Sunday, October 28, 2012

NATURE MACRO: CONVENTIONAL VS. ABSTRACT

Whenever I take my camera to the Mitchell Domes, I see lots of other visitors taking pictures also.  I have the feeling, though, that the pictures they wind up with are generally very different from the ones I come away with.  A lot of what I see others taking are photos of larger displays (as well as, of course, of fellow visitors).  I have never had success taking such displays.  They always come through as too mundane.

I also see others taking photos of individual flowers.  Not that I never take such photos, as shown here from my last couple of visits to the Domes.


I liked this first shot because of the background lighting (except for the minor flare just above the flower) and because of the way the stem fades into the dark of the lower background.  This flower, by the way, was only about 1/2 inch across.


Peace lilies are plentiful in the tropical dome.  I liked this one because the petal portion was nicely perpendicular to the large stamen (or whatever it's called) and the background was dark and nondistracting.  As a result, I was able to narrow the aperture (f/16) to maintain good focus for the entire flower.  Because the petal was so uniformly well-lit, it was difficult in post processing to bring out the petal's texture.


The above small (2-3 inches across) orchid was complex and interesting, but I found it very difficult to capture.  Just too much going on.

I guess you could call the following shot traditional in the sense that it captures all of the business portion of the plant.


A close look at this shot reveals hundreds of tiny, sticky globules on the leaves that I believe are intended to capture unsuspecting insects.  OK, so maybe this shot isn't exactly traditional.  But the following are even less mainstream.

I liked the following leaf because of the juxtaposition of very different colors that it included.


I also noticed a number of curly-cued vines on some of the plants, particularly in the desert dome.  In the following shot, I thought there was some interest in a vine crossing in front of plant stem.


The bottom portion of the vine was heading away from the camera and is out of focus, despite the lens's relatively narrow f/11 aperture.   There are distracting elements in the lower right that I was not able to eliminate without more work than I was willing to do.

Here is a traditional flower (OK, a portion of the flower) that I thought was interesting because of the petal that was curled up next to the center section of the blossom.


Because I was interested in the curled petal, I didn't want to include the whole floweras I thought the feature of interest might get lost in a larger image.  Besides, enough of the flower is shown that the viewer would not have any problem in extrapolating the rest.

Here is a portion of a petal of one of the orchids in the tropical dome.


I didn't think this shot worked very well.  My goal was to focus on the front edge of the petal and to allow the remainder to fall out of focus.  I wanted to feature the petal's complexity.  However, there just wasn't enough contrast to give balance to the overall composition.

The domes include a number of large-leafed plants, some of which can be nicely backlit by the sun.  Here is one of those leaves.


I set this shot to have the rib run on an angle and to have that balanced by the large brown splotch in the upper right.  Great Halloween colors.

I also found myself attracted by the following unassuming plant that had no blossoms but did have some interesting texture and colors in its leaves.  I wound up taking a large number of shots trying to capture those colors.  Here are a few.



And here is a close-up of one of the leaves that I liked because of its curled edges.


I really liked the rose color of the leaf next to the curl on the left.

One would have to admit that this collection of images is quite different from what most of the Domes' visitors would come away with.  As I have said before, particularly in macro photography, I find myself attracted to abstract patterns that are, nevertheless, recognizable (intelligible) at some level.  In part, this stems from the fact that I am not very skilled at capturing larger scenes without them looking very cliched.  Also, I am always trying to satisfy a need for artistic expression--or at least my notion of what might be artistic.

Taken with my Nikon D7000 with Tamron 90mm macro lens.

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