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

Ireland on the Mind at Christmas

Irish Christmas Spirit

Where would we be without Saint Patrick?  He was a force, to be sure.  A favorite story,  is the landing of his return to the island 432 AD.  The tides on the eastern coast of the Irish Sea can be strong.  His plan was to sail up to coast further north than what we call today Strangford Lough.  On passing this inlet the boat was swept into the lough tidal narrows.  Circumstances called for a landing, rather than wait for the tide.  Patrick came ashore where the Slaney River enter the lough and “quickly converted” the local chieftan, Dichu, who provided a barn for holding services.  The name of the town “Saul” in Irish is Sabhall Phádraig, translated as “Patrick’s Barn.”

IrelandChristmas-1

In this posting I’ll go lighter on descriptions of technique.  Leave it to say I held to the Canon fixed lens EF 50mm f1.2L USM throughout.  Some, like the photograph of Saint Patrick, used a tripod.  Others, like the latter two of the following Irish Themed Cross set were handheld.  Generally a flash was used to supplement ambient sunlight from a large north-facing bay window.

Here the “celtic” cross is converted to an Irish theme through a substitution of a shamrock with golden decoration inspired by pagan neolithic petroglyphs for the nimbus (circle) intersecting the central intersection of arms and stem.

For the first three I played with aperture, taking advantage of the stability of a tripod.  The final two of the set are handheld.

Note the fanciful leprechaun snowman with pot o’ gold, on the left.

Blown glass Irish dancers.

“Travel memories”

Lets’s finish up with a resin cast Santa Claus in hiking garb.  Hiking is a favorite activity of ours.  Featuring a stout staff and Aran Island sweater.

IrelandChristmas-17

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Christmas Angels

Merry Christmas

The angels of our Christmas tree and home remind us of the Jesus birth stories of scripture and the force of love in our own lives.

What comes to mind with the sudden appearance of Gabriel to Mary and that astounding message? Unlike the attempt of Jonah to avoid his calling, the subtext to Mary’s ready acceptance is the risks faced by an affianced woman who becomes pregnant. The book of Deuteronomy (Chapter 22 verses 13 – 21) calls for stoning a woman who presents herself for marriage as a virgin, when she is not.

When learning of Mary’s pregnancy, Joseph’s reaction, as a follower of Mosaic Law, was to divorce her quietly to avoid exposing her to shame. It was a visit from an angel, in a dream, that convinced Joseph to accept Mary (Matthew Chapter 2, verses 18 – 24).

ChristmasAngel-3

An angel visited shepherds, announcing “today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is the Messiah and Lord.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God.” Luke Chapter 2, verses 8 – 13.

ChristmasAngel-1

Was it an angel who warned the Magi, in a dream, not to return to King Herod with news of Jesus (Matthew Chapter 2 Verse 12)? Scriptures clearly state (Matthew Chapter 2 verse 13) “the angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt.”

ChristmasAngel-4

People can be angelic in expressing love for others through action. I am thinking of a movie Pam and I viewed last evening, “The Theory of Everything.” Jane Wilde, in her love for Stephen Hawking, stays with him when, shortly after their romance began, he was diagnosed with ALS. The prognosis was death in two years. In all likelihood, Jane gave Stephen his life and work through loving him. He is alive and working today at 75.

Nested Angel

The love of our parents is more common, no less precious.

ChristmasAngel-7

A note on the photographs, I used a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III dslr with Canon lens EF 50 mm f/1.2L, Canon Speedlite 600Ex-Rt, Manfrotto studio tripod and hydrostatic ball head.  Some of the photographs were hand held.  When the flash was used, it supplemented ambient light from a large north facing bay window.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Christmas Tableau

Cozy Snowmen dance round the candle

My dear wife Pam is the heart of Christmas in our home. Over the years we have collected a treasure of ornaments and knick-knacks she crafts into displays around our one. Pam completed the project well in advance of our grandchild holiday visits, before card writing and gift wrapping.

My contribution is a photographic time capsule. Here is some of my artistic output from this work.

This grouping of five cozy snowmen (three males, two females) are warmly dressed in knit sweaters and stocking caps; the women with long skirts. The five hold hands in a ring, rising from a common platform. We place a cup and devotional candle in the center.

The tiny group evokes community, harmony, amity. I captured them with a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III dslr, a fixed Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L macro lens mounted on a Manfrotto studio tripod and hydrostatic ball head. Fixed lenses provide the sharpest macros. The mounting allowed precise framing and use of the widest aperture and a low ISO. The light sources were sunlight from a large north facing bay window, a Canon Speedlite 600Ex-Rt and the candle. When used, the flash was angled in various ways toward the ceiling.

I start with a tight shot, maximum aperture. A single figure is in clear focus, the remaining gradually lost in the bokeh. The flash was used. I can almost see then circling around the candle in a winter wind.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

Here the candle is lighted, aperture narrow to f8 using only the candle and ambient light (no flash). The group is visible within surrounding figures. I backed away and the viewpoint is higher.

The candle light enhances the perception of community.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

Viewpoint is closer, still only the candle and ambient light. Aperture widened to 3.5. I must remove the hair in lightroom.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

I backed off, aperture at the max with only the candle and ambient light. The figures are placed in a tableau with other snowmen and a structure, a birdhouse.

Cosy Christmas Snowmen

For this overview I swapped in a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II USM with a flash, aperture f2.2.

Christmas Snowman Display
Christmas 2017 snowman display laid out in our den on top of the entertainment cabinet.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Thayer Preserve Suite

recapitulation

On Lick Brook, Thayer Preserve, still pools become mirrors at low flow during a dry autumn.

Click photograph for larger view. Use combination keys to enlarge/reduce: Ctrl+ (Control / Plus) and Ctrl- (Control / Minus)
Click to view my Finger Lakes photographs on Getty.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will

Thayer Preserve: Autumn Still Life 6

still

On Lick Brook, Thayer Preserve, still pools become mirrors at low flow during a dry autumn.

Click photograph for larger view. Use combination keys to enlarge/reduce: Ctrl+ (Control / Plus) and Ctrl- (Control / Minus)
Click to view my Finger Lakes photographs on Getty.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will

Thayer Preserve: Autumn Still Life 5

maple leaves, mostly

Bedrock on which Lick Creek flows, formed 370 million years ago from sediment of a vast inland sea, is a soothing grey-blue backdrop to autumn leaves.

Click photograph for larger view. Use combination keys to enlarge/reduce: Ctrl+ (Control / Plus) and Ctrl- (Control / Minus)
Click to view my Finger Lakes photographs on Getty.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will

Thayer Preserve: Autumn Still Life 4

movement

Maple leaves in varying states of decay.

Click photograph for larger view. Use combination keys to enlarge/reduce: Ctrl+ (Control / Plus) and Ctrl- (Control / Minus)
Click to view my Finger Lakes photographs on Getty.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will

Thayer Preserve: Autumn Still Life 3

on display

Crisp maple leaves among hemlock roots on the bank of Lick Brook, Thayer Preserve

Click photograph for larger view. Use combination keys to enlarge/reduce: Ctrl+ (Control / Plus) and Ctrl- (Control / Minus)
Click to view my Finger Lakes photographs on Getty.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will

Thayer Preserve: Autumn Still Life 2

Hemlock Roots

Crisp maple leaves among hemlock roots on the bank of Lick Brook, Thayer Preserve

Click photograph for larger view. Use combination keys to enlarge/reduce: Ctrl+ (Control / Plus) and Ctrl- (Control / Minus)
Click to view my Finger Lakes photographs on Getty.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Will