Growing up, I recall avoiding the Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) as I walked to and from the Carolina’s various beaches. The dried, spiked seed-heads were almost as painful as the dreaded sandspur when stepped on with bare feet! But now, I more appreciate their beauty and genetic diversity. I’m considering planting them near my water garden.
These specimens are from my recent vacation to Ocean Isle Beach. I decided to try a monochrome version of the the first composition above. I brought down the luminosity of oranges and reds to get an acceptable range of tonality mostly on the left flower, from the petal’s red base, out to the yellow tip. I also lowered the luminosity of the greens to give the flowers a little more prominence. I actually like this version as much as the color.
These images are best experienced by clicking on the image to view a high resolution version from my portfolio site. Especially seeing the small spider on the left flower in the first two, and the bumble bee in the last.
Part two of this series continues my visual study of this grand Garnet Japanese Maple specimen at Greensboro Arboritum. The color variability in this cultivar (which stands for cultivated variety) is quite striking. As shown in the composition below, I found sections of the tree where color varied widely in a small contained area. This could happen even at a sub-branch level.
Conversely, other sections appear more uniform in display of color over a much larger area (see below). As mentioned in my earlier post, the Garnet is of the Acer Palmatum form know as dissectum. The beauty and drama in the dissectums comes from their deeply divided “toothed” leaf lobes and branching structures.
The interior view below features the beautiful branching structure of this stately old specimen. As such, mature dissectums are also prized for their dramatic winter branching silhouette. Back in the spring of 2016, I was inspired by a dissectum at the Biltmore Estate to research, write and post about the amazing branching structures found in nature – An Elegant, Intelligent Design.
As part of this study, I experimented with some extreme processing techniques and filtering to achieve an abstract feel. The composition below was processed in Filter Forge 7.0.
Despite the dramatic color available in my compositions, I wanted to try to display the tree’s features using black and white tonality. I experimented with several luminescence settings in the reds, yellows and greens. A slight bump in red luminosity and a moderate bump in the greens seemed to promote a broader range to foliage tonality. I found it particularly challenging to maintain the a range of tonality in the lighter tones. I’m tempted to look at it again tomorrow.
The final image is another dramatic styling approach applied to a “busy” image. This “styled” process includes some pen strokes along edges, which helps a little in defining the foliage. But, its still quite busy!
I appreciate you taking time to visit my blog. These compositions are best viewed by clicking on the image to see a high resolution version from my portfolio site. Hope folks had a lovely Thanksgiving.
Back in 2001, I built a Japanese water garden in my backyard. During the planning phase, I quickly became a fan of Japan Maples, Acer palmatum. This fall, I was determined to capture the spectacular colors on display at Arboretum Park in Greensboro, as well as my own backyard. This first post features a gorgeous Garnet cultivar at the park. I stalked this tree, which I estimate to be close to 100 years old, for several weeks; waiting for the leaves to reach their peak color.
The Garnet cultivar featured in this post is of the dissectum or “lace leaf” form, which are commonly featured as accent planting or specimen plantings. Named after its gemstone like deep reddish orange spring color, the Garnet originated in a Dutch nursery and is known for its larger dissectum leaves. Of course, its also well known for the breathtaking display of fall color.
Like us, Japanese maples are especially appreciated for their uniqueness. Popular cultivars like the Garnet, have been carefully propagated through decades, and even centuries, of various grafting techniques.
Thanks for stopping by today! I have more lovely Acer palmatum photos to share in upcoming posts. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.
For the past several weeks, I’ve enjoyed the sunflower plantings on my route to work each day. Last week I decided to stop and capture these wonderful flowers in their morning glory. This post, and the next, feature several different visual approaches along with some very interesting tidbits about the common sunflower (Helianthus annuus).
Each plant will typically bears one or more large, wide flower heads (capitula). The flower head is actually a compound flower. The outside consist of bright yellow ray florets, while the inside disc contains yellow orange disc florets. In the photo above and below, you can see at the center, the zone of unopened disc floret buds. Just outside the unopened zone, you can see the next zone of new disc florets in their male pollen phase. Here is where the bumble bees are most active. After a few days, the disc florets enter their female phase. They extend in the third zone out to the edges of the flower disk.
When the flower blooms, all the disc florets are unopened, tiny buds. The disc florets first open in their male phase on the outside of the disc. Over several days, the male phase disc florets seem to move as a wave towards the disc center. During the growing period, sunflowers will tilt during the day to track the sun. As the flower begins to bloom, this tracking will stop. Once the flower matures, they will generally face the east. I was amazed when I read about this. My route to work runs from east to west; so I really noticed these east facing flowers in the morning as I traveled west.
One of the most fascinating features of the sunflower is the method in which the disc head uses to disperse disc florets. From the center of the disc, a mathematically brilliant spiral technique packs the maximum number of disc floret buds across the surface area of the disc head. This spiral is known as the Fibonacci Spiral, which in turn is based on the Fibonacci Sequence. I wrote about this in my An Elegant, Intelligent Designpost. Perhaps I’ll discuss it in more detail in the second part of this post.
This series was shot with my Nikon 28mm – 300mm lens, using manual focus. Several times, I had to slightly lean back when I reached the minimum close up focus point. Perhaps I’ll try renting a macro lens in the future. I appreciate you stopping by today. For the best viewing experience, click on an image to see a high resolution version.
Last month’s visit to Mt LeConte was my first hike on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains. It had also been a long time since previously experiencing Southern Appalachia at 5,000 ft. above sea level. This post includes notable scenery from the Alum Cave Trail.
In the last mile or so of our hike to Mt LeConte Lodge, we reached an elevation of 6,000 ft. This is about the time we started noticing the Mountain Ash trees, which were full of large clusters of reddish orange berries. Veterans I was hiking with mentioned it was rare to see the Ash berries so profusely displayed. We also began side-stepping ash berry laden bear scat on the trail. The ash berries appeared to be quite the bear treat. I heard later local mountaineers will gather ash berries, sweetened just after the first frost, to make pie filling.
After dinner Friday evening, I hiked up to the Cliff Top area to stakeout a spot to capture the pending sunset. In addition to the polarizer I used for the Alum Cave shots, this was the next opportunity for me to try my new 150mm hard graduated ND filter. I was hoping for a little more cloud drama, but was pleased with how the filter brought the sky portion down 3 stops to closer match the landscape.
Saturday morning I hiked up to Myrtle Point to catch the sun rise. I hit a soft spot on the outward edge of the trail and immediately dropped about 4.5 ft., landing on the ball of my right foot, facing the trail. Luckily, I didn’t break my foot or damage my camera. After breakfast though, it was a long and painful hike back down the mountain; 2,500 ft. over 5.5 miles! The last two miles were relatively flat, but also the most difficult; my foot and knees were about worn-out. Along this stretch, I did stop to rest, and capture a very interesting root structure just above the Styx Branch creek bed.
Thanks for stopping by today! Click on an image to see a higher resolution version from my portfolio site.
Recently, I’ve given a lot of thought to the natural structure of trees (see On Wood on Wood) and how this pattern is repeated throughout nature. After capturing these images last week of century old Japanese maples at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, curiously I began to look online for an explanation on this natural phenomenon. What I found is utterly fascinating! I hope you will read on, and be inspired as you learn a little more about the elegant, intelligent design blueprint found in nature.
After a moderate amount of digging, two primary explainations emerged – Fractal Geometry and the Fibonacci Sequence or Golden Mean. The later will have to be discussed in a later post.
Fractal geometry emerged 100 years ago as mathematicians struggled with formulas which described and visualized a curve. A the time Georg Cantor and Helge von Koch offered formulas which visualized how self-simulation (extending a basic structure by repeating itself, each time on a smaller scale) is used to create infinitely complex branching structures. During WW1, Gaston Julia would apply a feedback loop to a simple formula to create an even more complex set of numbers, the Julia Set. Unfortunately, the huge amount of numbers was too complex to visualize. Enter Benoit Mandelbrot in the 1980s.
While working at IBM, Mandelbrot made further mathematical refinements to the Julia Set and applied the emerging power of computers to iterate his equations millions of times. The results were then applied to a visual graph. Thus the Mandelbrot Set and fractal geometry was widely introduced to the world. Suddenly, we had a new tool to see previously hidden structures reoccurring over and over again, throughout the natural world and the heavens above.
We can see fractals in the systems which distribute life sustaining resources – circulatory, respiratory, neural and renal systems; and, in clouds, steams, rivers and lightening As life grows, Nature uses a simple fractal code to instruct biological networks how and when to branch. There’s beauty not only in the visual aspects of the branching tree images in this post, but also in knowing there is a natural order (albeit mathematically) underlying our perceived chaos. Spiritually, there seems to be something going on here. Perhaps this supports the case for God’s hand in the world – an elegant, intelligent design.
Bear Island is a short ferry ride from the launch at Hammock’s Beach State Park in Swansboro, North Carolina. It’s also part of the Boque Banks, just south of the better known Outer Banks. The ferry approaches the mainland side of the island through a vast estuarial marsh. A 3/4 mile trek to the seaward side of the island takes you through dense scrubs and tall dunes. Along the way I came across a beautiful windswept live oak tree. A cold front brought large dramatic, thick cloud formations. With all the beauty and drama already in place, a group of passing pelicans added a nice touch to an already spectacular image.
Northeast of the park, the historic White Oak River empties into the Atlantic. Visiting the area last weekend with my Scout Troop, we camped at Cedar Point Campgrounds near wetlands at the mouth of the river. I captured the image below the in the marshes just behind our camp area. The trees offered an interesting shape with contrasting limbs and trunks against a dense backdrop of pine, undergrowth and grasses. Careful processing of the tone curve created a nice extended range of tones. Larger versions of the images can been seen on my portfolio site by selecting the image.