Kate and I like to have flowers in the house. We’ve gone through phases – tulips, ranunculus, roses of course, and a gerber daisy period – but I think peonies are our all-time favorite. I know next to nothing about flowers, but I do know what I like. And I like the fullness and texture of peonies as they are just starting to open. They smell amazing and if you cup one gently in your hand it’s almost the size of a baseball. My mother planted and tended a huge number of peonies when I was a kid and I have a strong memory of ants being attracted to the heavy flowering buds. So there’s probably a nostalgia factor there as well.
When Kate’s “get well” flowers started dying, I set out on the hunt for peonies here in Brooklyn. Most of our local bodegas sell flowers, but while the price is right, the selection tends to be substandard. We always keep an eye out for good stuff and it took me three days to acquire these 6 specimens. I found them them at a random grocery store in Dumbo as I was walking home from an event. I actually spotted them from across the street. A couple of the buds were already opening up, but the other four were still closed. I knew we would get a good week or so out of them and they haven’t disappointed. Every single day both of us have remarked with wonder, “Oh my god, have you seen the peonies today?”
Over the last week, we’ve taken more a dozen cellphone pics and a handful of DSLR pictures of this batch. Kate’s instagrammed them and I’ve tweeted them. You could almost say we’ve been obsessed.
Yesterday morning I slipped right over the border of “almost obsessed” and into “officially obsessed” country. I grabbed the Hasselblad, loaded it with Fuji Neopan Acros 100 film, and screwed it onto the tripod. Then I spent the next 30 minutes shooting the entire roll of 12 exposures on this vase of peonies. I removed everything from my desk and placed them in front of my hand-painted background. I styled them. Then I developed the roll, waited for it to dry, and impatiently scanned the negatives. All told, I spent an hour and a half with this vase of flowers.
Was it worth it? Definitely.
With these few images, I can finally rest easy and leave the poor flowers alone.
Technical details: I developed the Hasselblad images in Kodak Xtol developer for 8 minutes at 20C. Xtol is my favorite developer for Acros.