A Brief Interlude with Ranunculus
I am off this week and since we had no spring break trips on the horizon, I took my children to NYC for the day. March can be chilly but as long as it’s dry, New York in March can be mostly pleasant if you avoid the swift winds off the Hudson and the crowds around Times Square.
I love the city -- but even spending an afternoon there can be exhausting. We’d walked about 4 miles from start to finish and at the end of the day, we wandered past a sweet little florist on Grand Street. My kids were less than thrilled that I wanted to go in -- we were all about done at that point but as I peeked through the doors, the florist at the counter motioned me inside and I was sold.
In NJ, where I live, we tend to see more conventional flowers like roses, tulips and calla lilies. I love these flowers but I’ve photographed them all. This florist, Elan Flowers for anyone wondering, had ranunculus, anemones and hellebores. All the stems were perfectly shaped and beautifully colored. If I was wealthy, I would have bought them all but I’m not, so after debating between the ranunculus and the anemone stems, I chose 2 cream ranunculus and added a spray of hellebores. I cradled them as I walked to the car and hoped they’d survive the drive.
If you’ve never seen a Ranunculus, I urge you to look them up. The flowers are as elegant as a ballerina. Their petals, paper thin and delicate, fold tightly around the stamen like a Russian doll. They have an ethereal quality that resembles Truffula trees -- those perfectly round and beautiful trees from the Dr. Seuss book. This trait is what makes them so beautiful to photograph. Each layer of gossamer like petal catches the light before it’s absorbed in the shadows. They are dense and textured, hiding a honeycombed interior. Simply put, they are every photographer’s dream flower.
Just the two stems were all I needed. Like Dahlias, Ranunculus don’t share the limelight well. - they do better alone or in pairs. I think in retrospect, as beautiful as the cream ones were, I should have chosen the pink ones. Cream can be hard to photograph and edit. I love the high key look but it takes work to get them right, especially when I photograph against a white background which can darken to a bluish gray.
I shot them against the four colors I had: white, black, pink and yellow. My personal favorite is the black because it shows off each fold with depth and dimension. I also love the pink because it is modern and different from my other work. I’ll be adding images from all of them to my galleries.
Like the dahlias I’ve shot, these also have an anthropomorphic quality: To some they are flowers. To me, they are young lovers , two friends leaning on each other for support, an old married couple and a woman fading into the background as woman sometimes do.