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.
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.
I loved the soft rolls and arcs in my Sugar piece. Of course, I was attracted by the lovely colors (they have a candy-like sweetness), but the abstract design I discovered at two times life-size was more than enough to ensure that this subject would be captured. I also liked the pink flames randomly scattered among the tubes in the very center of the flower. The high level of detail allows individual hairs and pieces of pollen to be seen.
The flower in Party Colors wasn’t exactly in the Butterfly Garden. There was a small section along the bathrooms that are near the Butterfly Garden that was full of these beauties, and their pinks, purples, reds, and yellows called me over to them. In fact, there were no other flowers that colorful in any of the other gardens. I loved the color scheme and how the pinks/purples change to reds/oranges. I also loved the nice little water drop at the tip of the disc floret. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs to be seen.
The bright red colors called me over to the canna lily in my Points composition from across the south lawn at the Aiken County Historical Museum. While it has an almost abstract feel, I liked the concentration of buds with the single flower. When you are shooting real close to a given subject, the depth of field can be extremely shallow, but as you increase the distance between your lens and the subject, the zone of sharpness expands. Composing while using a higher F-stop can result in background objects being visible. In severe cases, the background can cause an image to become cluttered and confuse the viewer since they may not understand what the subject is. To please my aesthetic eye, I do my best to avoid busy backgrounds, and this was one case where an adjustment was required. This lily was fairly close to leaves, vines, and other flora in the background. To dissolve those things down into colors, I dialed back the F-stop to a smaller number. That is yet another example of the many artistic tradeoffs I’ve posted about previously. You have to consciously decide how much subject sharpness you want to give away to get the background you need. Once again, if you find yourself in this situation, your Depth Of Field Preview while using your camera’s Live View capability is quite valuable because you can use it to judge when you’ve produced the desired amount of blur. Of course, there are processing tricks you can use to achieve similar results, but I believe in getting it right in the camera. To me, the final result is always better, and you’ll spend significantly less time processing.
I liked the mixture of hard points and softer round edges in my Skinny piece. The blend of the buds and petals create a nice contrast. This is the same subject featured in Points composed from a completely different perspective. While keeping the majority of the buds, I wanted to bring more attention to the flower. For the same reasons outlined above, I had to trade some subject sharpness for background blur here as well.
I liked how the petals far outnumbered the buds in my Red Canna composition. It’s interesting that this subject was quite close to the previous subject yet it had significantly more blooms. Though the combination of buds to flowers is nearly opposite of the earlier pieces, I felt that it had a nice mixture, and I liked how they filled out the frame. Once again, the proximity to background objects was a concern and subject sharpness had to be reduced by using a smaller F-stop. The water drops were from a quickly moving shower that started spitting just before I pressed the shutter a couple more times. I grabbed my gear and moved everything under the roof area on the south side of the museum until the rain stopped. The high level of detail allows pieces of pollen and rain drops to be seen.
Before I was run off by the thought of my equipment getting drenched, I had considered whether or not the prior lily subject could be shot at a higher F-stop. Since the rain had ended, I returned to the subject, set the area up a bit, and composed Lily Tower. Though I had to arrange some vines and use a plamp to hold the scene together, I was able to find a perspective and position the tripod so that there was a whole lot of space between the subject and the background (like 40 or 50 feet which was way outside the sharpness zone). I liked the background because it was a bit darker against the bright reds (thanks to an angle that had the lens pointed into the leaves of a background tree). The increased depth of field and high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen and surface textures to be seen.
I liked the design in the center of the daisy in my Bloom Ring piece. The disc florets that aren’t yet blooming produce a nice abstract pattern all by themselves. I made the aesthetic decision to place the flower so that the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed it directly at the midpoint. I also found it interesting that the disc florets that have bloomed form a ring (perhaps because they started from the outside and are working their way toward the very center). I came across this flower in one of the smaller, side gardens at the Aiken County Historical Museum. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
I discovered my Tree Fern composition on the south side of the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum in Hopeland Gardens. This little fern and the moss behind it was living on one of the big magnolia trees. I find it fascinating that a tree can have other organisms growing out of and/or subsisting on it. It’s almost as if the tree is so old and entrenched that Mother Nature starts treating the base like it was part of the surrounding ground by letting other flora invade and take up full time residency. I liked the richness of the greens. Aesthetically, I placed the fern in the frame so that the spine would be on a diagonal and the tips of the leaves form an arch above it. The high level of detail allows dew drops, pollen, surface texture, and individual hairs to be seen.
There were plenty of coneflowers in the back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum where I composed Half Cone, but finding one that appealed to me artistically wasn’t easy. A bit of frame placement experimentation helped lead to the discovery of a perspective that I hadn’t previously considered. I felt that reducing it down into the best colors and shapes (by eliminating portions of the flower), created an interesting abstract. I liked how the sharp, pointed areas are calmed by the smooth, soft arcs which produces a nice balance. I was also very aware of what was being removed from (and what was permitted to remain in) the frame. To assist with the aesthetic equilibrium, I kept the left and right side spikes balanced as much as possible. The high level of detail allows individual pieces of pollen to be seen.
All the lilies in this post were found in various spots of the front lawn area at the Aiken County Historical Museum. I don’t normally spend much time searching for subjects in that location because the gardens usually offer more potential. However, their bright colors were like beacons that guided me right to the blooms.
The impression that the stamen in my Fire Escape piece created was that they were scampering away from intense heat or quickly trying to avoid being burned. The yellows, oranges, and reds in the background reminded me of flames. Even the anthers appear to be looking at and/or encouraging each other to ensure that they are all of the same mindset with regard to fleeing. The high level of detail allows pollen and surface textures to be seen.
Sizzling has a similar fire/flames related theme with the stamen shooting up and out of the core where the most extreme heat exists. In my mind’s eye, the two center stamen provide a sense of something frequently seen in nature; a mother followed very close by its baby (to the point of physically touching). I also really like the yellow area to the right of the rightmost filament as it appears to be a flickering flame which strengthens the sensation of burning. The high level of detail allows surface textures and pollen to be seen here too.
The stamen in Tines reminded me of a pitch fork. I’ve posted before about how much I like lilies, and I’ve spent a lot of time shooting them. I can say from experience that it is uncommon to find stamen by themselves with no apparent interference from the stigma. The stigma is normally close to the stamen (or intrudes into the scene by being an out of focus object in front of them) and can be problematic when you want to create a composition of the stamen or anthers in isolation. So, I was pleased to find this set of stamen with a hidden stigma. I also liked how the two outside anthers curve outward (the leftmost one to the left and the rightmost one to the right).
I found the nicely blooming lantana in my Spring Ornament piece while working my way back to the big garden in the rear corner of the Aiken County Historical Museum. When these showy little color balls really start to bloom, they can be so prolific that keeping them separated from each other becomes challenging. However, in this case, my artistic vision was to utilize the pinks, purples, reds, yellows, and oranges by pulling as much of them as possible into the frame. Shooting at two times life-size with a fairly shallow depth of field made it easier to dissolve the background flower into colors, but another important consideration remained. Because of the similarities between the foreground blossom and the background bokeh, I wanted to keep matching colors from intersecting to avoid edge confusion. By altering the viewing angle while simultaneously holding my main subject where I wanted it in the frame, I was able to arrange them so that, as much as possible, similar colors didn’t touch each other. The way it floats and the colorful, nearly spherical shape reminded me of a decoration. The high level of detail allows pollen and individual hairs to be seen.