Herbaceous Peony 50 mm

Tree Peony

Peony species (scientific name Paeonia lactiflora) with plants that die back in cold weather to regrow each spring from a tuberous root are called “herbaceous,” from the latin word for grassy. The stems and branches remain soft and pliable, some stiff enough to hold the large, showy flowers. The first varieties introduced to Europe and named 1753 were white, “lactiflora” mean milk-white flower.

Reviewing my photography in preparation for this post I discovered not a single one for herbaceous peony, such was my interest in the woody varieties my in-laws planted around the property. Fortunately, they did not neglect the herbaceous varieties featured here.

These photographs were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV dslr and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens with a “BeFree” Manfrotto tripod with ball head. f-stop was tamped down to the maximum, f16 for this lens. Exposures were taken when the intermittent morning breeze abated.

Click any photograph for a larger view to open in new browser tab.

Paeonia lactiflora, in the family Paeoniaceae, contains around 30 species in Europe, across Asia and in western North America growing wild in scrub and woods, often in rocky places or on cliffs. Most species in Eastern Europe, others in the Caucasus, central Asia, the Himalayas, and Japan, mainly on limestone, and a species in dry parts of California.

Peonies have long been cultivated for their spectactular flowers as well as for their medicinal preoperties, particularily in China

Reference:  “The Botanical Garden” by Phillips and Rix, Volume I (2002, Firefly Books, Buffalo, New York and Willowdale, Ontario

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Woody Peony 50 mm handheld

Tree Peony

See my previous 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 50mm f/1,2L USM lens. I opted for handheld exposures; the morning was absolutely still.

Copyright 2022 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

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 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