I was pulled over to the magnolia tree in a neighbor’s yard where I found the blossom in my Magnolia Flame piece by all of the flowers on the ground. From a distance, it looked like there was a layer of pink surrounding the entire base of the tree. I thought I might be able to create a naturally abstract composition from the flowers that had fallen off, but as I got closer it became clear that the remnants didn’t completely cover the grass and they were in fairly poor shape. Not wanting to come home empty handed, I searched the branches for a new, better subject. This particular bloom was fresh with excellent colors that drew me right in. The shape that the petals formed immediately made me think of a flame (as if the fire from a candle was burning in a gorgeous pink tone). Even though it was shot wide open with a very shallow depth of field, details including the surface texture and pollen can be seen.
Intrigued with its center, I was closely examining the inside of a periwinkle before creating Periwinkled Camellia. Especially interesting was its pentagonal shape as well as the tiny, orange looking core with hair-like structures surrounding it. Positioning the camera close to the subject meant that the flower’s petals and everything in the background was almost completely blurred. The bokeh was great, but the color scheme was not very attractive. The background had a little bit of green in it, but mostly consisted of a dirty brown. During my earlier exploration of the grounds, I had noticed that some of the nearby Camellia petals had fallen to the ground. Since pink and red are complementary to blue and purple, I decided to gather some of the fallen petals and place them under the Periwinkle so that they would form a new, much more colorful, background. I felt that the arranged scene was significantly more aesthetically pleasing. The piece also gives the impression of movement; like the petals of the Periwinkle are fan blades that are spinning clockwise perhaps powered by the energy of its core. This was composed at two times life-size with the focus and concentration of detail on the flower’s center, which allows surface texture, hairs, and even pollen particles to be seen.
The pansy in Deep Purple has a different color scheme than any of those I’ve written about previously (see Hopeland Gardens Pansies Part 1, 2, 3, & 4). It does have the same beauty inside attribute along with the pollinator’s neon sign and electric highlights, but what prompted me to create this piece was how dark the purples are. The bulb-like structures are also interesting in that half of them are clear while the others have color. The center focal point really jumps out, thanks in part to the darker colors that surround it. Those shadowy colors also give it a more moody feeling.
The flowers in Fireworks are quite small. Despite their diminutive size, they pack an attractive visual punch. I positioned the camera so that the top group of flowers would get the maximum amount of pop against the shadows in the background while keeping the remainder of the frame as clean as possible (which was challenging due to the number of flowers on the bush).
Because I want to keep these stories on a behind-the-scenes, artistic, aesthetic, compositional, or emotional basis, I haven’t discussed the technical aspects of camera operation. Without going into too much detail, depth of field is a topic that macro photographers are keenly aware of. In this particular composition, that comes into play while trying to keep all of the flower’s stamens in sharp focus. The bottom line is there isn’t enough depth of field in a single image to make that possible. Once again, a compromise is needed and an artist must choose which features or areas are given priority.
The stamen in this piece gave me the impression of exploding fireworks and reminded me of how they shoot off in all directions with a head and streamer/tail following them. I felt that the anthers looked like heads, the filaments like tails, and the petals like a background or initial explosion.
I was near the Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame & Museum in Hopeland Gardens when I discovered several blossoms that were potential subjects. There was just one little problem – wind. I selected a flower that could be at least partially held still using my Plamps. The sun was setting and getting closer to the horizon while I waited for the breeze to calm down. I’ve previously written about golden light and how wonderful it is to compose in, though, at the time, I never expected anything like this. The Magnolia in my Inner Glow piece would have been pretty all by itself, but it was given an extra boost of color from the setting sun. As soon as I realized that the nearly orange back lighting was causing the inside of the flower to glow, I knew this would be a rare opportunity to capture something special.
An Iris can be attractive when viewing the whole flower, but it may have as much, if not more, beauty on the inside. For example, the subject in my Dollhouse Iris piece was quite pretty and almost a color beacon when contrasted with the majority of hibernating life in Hopeland Gardens that winter afternoon. But, by positioning my camera to where I could create a composition under one of the standards, an entirely different scene was discovered. The veins of the fall, beard, and anther have a captivating allure all of their own. As I was composing this, I imagined the fall being a big tongue about to give the camera a loving lick.
In my Say Ah piece, I zoomed in much closer to this Iris. The proximity here eliminated a frame of reference and created an abstract composition. Looking at the fall, beard, and anther it felt like I was staring down the flower’s throat. The first thing that came to my mind was a doctor’s request when they are examining the inside of someone’s mouth, “Say ah.” I love the colors, the patterns in the veins, and the round, tubular shapes in the beard.
I’ve written about my passion for creating macro artwork in previous posts. Adding to that, I absolutely love placing the perspective so close to a subject that any normal frame of reference is lost. Macro offers an artist the ability to continue zooming in and discover beauty where only lines, patterns, and color can be perceived. This technique takes finding ‘the beauty inside’ to the next level. Welcome to nature’s abstract world.
The center of the Iris in Threefold was open in such a way that I could get quite close to it and remove telltale flower areas from the composition. I was thrilled with the thought of not easily revealing what this piece was, but more than that, I loved the colors and sweeping arcs. By having soft, round lines and surfaces while simultaneously being loud, it feels as if it is modestly showing off or gracefully busting out. Either way, it seems to be saying, “Here I am.” I also like the little bit of beard in the lower right hand side and the ability to see surface texture.
The Camellia in The Mask was blossoming in front of the Dollhouse in Hopeland Gardens. Primarily due to the odd shape, the center of it is what caught my attention. It gave me the impression of being some type of a bizarre or comic-like mask with uneven and irregular eye slots, a vented nose portal, and dangling, yellow snaggleteeth. At a minimum, it met my interesting criteria. I also liked the little bit of inner glow coming from behind thanks to some backlight; that gives it a small color boost and increases the sinister feeling. I think nature’s inexhaustible random creation ability is awesome.
The bark on these trees in Hopeland Gardens creates random patterns as it peels off and falls to the ground. The red, tan, and brown colors underneath the bark are also attractive. But the vine in Climbing is what caught my attention. While it appears to be secure, there is plenty of evidence of previous vines that were unable to stay attached and the remains of their anchors create additional shapes and designs. I felt this told a story of determination, continued growth, and how nature exudes perseverance.
The colors of the leaves in Nascent grabbed my attention from a distance too far away to know what was calling me to them. Being a color-junkie, I was essentially driven to examine the source. Upon arriving at the scene, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was coming from a new growth of leaves. I had never seen such brilliant color in leaves except for those found during the fall at the end of their life cycle. Even the branch they were budding from was a gorgeous red. First, I positioned the camera to maximize the amount of available bokeh. Then I found a composition that limited the hot-spots (areas of bright light falling on the background) while allowing the tallest leaf to stretch toward the sky from the center of the frame. That decision also helped fill the horizontal space. The high level of detail allows surface texture, veins, sharp pointed tips along the edges, and individual hairs to be seen.