My Stormy piece would not have been possible without the use of the Frankenstein lens I wrote about in a previous post. It allowed me to get physically closer to the coneflower and really zoom into the center of the flower (e.g., this is close to three times life-size magnification). It also required an enormous amount of shutter time (10 seconds) due to light loss (i.e., the extender, time of day, and cloud cover) and a higher F-stop. I loved the naturally abstract design and the colors. Individual pieces of pollen and tiny hairs can be seen.
The magnification level used for my Indian Blanket piece was more than two times life-size. And, once again, I could not have composed this without the Frankenstein lens. I liked the randomness of the hairs in this naturally abstract scene (almost like someone scribbled them in). For aesthetic purposes, I framed it so that some additional reds were added to the corners. Tiny dew drops and individual hairs are visible as well.
I loved how the tip of the leaf in my Flame Spike piece almost glowed as if it was being lit from the inside. This is the very tip of one of the leaves from the same plant where I found a fallen berry that been stabbed earlier during the year. Of course, this is nearly at three times life-size magnification and wouldn’t have been possible without the Frankenstein lens. To amplify the brightness of the subject, I used an angle that looked into an area of the background that was in heavy shadow. I loved the colors and how Mother Nature is basically screaming at anyone looking at it to keep their distance. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen along the edges of the leaf.
My Daylily Anthers piece was composed at two times life-size magnification. In addition to the artistic satisfaction factor, I created it to establish what could be called a baseline. That is, what my normal rig is capable of producing. I recently purchased a Canon 500D Close-up Lens that can be added to my current rig to get close to three times life-size magnification. Being at that level crosses over into an area known as extreme macro. It creates a bit of a Frankenstein lens, but it was less expensive than going to something like an MP-E 65, and my hope was that I could sort of get my feet wet in extreme macro while using something that I was fairly comfortable with. More from my Frankenstein lens to come…
Stamen Pair was composed with my Frankenstein lens and has a magnification that is more than two times life-size. With more magnification, the depth of field, which was already razor thin, is reduced even further. That makes for a wonderful background. Though the zone of sharpness is really shallow, individual pieces of pollen can still be seen.
My Rising Star piece was also composed with the Frankenstein lens. In my mind’s eye, I immediately saw a star shape on the flower that appeared to be ascending. I placed the center of the periwinkle where the top one third line (using the rule of thirds) cuts through it so that the star itself would be higher in the frame. Tiny drops of water and individual hairs can be seen.
The tree sap in my Nugget piece was essentially in the parking lot at Hopeland Gardens. In fact, I noticed it on a small tree just behind my vehicle as I was putting my gear together. So, it definitely got bonus points for proximity. However, it was exceedingly difficult from a lighting perspective, and one of the most difficult compositions I’ve faced in a long time. I used both a deflector (to calm down the highlights on the bumpy, modeled surface) and a reflector (to add golden light back on to the subject). From an artistic perspective, I felt that all of the reflections and refractions helped create a very nice abstract, and I loved the gorgeous oranges, yellows, and reds.
I found the naturally abstract scene in my Blues On Blues piece while exploring an aster at nearly two times life size magnification just outside the dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. Individual pieces of pollen can be seen scattered around all through the image.
My artistic vision for Wet Fox was to, as much as possible, fill the frame with the foxglove flowers. That required several different compositions to try to find the most aesthetically pleasing result while simultaneously eliminating the gaps around the flowers. Often that can be accomplished by simply adjusting the angle and/or distance from the subject. You can think of it as “working” your subject. While the camera’s view screen is absolutely necessary in the field, the best version is usually selected during comparisons using a large monitor. I love the details in the large drop and the tiny hairs that are visible around the petal edges.
On a warm, spring afternoon while walking along the Beaver Run Trail in Hickory Knob State Park, I decided to break off the path and head through the woods towards the Savannah River. After climbing down a rather steep bank, I discovered some interesting naturally abstract patterns in the clay about four feet from the water’s edge. I searched the shoreline for an aesthetically pleasing area (i.e., one without any roots, rocks, sticks, etc.) that also offered a nicely random mixture of patterns with the rusty reds, yellows, and cream colors. My artistic vision for Hickory Knob Shore was to create a vertical abstract that featured the aforementioned aspects in addition to the modelling and cracks.
In the big back garden at the museum, I discovered a type of iris that I had never seen before. I examined all of the viable blooms keeping in mind the different types of compositions that I was considering before settling on specific subjects. These flowers didn’t have the traditional beard that I normally see, and instead had what is apparently known as a crest.
For my Swish piece, my artistic vision was to create a horizontal abstract where the crest runs across the frame on a diagonal originating from the top left-hand corner. I loved the designs and patterns in the falls, their colors, and how they tend to accentuate the crest. I also liked the purple spots within the crest as they add a random quality. Tiny dew drops along the edges of the crest can be seen.
I liked how the crest in my Slithering Purple piece had a serpentine/winding look. My artistic vision was to create an abstract where the crest comes down into the frame diagonally from the top right-hand corner. I loved the colors and patterns on the falls here as well. While some of the dew drops are a bit larger on this iris, tiny ones can be seen along the edges and on the surface of the crest here too.
My Royal Accoutrements piece shows off more of the whole package as far as what these irises look like. While it still has some of the abstract falls, much more of the inner parts of the flower are on display. I found them to be quite intricate and pretty. In my mind’s eye, what looks like it could be a stamen reminded me of a scepter. Tiny drops of dew and individual pieces of pollen can be seen.
While exploring the north side of the museum grounds, I found some dandelions that I decided to play around with. After examining them, I picked a favorite (or at least one that I wanted to use for compositions). Due to the very early time of day and the lack of light on that side, use of a plamp was required. My initial measurement for shutter speed was at six seconds and Mother Nature rarely gives you that much time without some wind. The problem with a flower head that you can see through is that the resulting image will often be influenced by the plamp (depending on placement, of course). One way to counter that is to find something that can be used to cover the plamp that has the same colors as other flora found in the flower’s natural environment. A large leaf from a nearby weed with nice purples and greens was perfect to hide the plamp.
For my Dandy piece, my artistic vision was to focus down inside the head. That decision created an abstract with what appears to be an explosion of seeds shooting out in all directions. Due to the razor thin depth of field at nearly two times life size magnification, the pappus disks (sometimes referred to as a parachute) are outside the zone of sharpness and add white splashes and strands. Pieces of pollen and tiny hairs on the achenes can be seen.
For Wispy, I decided to see pull the focal point back to the top of the pappus disks. That still created an abstract, just with different qualities. Though both images were created using the same subject, they appear quite different. Additionally, the light had dramatically improved by the time I composed this so I was able to reduce the shutter speed by more than half. Pollen and individual hairs can be seen here as well.
While searching for subjects in the field off Gregg highway in Graniteville, I discovered some young pine trees. They weren’t more than five feet tall, and all of them had a white, furry looking tip at the top of their trunk. For my Tree Top piece, I made the artistic decision to place the tip on a diagonal where it comes up into the frame from the lower right-hand corner. The pine needles originate from below the tip, but extend out and rise up above it which meant that I could use them as my background. Though it has an abstract feel (thanks in part to the rather wispy looking needles and the hairy looking surface), I didn’t feel that it was random enough to be added to my Naturally Abstract collection. Thanks to the high level of captured detail, fine individual hairs can be seen.
I was exploring a field off Gregg highway in Graniteville and came across a couple of old stumps with nice abstract patterns and wonderful colors. The morning I discovered them, I didn’t have all of my gear with me, but I felt that they had the potential to provide a subject worthy of adding to my stump art subcollection. So, I made a note of where they were and decided to return during the best available light.
I was attracted to the colors and lines in the naturally abstract stump art of my Worn piece. My artistic vision was to frame it horizontally so that the lines curved up and into the frame from the lower right-hand side corner. By composing it using that perspective, the lines create a visual flow (almost like a ragged/jagged brush stroke). Rough and rugged looking surface texture can easily be seen.
A few feet from the stump in Worn, I found even better colors for my Sweep piece. I’m not sure why there were such good colors in areas when most of it was a darker, dingy, and in some cases, a washed out looking gray, but the oranges and yellows were just excellent. This one also has curves and arches, and my artistic vision was to feature those by composing vertically so that the lines would come up into the frame and then curl near the top. In my mind’s eye, their overall design reminded me of a paint brush or a broom. Surface texture can be seen here as well.
I noticed some very bright colors in my back yard after having been out creating most of the morning. Upon closer examination, I found the mushroom in my Cautionary Colors piece. Since I had all of my gear at the ready, I just stepped outside and set everything up. When it’s that easy to find a subject, you are almost compelled to utilize it. Due to the short background distance, I had to open up the lens to blur the pine needles on the ground around it. Once again, I used the camera’s Live View with the Depth Of Field preview to find the F-stop sweet spot. There were a couple of them in the area where this was composed, but they didn’t last long. I don’t know if some animal or bugs like them, but the next day they were gone.
P.S. As a standard disclaimer, I know that this isn’t technically considered flora, but I don’t have enough mushroom artwork to create an entire gallery just for them – yet.
I loved the gorgeous colors and the random, oddly shaped surface flakes on the mushroom so I decided to get close and create the naturally abstract composition in my Patchwork Orange piece. I’m not sure what the crystalline particles are on the flakes, but they could be silica or some other type of sand particles that adhered to the surface areas after being blown in by the wind. Whatever it is, cleaning the mushroom and blowing on it didn’t remove them, but I didn’t mind as I felt that they provided additional visual interest. The high level of captured detail allows surface textures and individual particles to be seen.
While Tropicana Islands shares some of the same skin-like flakes as Patchwork Orange, it isn’t exactly a vertical companion. That is, I moved the frame so that I could get more of the oranges and yellows on the bottom. In my mind’s eye, the colors reminded me of orange juice, as if there were land areas surrounded by it. Individual particles and surface textures are visible here as well thanks to the high level of detail.