I don’t know about you, but I find myself constantly astounded by nature and its many forms. I am always learning new things, even about species I thought I knew intimately. Some discoveries are through reading and research, others via observation. There is often a sense of perfection in nature’s creations, be it symmetry in a flower’s petals or the precision in the whorl of a snail shell. Beauty surrounds us, though many take it for granted. In this post I’d like to share with you some of details that have caught my eye in the past few months, and make an attempt to explain why I love seeking out nature’s naturally perfect patterns & textures.
I have quite a few photos of things that I like but which often don’t get considered as additions to my portfolio. They are personal to me because they evoke certain memories of places visited, people I’ve been with or my feelings at the time I took the image. I think this is true of many photographers and it is of course the case that other pictures simply don’t make the grade.
For this article I’ve revisited a few of those images and taken a selection that fall somewhere in between. I believe that they are good enough and they do have good memories associated with them, but they didn’t meet the criteria for my portfolio because the subjects are slightly unusual, and I suppose I wasn’t sure where to put them. In short, this is all unseen work and something a little different to normal so I really hope that you enjoy them!
I’m going to start with an image that will hopefully get you thinking a little. I’m not going to tell you what it is or where I took it, I want you to see if you can work it out and send me a message either at the bottom of the page or on Twitter (@AHunterPhotos) with your ideas using #perfectpatterns. The first correct guess will have a little something winging their way in no time! The only thing I will mention is the reason I took it: texture and shape!
My next two images are perhaps slightly more familiar. Tree bark is a fascinating thing, there are so many different types and it can have a great many uses. From thin, colourful strips that peel off Eucalyptus trees to thick cork that we cut up to seal bottles, they all have essentially the same purpose: to shield the surprisingly delicate tissues of the tree from the elements.
This first example is from a Lodgepole Pine, sometimes known as the puzzle-bark tree for the way that the bark flakes away in pieces like a jigsaw puzzle.
The second is another pine species though I’m not sure which if I’m honest. I really liked the textures in this and the vibrant coloured lichen adds a softness to the rugged surface.
Trees offer many opportunities for pattern images from colourful autumn leaves to light and shade in the canopy and plants are no different. The next two images are close-up shots of flowers which I hope will get you looking closer next time you’re out and about. First, a Common Spotted Orchid; I just love the patterns on the petals and filling the frame with colour gives a slightly more abstract image.
Next up is an umbellifer which I find particularly pleasing to photograph. The Greater Burnet Saxifrage is neither a Burnet nor a Saxifrage but it does have lovely, sometimes pink, flowers. I took this image because I liked the spacing between the individual florets and by using a large aperture I was able to create a diffuse background and give the feeling that they could be floating in a green sea.
Talking of green, this next image is of a cluster of Sempervivum which I found in a natural rock garden in the Alps. I have always had a bit of a soft spot for these plants and I think it all comes down to the shape; the rosettes are perfectly formed.
My final plant image is a link to another fascination for me and one that I feel I really ought to learn more about: Mosses. They come in such an array of shapes and colours. Here are two growing together and again this photo is all about shape and texture. The paler parts help to highlight the pattern they create.
At this time of year particularly, I enjoy going out looking for fungi to photograph. We are all familiar with the bright red and white patterns on the cap of a Fly Agaric but while I love finding them, I like to look for the more unusual specimens. Recently I found some fantastic and absolutely huge Parasol mushrooms and I took this shot looking straight down at the cap of one of them. It reminds me a little of a dormant volcano with debris from a past eruption littered round its flanks.
Of course patterns are not just limited to the plant world and indeed a great many examples spring to mind that highlight this beautifully – spots on Leopards, colourful feathers on exotic birds, ridges and spirals of seashells. The one I’ve chosen though is butterfly wings.
I couldn’t quite decide which to go for to be honest, the patterning on butterfly wings can be quite exquisite and the colours breath-taking. Instead though, I decided to share a more abstract image again, of a thick cluster of less colourful butterflies. Black Veined Whites are sadly extinct in Britain but thankfully still reasonably plentiful on the continent and although far less colourful than other species, still rather beautiful. I chose this shot because I wanted just to focus on their veining and the textures of their wings.
My final two images are of geological features. The first is one that I’m sure many of us have seen in some fashion; sand patterns. This particular shot was taken where a dark, peaty river had flowed across the beach into the sea and deposited black sediment on its way. The variety of shapes created by water washing over sand never fails to amaze me and this was certainly no exception, it could almost be an aerial photograph of a desert landscape.
Lastly, an image from a place that I found to be quite wonderful. The Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides holds a beauty that I wasn’t really expecting. The stones themselves are full of character and very tactile. This image shows a small part of one stone.
I suspect that this post may divide opinions slightly. Some of you will go away thinking I’m quite crazy and my images are not what you expected. Hopefully others will like what they’ve seen and start to open their eyes to the details in the world around them. Either way, don’t forget to look more closely at nature’s perfect patterns & enjoy their beauty for yourself.