Woody Peony 100 mm

Macro series

See my May Woody Peony postings for background on this peony variety.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head.

The morning breezes of May caused me to “up” ISO to 1600 for a faster shutter speed at higher f-stop.

Taking full advantage of the macro lens, the higher ISO helped to maintain sharper focus on the highlighted feature, in this case the stamens.

A gallery of macros with various settings and aspects of the bloom.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Woody Peony Reader Query

“It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Asphodel that Greeny Flower WC Williams

Here is a Sunny Sunday reader assignment. Which handling of this woody peony blossom do you prefer? Please leave your preferences in the comments section with details of your reasoning. Thank you!!

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, new for me as of 2020, and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head. This setup allowed me to fiddle with camera settings, here you see a variation in the width of the shutter diaphragm opening, or F-stop. The smaller the opening (higher F-stop) less light is let through to the image sensor, longer exposure time (allowing the subject to move, as in the morning breeze) offset by greater depth of field, more of which provides sharp focus as the subject elements are further from the lens.

In this first photograph, the F-stop is moderately high. The entire blossom and plant are in focus, the background moderately blurred though still recognizable.

For the second photograph F-stop is low, opening up the shutter diaphragm, allowing more light in for a faster shutter release, less time for the morning breeze to rise up and ruin the shot. The beautiful background blurring, bokeh, is a feature of this 50 mm lens. At the same time, at F/4.0 the shutter diaphragm is not wide open. The blossom is entirely in focus, many plant leaves and the other blossom, to left, are out of focus. This places emphasis on the primary subject of the photograph while providing a feel for the surroundings.

Here are the same photographs, click on one to open a gallery for you to flip back and forth to compare.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Woody Peony, Yellow Still Life 50 mm

Yellow for this last day of May 2021

This yellow woody (also called tree) peony blooms later than our red varieties. The first set of three were photographed May 26, 2021 have unopened buds. Yet, these are early compared to those photographed June 6, 2019 used in the last still life.

These first photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, new for me as of 2020, fitted with a 600EX-RT Speedlite (flash) and the Canon EF 70-300 mm (variable) f/4-5.6L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head.

Our Itoh yellow tree peony has flowers on stalks too slender to hold the heavy blooms upright. The flowers open hidden among thick leaves. Here they are a still life of cut blossoms and leaves. The cultivars of Paeonia, the mouton, or hua wang, king of flowers, are ofe of the classic ornamental genera of China. By the 11th and 12th centuries the center off cultivation was in Sichuan, and there yellow-flowered varieties appeared.

Crossbreeding of yellow-flowered P. delavayi with traditional double-flowered P. suffruticosa cultivars by Victor Lemoine in Nancy, France has led to the introduction of the color yellow into the cultivated double-flowered tree-peonies. These hybrids are known as the Paeonia × lemoinei group. In 1948 horticultulturist Toichi Itoh from Tokyo used pollen from ‘Alice Harding’ to fertilize the herbaceous P. lactiflora ‘Katoden’, which resulted in a new category of peonies, the Itoh or intersectional cultivars. These are herbaceous, have leaves like tree peonies, with many large flowers from late spring to early autumn, and good peony wilt resistance. I am guessing our Yellow Wooden Peony is a type of this hybrid because the long stems are more herbaceous than woody, the heavy flowers droop so the best form to capture them is the still life.

Compare the above two exposures to appreciate the effect of the f-stop and excellent bokeh of the Canon “L” lens.

This still life from the 2019 bloom was taken with a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens used above. Stabilization provided by a Manfrotto 3036 (studio) tripod with the 468MG hydrostatic ball head. That room is bright from large, east-facing windows. Late afternoon light is soaked up by the black velvet backdrop leaving the lemon yellow leaves to shine.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

References
Wikipedia “Paeonia × suffruticosa
Roger Philips and Martyn Rix, “The Botanical Garden, Vol 1, Trees and Shrubs” p 133

Woody Peony 50 mm

An Early Spring for 2021

Spring 2021, though cold, is early. As I write this the peony blooms presented here, photographed May 20, 2021 are seeding, the gorgeous purple magenta petals strewn beneath the woody stems. In my last posting, from Memorial Day 2019, the plant is in full bloom the end of May.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr, new for me as of 2020, and the Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2L USM lens stabilized with the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod with ball head. Color results from the Canon dslr are impressive, the first time the unique purple magenta is accurately represented here. I found a slight under exposure captured the plum – fine burgundy wine nature of this Japanese cultivar, “Shimadaijin,” planted in the 1970’s or 1980’s.

Here is the last unopened bud of this season, enclosed by a calyx of 5 green sepals with reddish highlights . In the wild, woody (also called tree) peonies favored cliffs and scrub of western and central China, eastern Himalayas (southeastern Tibet).

The bud is toward the back, slightly out of focus, of this overview. The woody stems hold the profusion of large flowers each one erect. “Tree” is a misnomer as this plant is a shrub growing mid-thigh high. One of the classic ornamental genera of China, known there as moutan or hua wang “King of Flowers.”

Cultivation in China began in Chekiang in the early 4th century AD. By the early Tang period (circa 700 AD) hundreds of varieties were grown.

Copyright 2021 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

References
Wikipedia “Magenta” color
Roger Philips and Martyn Rix, “The Botanical Garden, Vol 1, Trees and Shrubs” p 133

Woody Peony Series

Effect of f-stop

May 2019 Pam and I visited the New York State historical site of Olana, the former home of Fredrick Church of the Hudson River School of painting. Off the walk was a small planting of flowers, among them a type of “woody” peony in full bloom on Memorial Day weekend, well before the “herbaceous” type that is setting flower buds at that time. These were a striking reddish hue.

On returning home we were pleased to find our own “woody” peonies of the same hue in full bloom as well. On Memorial Day I used the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USB lens and a tripod to capture the following two macros of the flower center with the lens aperture fully open (f 2.8) and at its smallest (f 32).

Question for readers: Which do you prefer, and why?

Click either photograph for a larger version.
f 32
f 2.8
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Early Spring V

Purple vs. White Trillium

Purple Trillium, a different species from the white, present different challenges. The purple blooms tend to dip down toward the ground. White flowers face upward toward the sky. My successful photographs of purple (Click me for another Purple Trillium posting) have the camera lower than the plant, say where there is a bank above the trail.

Shot from beneath, White Trillium project a hopeful air. Here is a comparison of the two species in the environmental and individual treatments.

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Click for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Early Spring IV

exploring Trillium habitat

Trillium as subjects are a continual challenge to find the compelling composition. Click me for another Trillium posting.

This afternoon’s sky was overcast, perfect for photographing wildflowers: clouds thin enough for light to pour through. In the clouds’ shadow there is not enough light for the plant to cast its own distracting shadows. Compare an earlier trillium photograph (click me to go there).

For the following photograph is a study in habitat. At f32, focusing on the trillium, the surroundings are clearly identifiable: several budding Foam Flower heads (Scientific Name: Tiarella), fern, rotting wood, the forest floor hidden by leaf clutter.

I released the shutter (with a 2 second delay) during a break in spring breezes, the overcast lighting bright enough for a speedy 1/8 second exposure. The focus on the opening trillium bloom is just as crisp in this exposure as the next.

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At 4 f-stop, the entire plant is in focus while many habitat elements are a soft blur. An interesting point is the leaf on the left. It is in focus somewhat and is a distraction. This was an issue, in my opinion, for the first photograph.

Click for my “Finger Lakes Memories” Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Another Woody Peony

A handy length of black velvet

By way of personal inventory, our home has two types of woody peonies in different hues. Last posting I gave you red, au natural. Today, you get yellow in a studio setting, back-dropped by black velvet. There is a story behind that long sheet of fabric. Back in the day, a nephew of mine named Chris and I used to hang out together in the Catskills and Adirondacks. Later, I offered to photograph James, his first born. In preparation, I purchased this six foot length of fabric. It served well for that job and, since then, has done double duty as a wintertime cage cover for the parakeet.

This week, I told Pam our yellow wooden peony was in bloom. A largish bush of full leaves that tend to cover the drooping blooms, Pam harvested six blooms to created an arrangement. These “babies” look great against the black velvet.

Yesterday I used the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USB lens and a tripod to capture the following two portraits of Pam’s Yellow Wooden Peony arrangement. In deference to the unanimous reader choice for crisp flower petals the following two versions differ in the crispness of the velvet backdrop.

My timing was fortuitous, last evening the petals started to drop. Pam reports 12 more blossoms are hidden in the bush, so we’ll have at least one more bouquet to enjoy.

Click either photograph for a larger version.
f 5.0 Black Velvet Backdrop
f 7.1 Black Velvet Backdrop
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills