Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge: Macro (Dried Native Hibiscus Petals)

13 October 2014


1. Dried Native Hibiscus Petals; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

1. Dried Native Hibiscus Petal; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Dried Native Hibiscus Petals; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

2. Dried Native Hibiscus Petals; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

3. Dried Native Hibiscus Petals; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

3. Dried Native Hibiscus Petals; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

4. Dried Native Hibiscus Petals; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

4. Dried Native Hibiscus Petal; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Let me know which you prefer and why.

Pens: The tail end of August is the time that native hibiscus bloom and quickly begin to wane. They are ethereal and transparent in the sun, and their short existence makes it imperative to catch them as soon as they open. Their large petals act as a tunnel for hummingbirds and other insects; they simultaneously lure nature and human nature.


Native Hibiscus; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

Native Hibiscus; Copyright © 2014 Sally W. Donatello All Rights Reserved/Lens and Pens by Sally

One of my small passions is gathering and preserving specific flowers. Some passions are on a continuum: scaled with affection and devotion as well as time sensitive in their execution.

As I spied on each hibiscus flowerhead, I began to surmise how they might appear dried.  For decades I’ve admired this floral native, and watched as each blossom disappears in a day’s showing. But I’ve never brought them inside with the sole purpose of air drying them.

As each flower closed, I allowed them to linger as others unfolded and displayed their delicate bold colors and wispy shapes. Then each fell onto the garden floor, where I gathered and placed them gently on a sturdy thick sheet of paper. Then set them on a shelf.

As the petals slowly dehydrated, their original color of orangey red began a glacial change toward deep richly-shaded pinky purple. Suddenly I noticed that they appeared almost black. I was in love.

But something unexpected occurred. The usual five-petal flower, which has huge petals, became close-knit, so close that they clung to each other and became one. They curled and intertwined and reminded me of a swirl. They shrunk to 4″ long x 1″ wide, and continued to spark my attention.

While many flowers are attractive in their spent state, not all keep their eloquence and grace. The hibiscus does, especially under LED lights, which allows color and details to emerge.

In the Lens section are four of my photographs that depict a few of the half-dozen dried hibiscus. Because it is macro week, it took successive photo shoots to accomplish something close to my goal.

The petals were now wrapped around each other, so it made it hard to see the layers of this new twisted form. I decided to slowly peel away a petal. What transpired was an ability to show a small section or a few petals at once.

As light broke through the paper-thin surface, I observed extraordinary designs that are unseen by the human eye. A rich panorama of veins and hues came into view. Lines and shapes intersected and became an abstract canvas. A few of them mimicked the landscape and mountainous forms.

Their once trumpet shape was now tubular, which only added another level of charm, and has me thinking about how much I already miss their presence. As a luscious example of Mother Nature, these beauties benefit from light filtering through their tissue-like petals.

Macro week coerced me to experiment. The result allowed me to feast on the visual abundance provided by the native hibiscus. Instead of composting these flower heads, I was able to enjoy another phase of their existence. My reward is boundless.

Tip of the Week: This week I’d like to introduce you to biker 11, who focuses much of his photographic portfolio on nature’s insects. In the following quote he describes what draws him to a part of nature that is barely seen by our naked eye:

“It’s another world, which can be seen under our feet. We can discover a world of small monsters. Each fly, bee and spider is a perfect predator or a warring victim in this empire. It`s always a big surprise for me to find out how many species, forms and colors exist in this kingdom. I see the things around me a bit differently after each visit in this micro-world…It is best to go out in the early morning around 5 – 5,30 hrs. It must be coolish ( 6-10 C) and dewy. Insects will rise at dawn, with a bit of luck. You need to like and be kind to insects, because I take pictures only with live insects. The most important aspect of macro is light. The secret to good macro is cardinal light. DOF (depth of focus) is very small in macro and so you need to arrange 2 or more pictures to get a good looking shot.” Click here to see his work.

Bee, Biker 11

Bee, Biker 11

View other entries for this week’s challenge:


If you’d like to join the Photo Challenge, please click here for details. If you have any questions, please contact me. Below is a reminder of the monthly schedule with themes for upcoming Photo Challenges:

1st Monday: Nature.

2nd Monday: Macro.

3rd Monday: Black and White.

4th Monday Challenger’s Choice (Pick One: Abstraction, Animals, Architecture, Food Photography, Night Photography, Objects, Portraiture, Still Life, Street Photography, and Travel).

5th Monday: Editing and Processing with Various Apps Using Themes from the Fourth Week.

This entry was posted in Abstraction, Design, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Phoneography and Non-SLR Digital Photo Challenge: Macro (Dried Native Hibiscus Petals)

  1. A tropical magic. Hibiscus are one of my favorites. Colorful, delicate, exotic. They remind me of vacation by the beach and all things happy in the tropics. Thanks.

  2. restlessjo says:

    What an interesting thing to do, Sally 🙂 I’m Algarve bound in a week or so and one of my chief delights out there is the rich variety of hibiscus. We have a pink variety on a tree beside our front door and over in the nearby small park are reds and vibrant yellows. I think I may be playing the observation game too 🙂
    I like the shapes of your first image, which remind me more of caves than a hibiscus.

  3. I love them all but the first for it’s shades of colour and detail stands out for me.

  4. Beautiful Sally. I love the detail in the second image.

  5. Well you certainly don’t cease to amaze me. Who would of thought to do a macro on a hibiscus flower? love the structure of it.

  6. I love the colour and texture of these photographs Sally, no 3 is probably my fave due to the varying shades. Lovely! Here is my entry for macro testing out the new iPhone.

  7. Maria F. says:

    Those colors are fantastic!

  8. Number 4 is my favourite. I love the transparency of the petal. It appears to “glow”. Beautiful subject!

  9. Su Leslie says:

    These are lovely Sally; the colour is beautiful and the shots are so delicate and graceful. Here’s my post:

  10. Aquileana says:

    I nominated you for a Black Blogger Award. You can check out the nomination at the end of this post
    Thank you and best wishes to you, Aquileana 😀

  11. Such beautiful structures and patterns and colour in all these images. I like them all – no favourite this time.

  12. livvy30 says:

    Lovely shots Sally. I especially like the 2nd and 3rd ones. Here’s mine for this week.

  13. I wasn’t aware that you had a native hisbiscus plant in your area.
    Your photographs of the dried flower are highly textural, and the colour use is striking. Photo # 2 seems to sit right with me, and again, this week, probably because the composition suits my preferences. I have tried to find something different for Macro week, but next week I am going back to nature and will try your petal against a lit window trick.

  14. Amy says:

    Thank you for explaining the drying process, fascinating! Beautiful dried hibiscus petals, Sally. I like the second a little more. 🙂

  15. Gallivanta says:

    Lovely colours, and good to see the contrast between the fresh and the dried hibiscus. The fresh hibiscus looks like a dramatic swirling cape.

  16. Angeline M says:

    I absolutely cannot say I have a favorite this week, Sally. They are all so beautiful on their own. I love the veins and withered look. Hopefully we would all age as beautifully.

  17. Wow, Sally this is an amazing series of images! My favorite of the bunch is #4, I like how the balance of light and dark emphasizes the intricate veins and bright hue of the petal.

  18. prior says:

    well I love the first photo the most – the softer focus on the top works well with the bottom – and just enough space in between to take it all in.

    I also enjoyed your writing – I am new here and so this gave me a feel for you and well, you just seem lively and full of life…. and just fun to hear about your experimenting, your passion for color, and love for flowers…
    oh- and I bought some hibiscus tea this summer and it was okay…. not sure how they made it – but I like the variety of teas that are out.

    have a nice week 🙂

  19. ideflex says:

    Tough choice because they’re all lovely but #3 is my fave for the contrast between the dark and light tones of the petals…

  20. Luanne says:

    There are so many things I love about your blog, and I thought I’d mention some of them today. The beautiful photos. The very detailed and specific information. The blend of art and technology/science. Your orderly and creative mind. Thank you for your blog, Sally.

  21. Magnificent collection. What an amazing color makes me want a glass of hibiscus ice tea. The expermentation paid off and my imagination is stimulated; the first one looks like a pink canyon and I see a parrot beak in #3 among other things.
    Happy Monday Challenge


    tough one, they are all lovely. I thought I liked the first the most for its cloud-like drama, but I think upon some musing that number three conveys some secretiveness, as though the viewer is sheltered under a huge purple petal.

  23. Uber colors! The use of the white space in the first image makes it rock for me. Really emphasizes the color and clarity with nice composition.

  24. wisejourney says:

    Number one
    The flash of white draws you in to the sensational deep colour

  25. What fabulous results from your “experiment”! Beautiful. The first one made me imagine standing in the mouth of a cave and looking out at a mountain (don’t ask me, I only put down my first reaction)! The second one made me think of modern medicine and looking internally at veins and the circulatory system! Amazing what thoughts we can conjure up so early in the morning! Great post, Sally! 😀

  26. Sally, your photos bring a new type of beauty to the hibiscus. I like the first picture best. The combination of color, shape, and the non-flower space attract me. But they’re all beautiful.

    Have a week filled with beauty,


  27. LifestyleswithLia says:

    These photos are all gorgeous and I love the deep purple/magenta color in the dried leaves. I agree with the other blogger that the 4th photo looks like a landscape, a mountain range of sorts!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  28. Gorgeous! I simply adore close-ups of nature. The closer we get the more there is to discover!

  29. Dear Sally,
    I like the 4th picture most because of this contrast of light and darkness but set in a harmonious way. It looks a bit like a landscape.
    Lots of love from the wild sea today
    the Fab Four of Cley

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