while maintaining sharpness on the stamen and stigma. The high level of detail allows individual hairs, surface texture, and pollen to be seen.
The stokes aster in my Epicenter piece is fairly well covered in pollen. As I was most attracted to the very center of the flower where all of the action appears to be taking place, I focused on it. I liked how the white, flame-like strands are tightly grouped around that point and then become looser and more independent as they get further away from that area. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the center so that the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected it. The extremely shallow depth of field also created another artistically pleasing effect. Since it wasn’t possible to hold everything in focus within a single image, the white, pollen covered stems dissolved and took on the appearance of being ejected or sprayed outward. The high level of detail allows texture and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
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.
I loved how the anthers in my Pollen Filled piece were literally bursting at the seams. Being a color junkie, I was, of course, called to the lily by its gorgeous colors. But upon closer examination, I felt that the stamen contrasted nicely against the petals (especially at two times life-size). The extremely shallow depth of field guaranteed that the petals in the background would dissolve into simple colors. However, the high level of detail still allows surface textures and individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
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.
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.