Shortly after arriving and setting up my gear, I decided to spend some time inspecting the flowers near the front of the Aiken County Historical Museum. I found the colors of the flower in my Floret Stack piece quite attractive, but the florets held my attention. My artistic vision was to place the mound of them slightly off center with the zone of sharpness extending from the top down as far as it would go. Which was a little tricky because they were laying on each other in an interesting, cone-like configuration. Even though the depth of field is not very deep, the abstract design in the very center of the florets is still visible. The florets are covered in tiny dew drops and in larger image sizes, individual drops can be seen.
Just a simple concept was enough to attract me to the canna lily leaves in my Down The Drain piece. As I looked down the tube formed by the rolled leaves, my artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition that ventured into them. I loved how they were swirled and pulled my eye deeper inside. In my mind’s eye, the spiraling effect immediately made me think of a drain. With the very shallow depth of field my experimental macro rig produces, making a determination as to where the focal point should be placed was tricky. To increase my possible opportunities, several compositions were created with varying focal points. I then selected the most aesthetically pleasing winner during my post processing evaluation phase using the much larger computer monitor. Having a decently sized display (e.g., 27 inches) allows the ability to get a good overall feel of your artwork and makes picking the most desirable version easier. And, don’t get me wrong, the promotion decision is strictly based on emotional response.
I was attracted to the canna lily scene in my Injection piece by several factors. For example, the overall naturally abstract feel, the lively striped background, the bands around the center stalk, and the fantastic dew drop. This was one of those settings where you’re so pleased it makes you chuckle with excitement and anticipation. In my mind’s eye, the large drop near the top of the needle-like protrusion immediately made me think of a liquid that had been forced from a syringe to ensure that no air bubbles exist. Because I placed the focal point on the drop, the background stripes can be seen within it, which created another visually appealing element. Even though the depth of field is quite shallow, enough detail remained in the background to create a psychedelic feel. The background is actually fairly wet and covered with lots of dew drops, but they are faded just enough to where they add additional interest.
This is the final post from my visits to the Yonce farm. It is such a great place to find colorful and interesting subjects. I also had a couple of nice visits with Bob after having created during the best light of the morning. The last time we met he was recovering from being run over by his antique tractor in an unusual, freak accident where he managed to start it while it was in gear when standing in front of a rear wheel. He was actually pretty lucky to get out of the situation as well as he did because the outcome could have been much worse. He indicated that he was going to continue to “slow down” and maybe concentrate on the front gardens while letting the others go in the coming growing season. I hope to get back over there soon if for no other reason than to just visit with them.
The strange shape of the wet anthers attracted me to the flower in my On Point piece. I had never previously seen anthers like these (at the Yonce farm or anywhere else) on a daylily. I didn’t have the opportunity to ask Bob if this was, in fact, a daylily or to inquire about the specific type it might be. As it was growing in the front garden (the one closest to the road) and that whole section is full of daylilies, I’d like to believe that it is. The sharp tips and swollen, bumpy areas make it look like a genetic mutation. Which is possible since during a prior discussion with Bob, he described the process he used to create his own daylily variations. I liked the fiery, dark reds in the filaments and the oranges and yellows in the background. In combination with the pointed anthers, they produce a somewhat menacing vibe, and I felt that the scene would make a nice addition to my Naturally Abstract gallery. Surface textures and dew drops can be seen thanks to the high level of captured detail.
The petals in my Magma Vent piece are from the same flower featured in On Point. So not only did it have unique anthers, the petals were also layered. Another interesting characteristic was that the outermost petals came to a sharp point. What really grabbed my attention though was the fact that the main petal in this setting was being backlit. The golden hour light had enhanced the entire surface. The gorgeous oranges and yellows combined with the striations immediately reminded me of lava flowing from a volcano. My artistic vision was to create a naturally abstract composition where the dark red, cooler, outer layer is above the glowing, hotter, oozing, molten rock as it moves up and out from underneath it. Thanks to the experimental macro rig’s isolation capabilities, I was able to concentrate on a fairly small area and fill the entire frame using only the flower’s petals. Surface textures are visible here as well.
I was attracted to the naturally abstract scene in my Ribs piece by the simple colors and lines I discovered on the petals of this daylily. Of course, I had to search for a location on the flower that was free of any anthers, stigma, or stamen to create a relatively clean, minimalist feeling, composition. I love how using nothing more than magnification gives me an ability to reduce subjects down to such basic components. Even though there are some pieces of pollen and surface textures can be seen, there isn’t much more than that in the frame. That being said, the color junkie in me was also quite happy with the colors and their transitions.
I was attracted to the daylily in my Red Drops piece by the rich, dark red colors of the petal as well as the water drops. I liked the distinctive naturally abstract qualities of the scene as well as the dynamic aesthetics of the hard and soft areas. For example, the surface of the petal has a crinkled texture while the water drops appear to be silky smooth. While I did create some compositions using the diffuser, I preferred the version without since I like the sunstars in the water drops. As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, I also like how the water acts as a magnifying glass and brings out additional details in the surface underneath the drops.
I was initially attracted to the daylily in my Trough Drop piece by the colors, but the relatively wet surface quickly grabbed and held my attention. My artistic vision was to utilize the isolation capability of my experimental macro rig on a section of the flower that had both elements. I felt that the inner rim of the petal (with the gorgeous color transitions) combined with the water flowing down the outside of the petal into a drop created a nice naturally abstract scene. By placing the focal point on the drop, the zone of sharpness runs along the rim, and the very shallow depth of field helps reinforce the fact that it is setting on a ledge. In my mind’s eye, from a bug’s perspective, it might feel like you were looking over the edge of a colorful trench. Within the zone of sharpness, surface texture is visible.
This scene is from the same daylily that I used to create Red Drops, and since I was already at the flower, I decided to see what it looked like on the inside for my Collection piece. When you look at all of the colors between the two images, they offer visual proof of why I feel lilies make such fantastic subjects. It really is amazing that a single flower can produce a rainbow of tones. I also liked the design that the anthers formed and how a single independent stamen was peaking out from behind the others. The high level of detail allows surface texture to be seen.
Hopeland Gardens has three rectangular fountain areas that, as legend has it, are actually the foundation of the original Iselin home. The largest one of them normally has soothing, bubbling sounds coming from the water being pumped out of the fountains in the center of it. In addition to pleasing your auditory senses, it has good sized pots on each corner that usually have some type of flora in them. I’ve composed many images from those flowerpots over the years, and I discovered the leaf in my Wet Christmas piece growing from flora that was planted in one. I was attracted to the scene by the Christmas colors (reds, greens, and whites), but the naturally abstract qualities were an even bigger impetus. My artistic vision was to put the two larger veins running diagonally through the frame. Aesthetically, the position felt best when the center of the crossroads where all of the veins meet was placed near the upper, rightmost crossing line using the rule of thirds. The wet surface helps bring out the saturation and increases the abstract feel.
I’ve created lots of pansy artwork over the years with many of them coming from Patsy’s Garden at the Rye Patch. Maybe she loved them and their wonderful designs as much as I do. Who knows, she may have even agreed with my “Pansies Rock” mantra. Longtime readers of this blog are familiar with her special, memorial area within the Rose Garden, but for those of you who aren’t, my Patsy’s blog tag is a good place to learn more about it. I was attracted to the flower in my Sunburst piece by the pattern of purples that are streaming out and away from the center of it combined with the yellow and orange tones. As I usually do when framing these little flowers, I placed the green heart in the core so that a one third line, using the rule of thirds, crossed it. The high level of captured detail allows lots of tiny dew drops and pollen to be seen.
I was initially attracted to the rose bud in my Wet Paint piece by the colors, which will not be a surprise to anyone who has been reading this blog for a while. Those gorgeous oranges and reds were appealing from the entrance door all the way across the Rose Garden at the Rye Patch. As I got closer to the subject, my artistic vision was to add to my Naturally Abstract gallery by focusing on a specific section of the bud. One of the things that fascinates me about macro photography is how just being physically close to something while simultaneously using magnification can break it down into simple colors and lines. In this case, to the point of not even being able to tell that it’s a flower. I love that, and to achieve it, I composed this at two times life-size. There was a bit of wind the morning I created this and, while I had a Plamp holding the bud, I lowered the F-stop to gain back a little shutter speed. Doing that further reduced the already razor thin depth of field, but that also amplified the aesthetic effect I wanted. The colors reminded me of paint, as if someone had pulled a brush across the frame, and the tiny dew drops that completely cover the surface provide a wet look.
One of the things I like about the south is that flowers are still blooming in early fall. Of course, it doesn’t feel much like fall during that time when the high temperatures remain in the upper 80’s. As usual, the colors of the subject in my Spiny piece are what attracted me to it. I found this flower in the front garden near the south wall of the Aiken County Historical Museum (i.e., next to where Newberry and New Lane streets meet) and it appeared to be fairly fresh. It was also quite wet with morning dew. All that water helps calm down the sharp spikes found across most of the flower’s surface. For aesthetic reasons, I placed the center of the flower in the frame slightly to the left of center horizontally and nearly centered vertically. The high level of detail allows individual dew drops as well as tiny hairs and spines to be seen.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.