I’ve written about the large reflecting pool in Hopeland Gardens in previous posts. On this particular morning, the crepe myrtle was in bloom alongside the smaller reflecting pool. The colorful reflections from leaves on the nearby trees, the sky, and the crape myrtle blossoms on the dancing water caught my attention as I was searching for subjects. As I normally only carry a single lens with me (unless I’ve made plans to be in an environment where not having additional glass could cost me an opportunity), the macro rig was mounted on my camera. The long lens, light loss, motion, and time of day meant that some adjustments were needed (e.g., ISO and F-stop) so that enough light could be gathered to create an aesthetically pleasing composition while simultaneously slowing down the movement. I loved how not completely freezing the waves caused blending and mixing of the colors in my Time Warp piece and endowed it with an increased abstract feel. To enhance that effect and to get as much color as I could onto the sensor, I purposefully framed the scene on a diagonal. The randomly scattered bright spots are bubbles on the surface of the water.
I was attracted to my Wet Spiderwort piece by how nicely the yellow anthers popped against the complementary blues. But, as is often the case, upon viewing the scene at nearly two times life-size, I discovered something even more enticing. I loved how the water drops had formed in and around the anthers and stigma. By dialing back the already shallow depth of field, I could have reduced the detail in the background, however, my desire to hold a selection of anthers and the water drops sharply in focus outweighed any other aesthetic priorities. Further, I like how the drops on the petals add to the overall soaked feel. To place them in an artistically pleasing location within the frame, the largest drops in the group of anthers were concentrated near the left most, bottom crossing line, using the rule of thirds, and they all touch (or are split by) one of the horizontal or vertical grid lines. The high level of captured detail allows textures and drop reflections to be seen.
If you’re a regular reader of my blog posts, you may remember a post where I described the no longer operational fountain in Hopeland Gardens. I discovered the female box turtle in my Private Pond piece in the catch basin portion of the fountain system. When the fountain was functioning, water from the canal would flow into the basin where it would, presumably, be pumped back up to the starting point. With no water streaming down the canal, only surface runoff, rain, etc. can get into the catch basin. I’m not sure how she got into the basin, but, because the cement walls are pretty high, she was essentially trapped until it fills with enough water (or perhaps something else she could utilize) for her to climb out. I didn’t see any other turtles so she has the whole area to herself. I had been checking on her during previous trips, but wasn’t happy with the background or her position. Being completely surrounded by duckweed presented the best opportunity I had been given. While she remained perfectly still, her throat was moving in and out (which I liked because it shows movement and implies breathing).
I loved the soft rolls and arcs in my Sugar piece. Of course, I was attracted by the lovely colors (they have a candy-like sweetness), but the abstract design I discovered at two times life-size was more than enough to ensure that this subject would be captured. I also liked the pink flames randomly scattered among the tubes in the very center of the flower. The high level of detail allows individual hairs and pieces of pollen to be seen.
The flower in Party Colors wasn’t exactly in the Butterfly Garden. There was a small section along the bathrooms that are near the Butterfly Garden that was full of these beauties, and their pinks, purples, reds, and yellows called me over to them. In fact, there were no other flowers that colorful in any of the other gardens. I loved the color scheme and how the pinks/purples change to reds/oranges. I also loved the nice little water drop at the tip of the disc floret. The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual hairs 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.
Both of the pieces in this post are from the same plant at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I previously posted about (the one in the front of the museum near the archway). The storm we had the night before these were composed left plenty of water drops on the surface of the leaves.
I was, once again, attracted to this plant by the gorgeous greens in the leaves. The abstract pattern of lines and water drops in my Chutes piece provided additional allure. I loved the randomness and number of the drops. I examined the plant while walking around it until I found an angle that let me accomplish my artistic vision. My first objective was to, as much as possible, fill the image with leaves from the foreground to the background by stacking and overlapping them. Secondly, I placed the leaves in the frame so that their arched edges originated below the bottom and came up and out as if they were growing/expanding (perhaps even as a response to being watered so well). The high level of detail allows surface texture and individual teeth along the leaf edges to be seen.
Cascades shares similar characteristics with Chutes. I really like the darker (almost jade) greens which helped bring out the lighter colored edges. My vision here was to fan the leaves out like a deck of cards from left to right. Individual edge teeth and surface texture can be seen here as well – thanks to the high level of detail.
The compositions below are from the same plant group in the back garden at the Aiken County Historical Museum that I previously posted about. The flowers took a pretty bad beating from a storm that came through the night before I captured these. Only a single flower was in good enough shape to be photographed.
I loved the random, abstract design on the canna lily in my Dropped In piece. The oranges and yellows were also quite attractive. But my favorite part has to be the large water drops. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the flower in the frame using a perspective that would pull in as much of the patterns on the petal surfaces as possible. The high level of detail allows surface textures and individual drops to be seen.
Even though it’s obviously the same subject, Flow isn’t exactly a horizontal companion to Dropped In. After I rotated the lens, I also had to change the perspective because for artistic motives I, once again, wanted to incorporate as much of the yellows, oranges, and reds in the abstract patterns into the frame. I liked how the splashes of oranges and reds seem to have been expelled out of the center of the flower and create the impression that some are dripping back down into it. I also felt that the large water drops were equally attractive from this view. Surface texture and individual water drops can be seen thanks to the high level of detail.
There is an old water fountain in Hopeland Gardens that used to be operational. Water bubbled out of it and ran down a cement canal into a catch basin where it was presumably pumped back up to the fountain. A pedestrian bridge was constructed over the top of the canal so that visitors could cross it (you can see part of the bridge and, if you look closely, part of the canal in my Hopeland Gardens Path). It has been years since any water flowed from the fountain, and the base is now filled with duckweed, sticks, leaves, and a few inches of murky, swampy looking water. While searching the duckweed for an abstract pattern, I discovered the scene in my Fountain Eggs piece. The dark, round nodules appear to be some type of egg and the green leaves are duckweed. This is from a fairly small area and was composed at two times life-size. I liked how the eggs formed hexagonal structures with round cones inside them that reflected the blue sky. In larger versions, you can see cellular activity within some of the cones (it looks a bit like tiny brains). I thought it was pretty cool – whatever it is.
When I saw the concentration of drops on this lambs ear in Hopeland Gardens, I couldn’t resist creating another composition from the same area where a previous subject was captured. I loved the number of drops and their shapes. And, I love how they act as miniature magnifying glasses with splashes of refracted color. Some of the globes of water in Ear Drops remind me of a Plasma Lamp. The scene itself is fairly complex, which is aided by the high level of detail (e.g., individual strands of hair can be seen).
After a pretty good soaking rain from the previous day and night, I discovered some leaves with nice patterns of water drops on them in Hopeland Gardens. I’m not sure what type of flora the leaves come from (perhaps various vines or other growth that is relatively short), but they do seem to have a surface that creates cool abstract designs when wet.
I loved the colors in my Indubitably Green piece. Nearly the entire frame consists of different shades of greens. Most of the leaves in the area where this was found were wet enough to create similar mosaics, so the trick was searching for an arrangement that was artistically pleasing. Combining that desire with finding a surface capable of providing the best sharpness with an extremely shallow depth of field, increases the difficulty level. The most desirable subjects are relatively flat and allow the camera’s sensor plane to be easily aligned with their surface. Several leaves were tried and rejected before discovering one that met my aesthetic requirements. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be visible.
The drops in Drenched were attractive because of their shapes. While some are fairly round, most are drooping and have more oblong, sloping, or swooping lines and curves that tend to give them a bit more character. Once again, I loved the colors. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be visible here as well.
My Sub Lime composition has an interesting mixture of several elements. The hard, sharp edges of the reflections combined with the soft curves of the drops provide a nice balance. I also liked the random placement of the drops and their shapes as well as how they seem to have a bit better ability to magnify the surface beneath them. Finally, the colors here were equally attractive as they were in the previous pieces. Thanks to the high level of detail, surface texture can be seen here too.