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.
I discovered the growth in my Ogre Skin piece on a tree at the Rye Patch. I’m not sure what it is (perhaps some type of moss), but the green colors and pocked, bumpy surface looked pretty cool at two times life-size. I immediately thought that this could be what the skin of an ogre or ugly troll looks like close up. I searched for an area that had a good amount of festering, open pits, and additional colors while keeping height differences moderated (due to the extremely shallow depth of field and my desire to attain as much sharpness as possible).
I discovered the subjects in my Screams piece on the north side of the Rye Patch in a small garden area just off the driveway. The bright white colors pulled me in. In the interest of full disclosure, I was ready to point my camera at just about anything I could find because I was testing out a replacement head. I use an Arca Swiss B1 (an original that I’ve had for more than a decade), and I just couldn’t work around the dreaded Freeze Up problem combined with a barely functional panorama locking screw any longer. Simply put, the issues were causing me to burn through too much golden hour light fiddling with the head while trying to place the frame precisely where I wanted. The bad news is that, over the course of a couple of weeks, I tested several heads and I wasn’t happy with ANY of them. The good news is that Bob Watkins over at Precision Camera Works performed his magic and fixed up my B1 just like it was new again. And, it was repaired under warranty so it didn’t cost me anything. I think it’s working better than it ever did.
Test or not, seeing these little flowers through the lens at two times life-size was enticing. In my mind’s eye, the centers of the flowers resembled wide open mouths and the pearl colored structures just under the top of the center ellipse looked like snaggleteeth. Because of the shape, the yellow and green area reminded me of a tongue. They give the appearance of permanently yelling at the top of their lungs. The high level of detail allows individual hairs to be seen (especially along the petal edges).
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 small leaves in my Baby Tree piece were on the side of the Rye Patch Rose Garden (between it and Berrie road) in the open grassy area. There was lots of this new growth scattered all through that yard. I’m not sure what it is, but the color immediately caught my eye. The brilliant reds were impossible to miss. I searched around until I found one that was tall enough to get it up and as far away from the ground as possible (which wasn’t easy because they didn’t appear to be very old and were fairly short) and that had a background with complimentary colors. Even after finding the one that best met my criteria, the diminutive size meant that it was quite close to the background. To combat that, I composed with the lens wide open to reduce the depth of field as much as possible. Even though it was created with the shallowest depth, the high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs to be seen.
I was attracted to the rose in my Swirled piece by the random and chaotic colors. I also liked the abstract pattern of the petals I found upon viewing the scene at two times life-size. It was quite wet – in fact, it had standing water in the center and the petals were literally covered in drops. All of that water and the many drops add to the overall abstract feel.
Having learned that there was an automatic sprinkler system for Patsy’s Garden, I used that to my advantage the next time I visited. I knew approximately what time it finished spraying so I composed in other nearby areas before returning to find the pansies freshly watered.
I loved the colors and the abundance of water drops in my Soaked piece. I decided to take an artistic turn with this composition. Previously, in most cases, I had been concerned with the flower as the subject and ensuring that it remained that way (even to the degree of specifically placing the focal point where the main subject received the desired amount of attention). But with so many cool looking drops with great colors and nice reflections, I flipped the script. I decided that the flower would make a very colorful background for the drops. Pushing the flower into the background meant that the focus could be shifted to the drops (e.g., pulling them into the frame and being cognizant of where they might leave it as well as ensuring that, as much as possible, they be kept in the zone of sharpness). So, frame placement was all about getting the drops I wanted, and I wasn’t really concerned with utilizing the rule of thirds. I love how it turned out, and it is one of my favorites from the season.
I was attracted to the colors, the amount of drops, and the abstract feel of the tiny scene in my Pretty Wet composition. There was a bit more of a focal point fight going on here compared to the previous piece. While I wanted the large drop just left of the center in the zone of sharpness, I also wanted the lateral hairs to be sharp (primarily because their crystalline structure has a similar tone and I like their detail and ability to add visual interest). Once again, I really liked the reflections, and, in the larger print sizes, you can easily see me holding the diffuser to calm the light down. Due to how the right lateral petal had been folded down, I was able to place the bottom, left most crossing line, using the rule of thirds, nearly at the center of the green heart in the flower’s core. That aesthetic decision allowed the drops on both lateral petals to fit nicely into the frame and pulled additional color into the background from flowers planted behind the subject. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.
I loved the colors and the large drop on the pansy in my Color Run piece. The drop flowing down from the flower’s center was so prominent that I had to put it firmly in the zone of sharpness. Luckily, that focal point was approximately the same distance from the camera’s sensor as the green heart in the flower’s core. That also made the aesthetic choice of placing the top one third line, using the rule of thirds, across that feature an easy decision.
The changes that magnolia go through during the seasons are pretty amazing. It seems that each year I find a stage of life that I haven’t seen before. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting anything like the bud in my Rat Tail piece when I happened to notice a furry growth on one of the magnolia trees at the Rye Patch. For aesthetic reasons, I placed it along the diagonal that splits the frame and gave the tip a little bit of room to sit in the corner. Even though the background was filled with busy leaves, the very shallow depth of field, when shooting at two times life-size, dissolved them down into colors. The high level of detail allows single hairs to be seen.
The rose in my Pleated piece was found in the Rye Patch Rose Garden. I was attracted to it by the combination of spattered colors (that look like they could have been flung from the tip of a paint brush) and the abstract design of the petals. The fact that it isn’t yet fully open helped carry the abstract feel through the center of the flower. The high level of detail allows tiny dew drops 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.