White blossoms on a small tree called to me from across the Rye Patch lawn. I’ve never seen a bloom like these in that area before, but I don’t think that it has been planted there for very long. In fact, the tree itself was only a couple of feet taller than I am. The honey bees just loved the flowers and were all over them. After more closely examining one, I loved the star shaped stigma surrounded by the bright orange and yellow anthers and filaments. For my Stigma Star composition, I utilized the stigma as my focal point and placed it on the right most line using the rule of thirds (just a little off center). I wanted to keep as many of the anthers in the frame as possible so the lens was moved slightly right to accommodate that aesthetic desire. The high level of detail allows surface textures on the stigma and anthers to be seen.
After successfully creating a macro version of one of the flowers, I wanted my Tree Flowers composition to show them blooming on the tree. I had to fight a bit more wind to get it, but luckily there was enough light to where I could keep my shutter speed under a second while maintaining a decent depth of field setting. Interestingly, it appears that only one of the flower’s petals has a fuzzy/furry edge. The high level of detail allows individual hairs (around a petal edge) and surface textures to be seen.
Having great colors is almost an automatic way to get my attention, but occasionally I’m attracted to a given blossom by how easy I believe it should be to work with. That was the case with the subject in my Snowballs piece. This is on the same little bush at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I created an abstract from in a previous post and it offered several potential subject blooms. I loved the blood red colors and the design formed as the reds go from purples to pinks as they flow away from the flower’s center. I placed the snow white stigma discs on the lower crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as my focal point.
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.
We took a picnic lunch over to the Swan Lake Iris Gardens in early July. I created and scouted in the morning, had lunch, and then continued creating after lunch with a little more scouting as well. I look forward to having an opportunity to shoot when the iris is in full bloom (perhaps this coming summer).
The lush oranges and the abstract pattern formed by the rolled up petals near the center attracted me to the flower in my Rolls piece. In my mind’s eye, the objects concentrated in the very center (and seeping around the tubes) looked like little red and orange flames. Their points and sharper edges are softened by the circles, arcs, and curves of the petals. Taken together, they create tension in the center that dissipates in waves that flow out into the frame as the petals become larger and open up after being released. The sharp points along the curved edges of the petals help strengthen that feeling.
My artistic goal for Vortex was all about capturing the pink and red structure that forms an arch above the unopened disk florets in the center of the flower. Perhaps because it has a hole in it or because the shapes are curved like they are being forcefully pulled toward the center, it brought to mind a whirling eddy. Upon closer examination, the sharp tips lining the opening reminded me of the Sarlacc pit in the desert of Tatooine in Star Wars Return of the Jedi. I placed the mouth near the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it for the focal point. Shooting at two times life-size quite close to the subject, the depth of field was very shallow.
I discovered the hibiscus in Pink Tinge at the Butterfly Garden. It was quite large which initially got my attention all by itself. I liked how the flower had pink tones that were blended in with the whites of the petals. Of course, the water drops were a bonus and all but forced me to create a composition. I placed the stigma discs very near the lower right side crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and used them as the focal point. I felt that placement gave the center reds, pistil, and petals a nice circular flow both into and around the frame.
I had a couple of artistic goals for the zinnia in my Churn piece. First, I wanted to capture the ring of disc florets. But, being directly over the top of them wasn’t desirable because I preferred maintaining approximately the same amount of space to the frame edges and including more of the petals. So, to do that, I used a perspective that allowed more petal length while simultaneously compressing the ring. As I’ve previously posted, more often than not, photography is about compromises. With the distance to the subject being so close, the depth of field was very shallow, but the angle I used forced the disc florets to deflect away from the camera’s sensor. Which meant that they would quickly exit the zone of sharpness that begins just before the focal point on the left side. Secondly, I wanted the petals and the gaps between them to feel like they were shooting out like sunstar beams from behind the disc florets.
I discovered the sap in this series of posts on a conifer in Hopeland Gardens that had recently been trimmed (likely due to some type of storm damage). I was near the reflecting pools when I noticed an area on the trunk of a tree where a limb was missing and decided to investigate it for potential abstract patterns. Upon arriving at the tree, I found sap dripping down along the edges of two severed limbs and some very cool abstract designs.
In my mind’s eye, the design of the sap in Tears made me think of crying. As if the tree’s open wounds were painful or it was mourning the loss of a photosynthesis contributor. The limbs had likely been removed just days earlier and with the wet weather we had, the interior color of the wood was gorgeous. Being a confessed color junkie, I had to get as much of those rusty oranges in the frame as possible, but I also liked how the moss and bark brought their own distinct layers. Artistically, there was a little bit of a fight going on between colors and sap (I didn’t want the color layers to be too even in the amount of frame real estate they were taking up, but keeping the big, reflection warping, main drop close to a crossing line using the rule of thirds was also an important consideration). As is normal with photography, a compromise, in some form, is often necessary. I love the colors under the surface of the sap and the blues being reflected off the various surfaces. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen and you can almost feel the stretching and pulling of the sticky sap (especially in larger sizes).
The colors in the big, main drop of my Globs piece attracted me to this tiny scene. I loved how the sunlight was bouncing around inside the sap creating wonderfully colorful refractions with their own patterns and designs. While there was essentially no moss in this particular spot, plenty of the gorgeous rusty oranges and browns from the bark created a nice backdrop. Since they add a touch of blue, I was pleased with the reflections here as well. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen here too.
I was intrigued with the shape and color of the sap in Hook Shot. This particular run of sap was completely within the interior of the missing limb. That meant that there would be no fight between color and sap for frame placement – the entire background consists of the rusty oranges. Artistically, I still placed the bulk of the sap (i.e., the larger bottom drop) at a crossing line using the rule of thirds. The little hole near the bottom of the frame that something burred into the surface was simply a bonus that provides additional visual interest. While I have no idea what caused it and it is quite curious, I loved how the sap went from a crystalline clear color to a gorgeous ruby red. Surface texture is visible here as well thanks to the high level of detail.
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.
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.
On mornings where Mother Nature provided very few clouds, leaving the beach as soon as the magic light was gone left golden hour light to be used elsewhere. After finishing up at the beach and breaking my gear down, I drove straight to The Grove Plantation. Except for the folks working there, we had the place to ourselves the entire morning.
I didn’t have to walk too far out of the parking lot before finding my first composition. The golden light highlighting the Spanish moss in my Lit Moss piece was irresistible. The mostly clear sky became an advantage at the plantation as it provided a nice blue background. The grounds were clean and very well kept, and the trees…..they were simply awesome.
Even though I was under the cover of limbs, leaves, and moss while composing Canopy View, the golden hour light filtered through. I loved how the background trees and moss were accentuated as well as the dappled light on the trunk and limbs. To get as much of the limbs and golden toned moss as possible into the composition, I placed the base of the tree trunk on the bottom and let the branches wind their way out into the frame.
My Plantation Splendor piece features the same subject found in Canopy View albeit with a bit different angle and perspective. Combined they provide a better feel for the size and beauty of the trees on the plantation grounds. For this vertical version, I placed the center of the tree trunk on the left one third line, using the rule of thirds. I loved how the branches spread up and out filling the frame as they grow ever farther away from the ground.
For my Towering composition, I captured the highlighted Spanish moss of a “tree within a tree” by focusing up into the scene. That artistic decision allowed me to fill the frame with limbs from top to bottom. While it may not be easy to tell without the ground, or something of a known size from which to get a point of reference, some of the tree limbs are larger than other whole trees will ever be. I loved how the Spanish moss formed a natural curtain across the top of the frame.
Outstretched is another piece without the ground for a frame of reference. I loved how the limbs flowed across the entire frame. Additionally, the Spanish moss below and scattered throughout the trees in the background provide a soft, colorful backdrop that simultaneously enhances and draws out the fractal designs on display.
I was right back in the line of photographers setting in their cars waiting for the gate to open at Botany Bay on the third morning. There is a little trail just to the right side of the gate that allows you to get past it. With a flash light or head lamp, you can easily walk up to the station, get the paperwork required for access to the site, take it back to your car, fill it out, and then return the necessary portion before the gate opens. On the way back to my car, I stopped at the vehicle directly in front of mine and met Clarence Holmes, a photographer out of New York who had been shooting along the coast as he trekked back to his home base. While there wasn’t as many photographers as the previous day, it still felt like we were in a competition to get to the beach first so that one could claim their preferred spot on it.
With sparse clouds and the sun not yet above the horizon, the colors in my Gold Beach piece were fantastic. I especially liked the golds on the wet sand of the shore and being reflected off the surface of the water. The oranges in the sky and the pinks closer to the skyline were equally attractive. I also liked how the silhouette of the tree breaks up the smoothness of the sky. Though the center of the tree is close to the left one third line, using the rule of thirds, I made the aesthetic decision to pull it over to the left a little to increase the space to the right and decrease it by the same amount on the left.
Shimmering Sand is close to being a horizontal companion to Gold Beach. They both feature the same tree and gorgeous colors. However, the perspective was changed. More of the thin cloud was included and the tree itself is further into the middleground. While not perfectly balanced (i.e., it is a bit heavier on the right side), I decided to place it fairly close to the center to allow the foreground stumps on both the left and right sides to be pulled into the frame. That aesthetic decision also made the tree feel more isolated and lonely. That being said, the reflections off the wet sand are the reigning super stars in this piece.
Morning Beach was also composed before sunrise, and, once again, my main aesthetic desire was to capture the colors reflecting off the wet sand. That goal drove several other artistic decisions including the tree group placement (both horizontally and vertically). While Mother Nature only gave us a couple of thin clouds to provide additional visual interest in the sky, she did nicely light them.