“And the wind upon its way whispered the boughs of May, And touched the nodding peony flowers to bid them waken.” (Siegfried Sasson)
I have always admired peonies, but I have never been as excited about their arrival as I was this year. From early May onwards, every time I took a trip to my local supermarket, I was hoping and longing to spot them in the flower aisle. Finally on the 19th of May there they were! My heart was singing with joy as I picked up two bouquets, and I could not wait to get home and to start photographing them.
For the first set of series I decided to get super close to my wonderful subjects and I used my macro lens to capture the finest details of my peonies. I gently showered them to create beautiful water droplets on their petals, making them look like they were caught in the refreshing spring rain.
To add a magical twist to my images I used my Lensbaby OMNI Creative Filter System and my OMNI Colour Expansion Pack. My aim was to make the flowers glow, and to enhance the beauty of the ‘rain drops’. I wanted those to really stand out but without stealing the show.
I absolutely adore using my OMNI crystal wands with my flower photography, as I can create additional colours in my photos. Like this I can achieve dramatic contrasts between my subjects and their surrounding areas.
My macro-peony shots were taken in my little home studio mainly using window light, but for the last photo I added a small lamp as an extra light source, because I really felt like experimenting a bit with ambient light. I have never been particularly fond of artificial lighting, but I always need to take new paths and discover new things to feed my inspiration.
For the second set of images I swapped my 100mm Canon macro lens to my Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens, and I used my Lensbaby OMNI stretch glass to turn my ordinary still life set up into one of a kind images.
I decided to photograph the last series on my balcony, and I placed my lovely bouquet in direct sunlight.
Shooting against harsh light can be challenging, but after spending so much time indoors due to our cold and long winter in the UK, I was very happy to take up on this challenge and leave my home studio behind for a bit.
For these images I carried on using my Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART lens accompanied with my Lensbaby OMNI Seahorse Crystal and Rainbow Filter.
While I was shooting I got even more inspired by the gorgeous beauty of these flowers, so I decided to take an adventure into mythical lands, to see what legends I would find out about peonies.
I came across a story that says, the peony is tied to a nymph named Paeonia. Paeonia is beautiful and she attracts the attention of Apollo, who begins to flirt with her. When Peonia realises that Aphrodite is watching them, she becomes bashful and turns bright red. In her anger, Aphrodite transforms the nymph into a red peony. This is how the peony came to symbolize bashfulness.
I hope you enjoyed this little story and this year’s Peony Season as much as I did!
Peonies are surely one of the most stunning flowers of all, and their beauty creates endless creative opportunities to capture and preserve their magnificent features.
I am a Lensbaby Ambassador, and if you have any questions regarding products and techniques, please feel free to get in touch, as I am always happy to help.