Last of the Peonies
Part I

Here are the first 4 shots of some end-of-season white peonies, in which I practised both manual focus on rain drops and remembering to focus/frame/otherwise pay attention to the rest of the shot...to start, 2 fairly conventional looking blossoms at peak, though the end of the season is implied by the flower head to the right, which has lost its petals and stamens.[1]

sony ILCE 7C tamron 70–180mm 1/200s, f/4.5, ev 0, iso 200 focal length 180mm; cropped & scaled to 4000 pixels.

A fresh bloom rises above the majority of flowers weighed by age, rain and petal loss. This is the weakest image of the lot, but I liked the shower of petals on the ground, so I threw it in.

sony ILCE 7C tamron 70–180mm 1/200s, f/2.8, ev -0.3, iso 100 focal length 97mm; cropped, shadows & mid-tone blue lifted a bit;scaled to 4000 pixels.

In keeping with the end of the season, this water-drop laden plant has one bloom that is alas browning and wrinkling, and though many buds hold some promise of more flowers, there are ominous touches of brown on them too, giving the image a rather sad and autumnal flavour (accentuated by the white balance, though I manipulated that some to match what I actually saw). At this point I was starting to get into the groove.

sony ilce7C, 1/500s, f/2.8 ev -1.3, iso 100 focal length 180mm

Having leaned into the reality that my subjects were dying, I looked for more plants with back-lighting and water droplets; and here we have lines of razor sharp drops of water along some of the petals, petaloids, and stamens (though you'll have to click for full-size to see what I mean.) I've gotten water drops before, but not like this. Now I understand all the blathering about full-frame...not to mention that lovely tamron, with a 2.8 aperture along its full extension, and nice bokeh.

sony ILCE 7C tamron 70–180mm 1/200s, f/4.5, ev 0, iso 160 focal length 180mm; cropped, scaled to 4000 pixels.

My favourite of this lot. The peonies featured in the first image of this group are single, the ones in the next two (probably) are doubles, but the last two are almost certainly of the Japanese form, marked by the distinctive, slightly thickened staminodes which mostly encase the pollen (visible only in the very tips as you can see in the picture above).

Sony ILCE 7C tamron 70–180mm 1/200s, f/4.5, ev 0, iso 200 focal length 180mm; cropped square.

Besides having a lot of interest in terms of overall composition (assorted diagonals ftw!), I like the contrast of the barely opened bud, the few remaining petals, and the staminodes scattered amongst the ovaries; in a similar way the focus shifts from blurred, to almost, to, again, razor sharp. The light ranging from opaque to translucent in the white portions is pretty sweet too:) The sepals, stems and exposed ovaries provide mid-range structure, not only literally, but visually, for the petals, popping the flower forward from its dark background.

All images shot 13jun2021 around 7am.

[1]I figured that disk to which the petals, stamens and pistils attached must have its own name, but so far, haven't been able to find it. Ehhhhh, mayyyybe it's called the receptacle? I did discover, however, that peonies are in the ranunculaceous family along with clematis, hellebores and, of course, buttercups.