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.
While exploring Hosta leaves at the Aiken County Historical Museum, I discovered several that had blooming flowers. However, none of them satisfied my aesthetic eye like the group in my Hosta Buds piece. Because I wanted to place as much as I could of those gorgeous greens in the frame, I worked the camera around until I found a perspective that let me utilize a hosta leaf for the background. Equally (if not more) important was keeping the two buds from touching each other and providing them with their own space (which increased the challenge of finding the right angle). I liked the rain drops and felt that they added a nice touch of additional visual interest. I got lucky with them as a quickly moving shower had just recently passed through the area. The high level of detail allows surface texture 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.
Both of the pieces in this post are from the same plant at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I previously posted about (the one in the front of the museum near the archway). The storm we had the night before these were composed left plenty of water drops on the surface of the leaves.
I was, once again, attracted to this plant by the gorgeous greens in the leaves. The abstract pattern of lines and water drops in my Chutes piece provided additional allure. I loved the randomness and number of the drops. I examined the plant while walking around it until I found an angle that let me accomplish my artistic vision. My first objective was to, as much as possible, fill the image with leaves from the foreground to the background by stacking and overlapping them. Secondly, I placed the leaves in the frame so that their arched edges originated below the bottom and came up and out as if they were growing/expanding (perhaps even as a response to being watered so well). The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual teeth along the leaf edges to be seen.
Cascades shares similar characteristics with Chutes. I really like the darker (almost jade) greens which helped bring out the lighter colored edges. My vision here was to fan the leaves out like a deck of cards from left to right. Individual edge teeth and surface texture can be seen here as well – thanks to the high level of detail.
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.
After a pretty good soaking rain from the previous day and night, I discovered some leaves with nice patterns of water drops on them in Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure what type of flora the leaves come from (perhaps various vines or other growth that is relatively short), but they do seem to have a surface that creates cool abstract designs when wet.
I loved the colors in my Indubitably Green piece. Nearly the entire frame consists of different shades of greens. Most of the leaves in the area where this was found were wet enough to create similar mosaics, so the trick was searching for an arrangement that was artistically pleasing. Combining that desire with finding a surface capable of providing the best sharpness with an extremely shallow depth of field, increases the difficulty level. The most desirable subjects are relatively flat and allow the camera’s sensor plane to be easily aligned with their surface. Several leaves were tried and rejected before discovering one that met my aesthetic requirements. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be visible.
The drops in Drenched were attractive because of their shapes. While some are fairly round, most are drooping and have more oblong, sloping, or swooping lines and curves that tend to give them a bit more character. Once again, I loved the colors. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be visible here as well.
My Sub Lime composition has an interesting mixture of several elements. The hard, sharp edges of the reflections combined with the soft curves of the drops provide a nice balance. I also liked the random placement of the drops and their shapes as well as how they seem to have a bit better ability to magnify the surface beneath them. Finally, the colors here were equally attractive as they were in the previous pieces. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture can be seen here too.
I found the bamboo in my Droplets piece while exploring near the edge of the woods on one of the hills above the big pond in Hopeland Gardens. The structure and colors initially drew me in, but as soon as I noticed the rain drops, I knew I had to shoot it. Because I had the macro rig on my camera, I had to step back a good distance from it. And, in order to blur the background enough, I had to drop the depth of field down. What I didn’t realize was that Mother Nature didn’t intend on giving me a whole lot of time to make adjustments or to reframe. I was lucky to get this version – I had just created it when the large drop on the left-hand side slid off. I worked a couple of different positions after my initial focus point had fallen away, but this one was, by far, my favorite – thanks primarily to that big ‘ol rain drop. The high level of captured detail allows rain drops, texture, and individual hairs to be seen.
This bamboo was found along the edge of the grass parking area near the Rose Garden at the Rye Patch. That area is essentially bounded by bamboo shoots. At some point during the previous year, some type of a brush hog (or similar device) was used to trim them down. That apparently causes them to sprout new leaves as they attempt to grow back.
I was attracted to the subject in Squiggles primarily because of the colors. I had no idea that bamboo produced such colorful leaves, and I loved the purples and blues. After seeing the water drops, the scene became even more enticing. Aesthetically, I placed the subject in the frame so that the leaves had approximately the same amount of space to the frame edges (left, right, and top). I then used the large water drop as my focal point. As I had been creating compositions of the pansies in Patsy’s Garden prior to discovering this bamboo, I had the macro rig on my camera. Due to their close proximity to the subject, I had to shoot this wide open to get the background shapes to become patches of colors without any distinguishable features. That artistic decision helped increase the abstract feel of the piece as the leaves themselves begin to fade into the background near their tips.
Colorful Curves isn’t exactly the vertical companion to Squiggles, but it is the same subject. The perspective was changed as I wanted to include part of the bamboo shoot itself (primarily because I found it interesting how the leaves sprouted out of the top). Artistically, this is close to being an abstract, and I wouldn’t put up much resistance against it be classified that way. The same shallow depth of field was used here which resulted in a similar fading of the tips.
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.