Macro Leopard Frog In Duckweed At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Fountain Leopard

 

I’ve previously written and posted about the inoperative fountain system in Hopeland Gardens as well as being an opportunistic wildlife photographer.  All of the compositions in this post come from the upper fountain area and feature the same subject – a leopard frog that apparently wanted me to create works of it.  I was amazed that the frog let me get so close to it because normally they are very cautious and jump before you even get to see them.  I did move as slow as I could and continued to work my way up to these poses, but it almost felt like the frog simply wasn’t scared of me (for some unknown reason) and had no intention of fleeing no matter where I placed my tripod.  I did have a similar encounter with a young alligator once down at Magnolia Springs State Park near Millen, GA, but it has been my experience that sessions like that are extremely rare.

 

 

Macro directly above Leopard Frog in Duckweed at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Primed

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I was able to maneuver the tripod into a position where I was directly above the leopard frog for my Primed piece.  If it knew how nervous I was that it would jump, it very well may have.  I felt that this was a unique opportunity (if for no other reason than you just can’t ordinarily get this pose with a live subject without having used some type of unethical technique).  I was also thinking that its leg muscles must be locked and loaded and ready to fire in the blink of an eye.  I loved the green, elliptical patches mixed in with the rest of its body camouflage, and the duckweed roots draped across its body.  Due to the vertical orientation, I made the aesthetic choice of placing it very near the center of the frame horizontally.  The high level of detail allows textures to be seen.

 

 

Macro Leopard Frog in Duckweed at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Lounging Leopard

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By the time I had composed Lounging Leopard I was feeling pretty confident that this frog was going to let me create anything I wanted.  I had been deliberate and was careful when lifting and setting the legs of my tripod down both on the cement walls of the fountain and especially in the water near the frog.  One thing I did that may have helped was to pull the tripod up and away from the area when major leg adjustments were needed.  I had to use my experience and estimate the angles, height, and required leg positions for the next composition.  Having a ball head makes that a little bit easier because if you don’t quite get the legs into a good configuration you have some additional movement available by changing the orientation of your camera.  Aesthetically, I got as close to the water as I could so that I was nearly at eye-level to the frog.  Putting the perspective at your subject’s level helps bring them into a more intimate setting.  Keeping in mind that it is also important to give your subject some space to look into within the boundaries of the frame, I placed the eye so that it was nearly bisected by the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds.  And vertically, the eye is just below the upper, leftmost crossing line.  As with any wildlife subject, the focal point was put on the eye, which has a reflection off from its surface consisting of a little bit of sky and some trees that surround the fountain.  Once again, the high level of detail allows textures to be seen.

 

 

Macro head of Leopard Frog in Duckweed at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Leopard Head

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I got in as close as I could for my Leopard Head piece.  Having a longer lens certainly helps in a situation like this because you can create a full frame image without cropping or chasing your subject off due to the proximity of the lens.  At this distance, tiny details in the eye and on the skin are revealed.  For example, I love how the pigment in the skin has a type of sparkle in some areas.  Texture can be seen here as well (e.g., bumps on the outside of the eye socket and raised areas just behind the eyes) thanks to the high level of captured detail.

 

 

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Macro Abstract Algae On Reflecting Pool Surface At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC: Part 2

Abstract Algae: Part 2

 

Part 2 is a continuation of the Abstract Algae blog posts.  To see works from or read The Artist’s Story for Part 1, click here.

 

 

Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Global

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My Global piece is all about the big bubble, and it is so much taller and larger than the previous bubbles that the extremely shallow depth of field isn’t deep enough to keep the bottom of it within the zone of sharpness.  That being said, one of my artistic goals was to ensure that the smaller bubble on the left-hand side stayed within the frame.  Fortunately, doing that placed the subject so that the rightmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, pretty much bisects it.  I also positioned it very close to being centered vertically.  The specific spot in the pool where this was composed was out in the more open area, and, as such, it benefitted from the blues in the sky reflecting off the surface.

 

 

Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Bubbles On Bubbles

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To increase the apparent depth of field for my Bubbles On Bubbles piece, it was focus stacked.  That allows thousands of tiny bubbles on the surface to be seen while keeping the larger bubbles within the zone of sharpness.  While not as bright as the tones in Global, this also had the advantage of picking up more of the blues from the reflection of the sky.  The shadows and particles that surround the bubbles remind me of how gravity pulls in nearby objects as planets form.  In fact, throughout the entire time during the composition of these works other bubbles on the surface of the pool (some of which I had planned to use as subjects) were growing, merging, and even popping as they floated around.

 

 

To see related pieces click here, for bonus images, see below.

 

 

Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Viscous

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Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Strange Brew

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Macro Abstract Algae On Reflecting Pool Surface At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC: Part 1

Abstract Algae: Part 1

 

I’ve written about the large reflecting pool in Hopeland Gardens in previous posts, and my regular readers may have surmised that there are others on the grounds.  In fact, there are four different pools.  Two of them are near the main pool and can be found on either side of it, while the other one is lower and south of the main pool.  The lower pool is long and not as wide, and it doesn’t have a fountain feature.  On the morning I composed the pieces in this series of posts, the lower pool was nearly completely covered with green algae.  Upon a closer examination of the surface, I discovered lots of bubbles and interesting naturally abstract scenes.

 

 

Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Frothy

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I was attracted by the bubbles and the random strands of algae in my Frothy piece.  Most of the surface has a chaotic – all over the place – feel which tends to cause areas with structure (i.e., the more defined, circular nature of the bubbles) to be highlighted.  I found it to be an interesting mixture of organization within disorder, and, as I’ve previously mentioned, I like dichotomous abstracts.

 

 

Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Greenie

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There is still a good bit of disarray on the surface of my Greenie piece, but with the focal point being on a larger/taller bubble combined with an extremely shallow depth of field, it quickly lost much of its detail.  One of my artistic goals was to keep the swoop to the left of the bubble within the frame.  I placed the bubble to where the leftmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, cuts through it a little to the right of center.  Though not centered vertically, both the upper and lower one third lines dissect the bubble as well.  I love discovering happy little aspects during post processing, and, in this case, the reflection on the bubble that resembles a smile (giving it a similar appearance to a smiley face) was an unexpected treat.

 

 

To see related pieces click here, for a bonus image, see below.

 

 

Macro abstract algae on reflecting pool surface at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Formation

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Macro Abstract Duckweed In Fountain At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Duckweed

 

Macro abstract Duckweed in fountain at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Duckweed

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I’ve previously posted about the fountain system in Hopeland Gardens that used to have flowing water in it.  For most of the summer, the larger, upper portion was nearly dry.  We had enough rain and run off to put some water in the basin, and it didn’t take long before the duckweed covered the entire surface.  By putting part of my tripod in the water I was able to compose my Duckweed piece from directly above the aquatic plants.  I was attracted to how random (in size, angle, and position) the fronds were as well as how they formed an unmistakably abstract pattern.  Another random aspect of the composition is that they aren’t all perfect.  In fact, it appears that some of them have deteriorated or perhaps they’ve been eaten by some type of a bug that stripped their surface away and caused veins to be exposed.  While small in size and sandwiched between leaves, I also liked the reflections of trees and clouds on the water.

 

 

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Macro Abstract Wet Flower Center at Aiken County Historical Museum In Aiken, SC

Bubbling Yellow

 

Macro abstract wet flower center at Aiken County Historical Museum in Aiken, South Carolina
Bubbling Yellow

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There are some small bushes between the driveway and the east side of the building at the Aiken County Historical Museum.  I’ve inspected the nice little blooms they produce for a composition several times over the years, but wasn’t ever satisfied with what I was able to create.  My artistic goal was to fill the entire frame with the flower (something that is difficult to do because of their relatively diminutive size).  However, on the morning I created my Bubbling Yellow piece, I found a bush that had a flower on it that was just a bit bigger than what I’ve previously come across.  I placed the core of the flower slightly off center to that it could expand out and down toward the bottom of the frame.  I was thrilled with the wet surfaces and dew drops that add additional visual interest, and I love all the loops and arcs.

 

 

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Macro Abstract Wet Hydrangea At Hopeland Gardens In Aiken, SC

Wet Hydrangea

 

Macro abstract wet hydrangea at Hopeland Gardens in Aiken, South Carolina
Wet Hydrangea

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I was attracted by the blues and purples in my Wet Hydrangea piece, and I had been wanting to create an abstract macro composition that featured hydrangea for a long time.  I searched over several bushes in Hopeland Gardens until I found a group of petals that just felt right artistically.  The foreground petals as well as the layers beneath them were nicely laid out, and the wet surfaces both enhanced the saturation and increased the abstract feel at the same time.  To bring a little sense of order to the scene, I placed the bud in the center of the foreground petals so that the rightmost one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected it.  That also allowed the leftmost foreground petal to remain within the frame, which was an important aesthetic concern since it is the subject’s most prominent attribute.  I also really like the abstract designs from the reflections off the petal’s wet surface.  Then I used the bud as my focal point to amplify its relative importance.  Because of the bud’s height, that brought many of the dew drops scattered around the petals into the zone of sharpness.  The high level of detail allows texture to be seen.

 

 

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Macro Abstract Leaves Covered By Web Full Of Dew At Rye Patch In Aiken, SC

Dew Veil

 

Macro abstract leaves covered by web full of dew at Rye Patch in Aiken, South Carolina
Dew Veil

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As I was walking through the Rye Patch Rose Garden looking for subjects, I discovered a naturally abstract scene that I couldn’t pass without further investigation.  The Rose Garden is an enclosed area with two side entrances that each have a swinging door.  Within the garden boundaries are hedges that are usually neatly trimmed in a rectangular shape that further segregate the various areas.  On top of one of the hedge rows was a web that was completely covered in dew.  Upon closer examination of the area I subsequently captured in Dew Veil, I was struck by how I could see the leaves underneath the web while at the same time the drops of dew created a mask over them.  It was a curious effect and almost felt as if I was looking at leaves that had been embedded in glass.  I found a group of leaves that had a couple of tips poking up and out of the web as well as other leaves surrounding it in an artistic manner.  I then placed that group in the frame so that the rightmost vertical one third line, using the rule of thirds, nearly bisected them.  To achieve side-to-side sharpness across the entire frame, a technique known as focus stacking was employed.  The high level of captured detail allows web strands and a whole bunch of tiny dew drops to be seen.

 

 

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Macro Wet Spiderwort At Aiken County Historical Museum In Aiken, SC

Wet Spiderwort

 

Macro wet Spiderwort at Aiken County Historical Museum in Aiken, South Carolina
Wet Spiderwort

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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.

 

 

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Macro Fall Pansy At Rye Patch In Aiken, SC

Dew Point

 

Macro Pansy at Rye Patch in Aiken, South Carolina
Dew Point

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I just realized, as I was writing this, that I ended the season at the exact same place I started with an identical type of flower.  Patsy’s Garden in the Rye Patch Rose Garden had been recently replanted with pansies.  Artistically pleasing specimens were fairly sparse, but this one stood out.  I liked the colors (of course), but the tiny dew drops made the difference.  The petal surfaces are nearly completely covered resulting in a sparkling effect.  Aesthetically, I placed the green heart in the center of the flower just below the bottom one third line, using the rule of thirds, and used it as my focal point.  The high level of detail allows surface texture, individual dew drops, and individual pollen pieces to be seen.

 

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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

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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.

 

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