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.
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.
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 was intrigued with the subject of my Blooming Bloom piece. I have seen flowers on the hydrangea bushes in the area of Hopeland Gardens where this was created several times over the years, but I hadn’t ever found anything that set my artistic radar off. That is, until I looked much closer at the flowers. Upon examination of this hydrangea at two times life-size, I discovered that the center of the flower itself had what appeared to be stamen, anthers, and stigma. The most interesting part of that realization was that not very many of them had similar centers. In fact, the majority of them (at least 90 percent) had a tightly closed, nodule-like, raised bump that wasn’t nearly as attractive. This flower had an open center that showed off the gorgeous blues and purples that are apparently hidden inside of it most of the time. Increasing my fascination quotient was the fact that the area of flowers that were blooming seemed to have plenty of smaller blooms (without any petals) that had stamen on them. The high level of detail allows surface textures and dew to be seen.
Since there were quite a few primrose flowers growing in one of the little gardens on the side of the Aiken County Historical Museum building, I decided to give them a closer inspection. I was initially attracted to the subject in my X-Factor piece by the white X shape in the flower’s center. I’m not a botanist, but I didn’t see anything else that could be the stigma, so let’s go with that. When you are shooting at two times life-size and working with an extremely shallow depth of field, relatively speaking, the stigma was far above the rest of the flower parts. My artistic vision started with the placement of the stigma and as sort of an “X marks the spot” focal point while simultaneously finding an angle that would pull as many stamen into the frame as possible. Using the veins in the background petals was also important as they fan out and away from the stigma. The final concern was to avoid losing the green and yellow center highlights by keeping the majority of that area above the frame. Working together those elements create a sense of movement and an outward flow from the focal point.
The flowers in my Hopeland Azalea piece were fairly late bloomers. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had a warm late winter and early spring so most of them had long since bloomed. Perhaps this specific type of azalea naturally blossom on a different schedule. Since I was a bit surprised to find such nice colors, I couldn’t hardly walk right past them without at least looking at them through the lens. I positioned the camera so that these little beauties filled the frame in layers from front to back while maintaining sharpness on the stamen and stigma. The high level of detail allows individual hairs, surface texture, and pollen to be seen.
With plenty of golden hour light remaining after getting off the beach the morning of day six, I drove down the driving tour road looking for possible macro subjects. We had a fairly warm late winter that continued into spring and that caused lots of early blooms. While most of the spring flowers had already bloomed, I was able to find some that were reasonably fresh.
I found the false dandelion in my Tubes piece beside Mrs. Pepper’s Oak near the edge of Picnic Pond (which is area eight on the driving tour map). Composing at two times life-size combined with close proximity to the subject results in an extremely shallow depth of field, which helps create a sense that the tube-like structures fall away into a sparkly mist.
Picnic Pond Flower is close to being a vertical companion to Tubes. It is the same flower, but the distance to the subject has been increased. I often create both a horizontal and vertical version for a piece (especially when the subject permits it), which allows both orientations to be available.
I discovered the flower in my Sea Cloud piece beside fencing that completely surrounds the ruins of the Sea Cloud Plantation (which is area eleven on the driving tour map). The map information states that the builder (Ephraim Mikell Seabrook) attached the Sea Cloud name to the property in 1825. It was apparently quite elegant with a ballroom that spanned the entire third floor and gardens both in the front and back of the house. A foundation and some walls are all that remain. I don’t know if anyone has knowledge of what was grown in the gardens, and I’m not sure what type of flower this is, but, while composing, I thought that it would be neat if it was something that once grew there.
The false dandelion in Untrue was also composed at the Sea Cloud Plantation. There was a patch of them about 25 feet or so from the fence where the subject in Sea Cloud was found. This flower is obviously in a different stage of life than the subject discovered at Picnic Pond since it has what appears to be open mouths at the end of crusty, coated stems (perhaps with pollen) that have emerged from the tube-like structures. I decided to put the point of focus on the stems because they were quite interesting all by themselves. I love exploring at the macro level – you just never know what you’re going to find.
While walking along the side of the Aiken County Historical Museum building, after having worked the back gardens, some small, bright flowers caught my eye. They were in their own pots arranged along the stairs that lead up to a patio with a couple more strategically placed to embellish the area. With several to pick from, I chose the subject in my Wandering Jew piece for a compositional reason – it had the best background. Being able to utilize a nearly black background, thanks to an opportune shadow, is one method of removing any potential clutter. I’ve previously written about my preference for using only natural light, and this is an example of how, under the right conditions, it’s possible to compose in a way that looks like a flash was utilized. A darker background can help the subject stand out against it, and one doesn’t always need an additional light source to accomplish that. I like the sweeping, vertical arcs and the little bead-like, glassy looking strands coming off from the filaments. The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.