A fellow blogger at Lemony Shots has recently posted some beautiful images of Peonies in white, pink, and in black and white. I too admire Peonies and have also posted images in both pink and in white. This morning, before a bit of rain, Joanna reminded me the peonies were out and that I had better seize the opportunity before a deluge might strip away their petals. Joanna knows best, so I grabbed the camera and tripod and spent the next little while wading through her garden. I often wonder how my mind works as I compose each shot. I have said previously that I shudder to think that my photographic skills had plateaued at a level characterized by an ability to take a good snap shot. To advance my understanding of Adobe Lightroom I have subscribed to a series of videos produced by French photographer, Serge Ramelli. It was through these that I discovered 500px, a global platform for photographers to display their work. I have surfed here many times in an effort to train myself to recognize what, in my opinion, makes for a good photo. Look, let’s agree that it’s pretty easy to push the shutter release. What’s difficult, however, is to create photographic art. Subject matter and composition are critical, and then there are the technical matters of capturing the shot and of post-processing that can either make or break a potentially beautiful image. But I digress. I took a minute, while standing in Joanna’s garden, to think about how to present these colorful flowers to you. Surely it would have been a simple matter to point and shoot, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted an image that would appeal, in terms of color, texture, and visual interest. The line between abstraction and just-another-pretty-picture can be quite fine. Too close and although the photo has interest, in terms of texture and emotion, it may be difficult to determine that the photo actually depicts a flower. Too distant and the bloom may become overwhelmed by the background. But, just like Goldilocks’ bowls of porridge, chairs, and beds, there is a distance which, to my eye, is just right. I hope you will agree.

14 thoughts on “Peony

  1. Hi, Dave! I’m really late getting here! Wow, such lovely images! Really beautiful, each one. I could gobble them up. 🙂 They’re positively delicious! Spectacular detail, color, and compositions. Thank you so much for your link to my blog, too, and your nice words – so very kind!

  2. Well Goldilocks picked the perfect size, and I love your choice of distance and framing. These feel intimate and inviting, showing off the peonies exuberant beauty wonderfully. I especially love the first shot of the frilly skirts. It sounds as though you’ve been working hard on your photographic skills David and it’s paying off. Very lovely images of Joanna’s lovely flowers. Sadly my own peonies have struggled this year, I divided them and cleared out some tree saplings which had taken root, but then we were hit by a late frost. I’m hoping they will come away again next year. For this reason I’m loving your dose of their beauty 🙂

    • Late frost! I’m so sorry. We were down to 39F (4C) overnight yesterday and Joanna was worried. By the way … I’ve really been enjoying the series of ‘nature appreciation’ posts that you’ve been generating. The last one got me thinking and I’ve included some of your insights in the post I’m currently working on (with appropriate links to you and breathofgreenair, of course). D

  3. It always strikes me, the contrast between a photo and seeing things in person. The latter captures an object, as is, and or only the briefest of times. Once rendered, the memory immediately begins to change; details and circumstances often get altered subconsciously. Often they are just lost; forgotten. But a photograph is another thing. You get the chance to capture the essence in several ways and, in so doing, to preserve something close to the Platonic form for all time. I often think of how wonderful it would have been if photography had been developed so much earlier. Today, we only have damaged artifacts, often devoid of context, as well as art images – all of which were rendered through the biases of the day. It would be so good if we had access to a few photographic images that could help us reconstruct the past in a way that was less prone to the observer’s bias. Timing can be so different – the Peonies in my backyard have not yet made their appearance. I would guess it will be around the first week of July before we get the treat you just had.

    • Yes indeed. And, what about access to a Time Machine? I’d like to take my camera back … just once … the only difficulty being which particular time to go back to. Where and when would you go? I think I’d like to back to the age of the dinosaur to photograph some of the feathered sorts! D

  4. A very interesting analysis! (My favorites is the image to the right, on the top). An image makes some story to emerge in the mind of the viewer. If it is a macro shot a puzzle must be solved (What is this?), but it might need too much “creative energy” or detective work on behalf of the viewer. If you see too much it is too “obvious” – you cannot make up any of the surroundings of the item on the photo by yourself. I wonder if the same is true for writers trying to describe a character in too much or not enough detail.

    • Hmmm … your last consideration is interesting … the difference between photographers and writers … perhaps M will chime in? Thanks Elke for your always thoughtful observations.

    • Ha! Thanks. By turning off your comments section (and, I can understand that you don’t want the responsibility of getting back to so many folks) you have deprived me of the opportunity to tell you how nice your photos have been recently. I’m enjoying ALL of them. D

        • I’ve been thinking about the idea of the line between realism and abstraction in photographs that you suggest here. Anybody can shoot a technically good, focused photograph of a flower. You’ve described the approach that makes a photograph singularly your own. The essential element of interpretation. The line between recording a subject for the record and creating your vision of the subject. When we are able to do that, regardless of the result, the photograph is successful. A photograph, like a painting, should reveal something: who we are, how we see the world, and our relationship to it, etc. It is most successful when it conveys our vision to others. Informs a subject in ways they hadn’t thought of before. Delights them. Surprises. Changes the way in which they think about the subject. That’s what I think we try to do in our photography. Any skills that we can develop to help us to do that make us better at our craft. 🙂 Great links. I have an account at 500px simply because I enjoy the work there very much. Phenomenal photography! 🙂

          • I’m gonna read, and read, and reread this George because you have said so very well, in ways which I could not express myself, what it is to create art with a camera. Bravo … and very good for you. You are so much wiser than I. D

  5. WOW! You are certainly refining your technique! You are obviously paying attention to those french videos! The clarity is amazing! My favorite is the first one. The center clarity fading to blur is exquisite. This one may be in the running for an enlargement! My peonies are still about a week behind you. Can’t wait to bring some inside to perfume my house!

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