Macro Abstract Fall Leaf At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Closing In

 

Macro abstract leaf changing to Fall colors at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Closing In

To purchase a print of Closing In click here
To view a larger version of Closing In click here

I liked the naturally abstract pattern on the leaf in my Closing In piece.  I discovered it in the same swampy area of Hopeland Gardens that several other leaf compositions came from.  In addition to the pigment pattern painted across its surface, I felt that it was a poignant depiction of the end of a life cycle.  Very little of the original, healthy green of the leaf exists.  Nearly all of it has been replaced by stages of dying and death.  The yellows are the beginning of the end with the colorful oranges and reds of decay following close behind.  The browns are next in the timeline and then finally black (colorless and lifeless).  The green areas are trying to hold out, to continue providing their contribution to the sustainment of life, but they are losing and there is no hope of recovery.  The inevitability is inescapable.  The leaf will become nourishment for any number of other organisms and it provides a visual treat by presenting gorgeous colors on its way out.  As if Mother Nature wanted us to see that even death has positive attributes.  The high level of detail allows surface textures to be seen.

 

To see related pieces click here

Macro Dew Covered Carolina Anole At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Wet Hunter

 

Macro dew covered Carolina Anole at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Wet Hunter

To purchase a print of Wet Hunter click here
To view a larger version of Wet Hunter click here

Prior to creating my Wet Hunter piece, I was exploring the swampy area in Hopeland Gardens where a couple of my favorite leaf compositions have come from looking for another leaf that had turned the right color and would be backlit by the rising sun.  I didn’t find any cool leaves, but while I was searching, I looked up and this anole caught my eye.

 

Though I’ve posted previously about being an opportunistic wildlife shooter, the scene was simply too good to ignore.  I created more than 240 images in an effort to get the best pose that I possibly could.  I really had to work to get this.  Multiple perspectives were needed because the rising sun occasionally brought too much light into the background which forced me to find an angle that looked into an area with better balance.  Additionally, I used decreasing camera to subject distances as I worked my way closer by carefully repositioning the tripod.  It likely would have taken fewer images under better conditions, but the wind was blowing the cattail around (which by extension was moving the anole), and my subject would not sit still for very long.  It was frequently moving its head, and, when the head was still, the eye was moving all over the place.

 

I loved the dew drops all over its body, the position it was in, how the tail was wrapped behind the cattail leaf, the cattail head, the angle of the cattail leaf (diagonally up through the frame), and the nice colors.  I love artistic nature pieces – especially work from the late Ronnie Gaubert (one of my luminaries).  Ronnie had an ability to present nature as both documentary and beautifully artistic, and I think I may have been tapping into some of his influence that morning.  This was my favorite of the several images I kept, and the others that made the cut are available as stock only.  The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual dew drops to be seen.

 

To see related pieces click here

Macro Abstract Leaf At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Lava Leaf

 

Macro abstract leaf at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Lava Leaf

To purchase a print of Lava Leaf click here
To view a larger version of Lava Leaf click here

Lava Leaf is from the same swampy area of Hopeland Gardens that produced Fire Veins.  In fact, they are both from the same type of leaf.  Additionally, it was backlit by the golden toned light of the rising sun.  I loved the colors and the design created by the skin transformation as the leaf passes through its final stages of life.  Upon finding this particular area of the leaf, it immediately made me think of molten rock streams flowing and mixing together as they pour from a volcano.  Discovering scenes like this is a major reason why I love shooting abstract macros so much.

 

To see related pieces click here

Water Moccasin At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Hopeland Water Moccasin

 

Water Moccasin at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
First

To purchase a print of First click here
To view a larger version of First click here

I felt like I needed to go down by the water near the swamp’s edge in Hopeland Gardens the morning I composed First.  That area, just before the wooden bridge closest to Whisky Road, is not some place I usually go, but something told me that I should (even if it was for nothing more than to see if there was anything worthy of pointing a lens at).  On my way down the hill I scared a snake, but it didn’t go far and was trying to be still even though most of its body was exposed.  Since it was going away from me, I couldn’t see its eyes, and I didn’t feel like there was a composition worth pursuing.  It looked like it could be a water moccasin, but I figured it was probably a water snake.  After never even seeing a snake the entire time I’ve created there, I couldn’t convince myself that it was a poisonous one.  I didn’t even think about it the rest of the time I was exploring other areas, but on my way back from the Rye Patch, coming around from the other side, I wondered if it was still there.  When I reached the area I was in earlier in the morning, I looked down and saw the snake once again.  It had moved up away from the water and was laying partially in the sun with about half of its body in shade.  I decided to see if I could tell what it was so I snuck down the hill a little closer to it and used the lens to magnify its eye.  It was a water moccasin!  A fat one (obviously it has been eating well).

 

 

Macro Water Moccasin at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Mug Shot

To purchase a print of Mug Shot click here
To view a larger version of Mug Shot click here

I continued to carefully get closer and closer to the snake trying not to scare it as well as being VERY cautious.  I moved slowly and always kept on eye on it.  I was close enough to turn the lens horizontally for my Mug Shot composition.

 

I have some stock images of it that are within three to four feet from it, but without snake boots I was starting to get a bit nervous.  If I could have easily escaped, I might have been a little braver and possibly got even closer.  BUT, I had a HUGE disadvantage with the tree knees all over the place and the fact that I would have to go backwards up a fairly steep hill covered in slippery pine needles.  I had made up my mind that if it came at me, I was going to abandon the tripod and camera and come back for it later.  Trying to pick that up and get away from an angry water moccasin at the same time would have only made matters worse.

 

So if anyone was curious about the accuracy of the warning posters in the information areas, I can present proof that there are indeed poisonous snakes in Hopeland Gardens.  I will now need to be MUCH more aware of what’s on the ground especially while exploring near the swampy areas.  Either that, or start wearing my snake boots.

 

To see related pieces click here

Macro Abstract Leaves At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Swamp Curves

Macro abstract leaves in swampy area of Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Swamp Curves

To purchase a print of Swamp Curves click here
To view a larger version of Swamp Curves click here

While exploring one of the swampy areas of Hopeland Gardens, I came across the scene in my Swamp Curves piece.  I was initially attracted to it by the gorgeous greens in the leaves, but the sweeping curves of the foreground leaf convinced me to create this.  I love the tiny dew drops along the edge of the leaf and how the curves seem to flow out and away from the midrib as if they were ripples on a green lake.

 

To see related pieces click here

Abstract Weed Seeds At Phinizy Swamp Nature Park In Augusta, GA

Wind Seeds

Macro abstract seeds at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta, Georgia
Wind Ready

To purchase a print of Wind Ready click here
To view a larger version of Wind Ready click here

The focal point used in Wind Ready allows you to peer down inside the subject’s head of seeds.  Though these are a different type of seed, they share similarities with my Rainbow Seeds piece and display a reduced, but still visible, prism-like effect.  I like how the seed hairs shoot out like star bursts and they remind me of sparkles from fireworks.  Those small hairs have tiny, thinner and shorter hairs coming off from them that can be perceived as individual strands since a high level of detail was captured.

 

Macro abstract seeds at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta, Georgia
Eversion

To purchase a print of Eversion click here
To view a larger version of Eversion click here

By focusing near the center of the subject in Eversion, I was able to create an abstract composition that allows what is normally hidden beneath its fluffy hairs to be seen; effectively turning it inside out.  The outwardly radiating feeling is enhanced by, and gains an edgy attitude from, the ribs in and barbs along the seed blades.  The high level of detail allows surface texture, contours, and individual teeth-like spikes to be seen.

 

To see related pieces click here

Thistle At Phinizy Swamp Nature Park In Augusta, GA

Phinizy Thistle

Macro Thistle at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta, Georgia
Phinizy Thistle

To purchase a print of Phinizy Thistle click here
To view a larger version of Phinizy Thistle click here

I can see how a thistle could be a controversial subject.  On one hand, some folks may feel it’s ugly.  In part, their reasoning might be based on the fact that it is a weed and, by default, weeds are hated, despised, and should be eradicated.  I would concede that, despite being a nice purple color, the sharp thorns on the subject in Phinizy Thistle aren’t doing anything to help its pretty quotient.  And I would agree that for golf courses and other sites that wish to maintain pristine grassy areas, controlling the weed population is essential.  But where this subject was found, I would argue that they are just as important to the ecosystem as anything else.  I focused my attention on it because it had a nice flower and because it permitted me to alter the perspective so that I could maximize the amount of yellow in the background.  Being a flowering weed that is both pretty and ugly, perhaps thistle is just inherently contentious.  The high level of detail allows pieces of pollen, surface texture, contours, individual hairs, and thorn points to be seen.

 

To see related pieces click here

Rainbow Seeds At Phinizy Swamp Nature Park In Augusta, GA

Rainbow Seeds

Macro abstract seeds at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park in Augusta, Georgia
Rainbow Seeds

To purchase a print of Rainbow Seeds click here
To view a larger version of Rainbow Seeds click here

I was creating abstract compositions of an open pod of seeds one spring afternoon in the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park when the light changed to a perfect amount and angle.  This was one of those serendipitous moments that photographers out in the field occasionally enjoy.   The tiny little hairs in Rainbow Seeds caught the light in a way that allowed a prism-like effect to occur.  I don’t believe it lasted more than two minutes, and I was already set up, focused, and ready to create when it happened.  The result was shimmering streaks of colors all through the composition.  The experience could very well be compared to some origins of riddles and tales of yore.  For example, you’ve no doubt heard that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow?  Well, these little seeds could just as easily be picked up by the wind, carried to and planted in their final destination, then during the right sun and rain mix, sprout rainbows.  Who knows what Mother Nature is capable of?  😉  The high level of detail allows surface texture and contours on some seeds as well as glassy strands and very thin individual hairs to be seen.

 

To see related pieces click here

Sunset On Otter Trail At Cuddo East Unit Of Santee NWR In Summerton, SC

Otter Trail Sunset

Sunset on Otter Trail in Cuddo East NWR in Summerton, South Carolina
Otter Trail Sunset

To purchase a print of Otter Trail Sunset click here
To view a larger version of Otter Trail Sunset click here

I noted this site along Otter Trail in Cuddo East while doing some scouting the afternoon of the third full day of my SC AIR trip.  In fact, this is very near the area where the herd of wild pigs (mentioned in a previous post) was observed.  I arrived before the golden hour to position my tripod and camera in a favorable location.  After preparing for the sun to descend into the scene, I experienced another one of the trip highlights I wrote about in a prior post.  Sitting here in this spot, watching the golden light filter down through the trees, is where I heard the coyotes wailing.  Their boisterous excitement seemed to serenade the retreating sun and add an aural element that served as icing on the cake to a wonderfully enriching time with nature.  Fighting off ever increasing numbers of mosquitos, I waited until the magic light streaked across the duckweed covered canal and completely enveloped the opening at the tree line in the background before creating the composition in Otter Trail Sunset.

 

To see related pieces click here

Water Moccasin At Phinizy Swamp Nature Park Plays Dead

Thanatosis….Or Not

Water Moccasin At Phinizy Swamp Nature ParkTo purchase a print of Thanatosis….Or Not click here
To view a larger version of Thanatosis….Or Not click here

I’m an opportunistic wildlife shooter.  That is, if there is an opportunity, I’ll create a piece, but I don’t normally go out specifically looking for those types of shots.  On this particular morning I was making my way through one of the smaller swampy areas, across the road from the main campus, in the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, when I came upon what looked like a decapitated Cottonmouth snake.  I thought that, because I couldn’t see a tail or a head.  Just the body of a completely motionless, at least three foot long, snake laying there.  The CSRA was in the middle of a drought that eventually completely dried up that section of the park, but at the time, with my snake boots on, I was standing in about four inches of water.  I figured an animal had killed and dropped it when I disturbed their breakfast while sloshing through the weeds.  I was also thinking it would be pretty cool to have a Water Moccasin skin.  I did consider picking it up, but luckily that insane thought was quickly replaced with determining if it had a head before physically touching it.  I examined it the best I was able to, but could not ascertain if it was dead or headless.  Since I had my tripod with me, I decided to poke it with one of the legs and see what reaction that would bring.  I gave it a thump, and there was absolutely no response.  After a couple of seconds, I gave it two pretty good back-to-back bumps, and it still appeared to be dead to the world.  While watching and waiting for any sign of life, I thought, “I’ll give this one last try and then it should be safe to lift it up out of the water.”  So I gave it two more ‘this time I mean it’ pops and POW, in the blink of an eye, out comes an unhappy, hissing, white-mouthed monster.  I was scared (but just for a second since this wasn’t my first run in with one of these – I’ve got an even better story about another encounter that I wasn’t able to capture), but I think I was more startled than anything because I was beginning to believe that it was actually dead.  At that point, the photographer in me took over and as fast as I could I put the tripod down, grabbed the camera, composed the piece, focused, and hit the button on the remote switch.  The entire incident took place so fast that it was the only chance I got.  Before I even knew what happened, the snake had moved off towards the shore where the cattails and weeds were much taller.

I had a macro rig on the camera, so this piece is essentially a head-shot with the snake’s body as the primary background.  That also allowed for lots of detail in the head and mouth areas.  I like the eye, the oily surface, and the wetness which brings out a more saturated look across the body.

So kids, don’t try this at home or in a swamp near you.  While they may be “playing dead”, the operative word here is playing.

To view related pieces click here