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A rush of colors in this series of Dahlia flowers, taken in a garden (not mine) in Marina del Rey, CA. Nearly all were photographed shortly after dawn before the sun cleared a nearby house.

Part of my inspiration was from Robert Mapplethorpe and his mid- and later work, primarily his flowers series, his portraits, and his "Black Males" and "X" work. He said he was always pushing to find absolute natural perfection, to create something absolutely flawless from the natural world. That goal is impossible, for nothing in nature is perfection, he noted. I find myself aiming, in part, for a similar place: absolute natural perfection, knowing I can never reach it.

Mapplethorpe shot in the studio. I had the additional challenges of photographing in a very exposed outdoor location and being limited to the edges of the garden. I used either a 50mm or a 70-300mm lens on a tripod. Small natural flaws (blemishes, bug holes), along with some cropping and modest enhancements, were edited in post-production. Thanks to John Connor for his garden.