"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Cool White Irises

Cool White Irises

From Iris: The Classic Bearded Varieties by Claire Austin:

“Over the past century the development of the bearded iris has been tremendous. At the beginning of this period the flowers came in only white, yellow or purple, or occasionally a combination of all three colours. This often resulted in a murky blend of muted shades. Since then, hybridizers have expanded the range into a vast rainbow of colours — and as the number of tones has increased, so has the size of the flower. Because of this, the petals, which once were smooth and delicate in shape, are now of necessity ruffled, fluted and thick in substance….

“The earliest bearded iris hybrids date back to the early 1800s and were raised in the UK and France, from seedlings selected by nurserymen from naturally occurring open-pollinated crosses. It soon became apparent that an incredible number of variations could occur, so by the beginning of the twentieth century, nurseries were embarking seriously on full-blown breeding programmes. As a consequence, the bearded iris rapidly developed beyond all recognition and by the mid-twentieth century hundreds of new plants were being introduced each year.”

From “White Iris” in Thinking of Angels: Poems by Winifred Robins:

A white iris blossom floats
     in the turquoise dish,
its beauty never more apparent,
     its pristine ruffles pure.

Iris clusters vie for space
     across the flower bed
multicolored in their glory.
     The one I clipped today,

before me on the table,
     holds perfection in its petals
and treats my eyes to all the beauty
     they can hold.


On a day forecasted to be the hottest of the year so far — with temperatures expected to rise to the small 100s — I thought it would be nice to assemble and post this collection of soft-white iris photos, originally taken on a shady day. I feel cooler already!

Thanks for taking a look!


  1. They are a lovely colour. I particularly like the cropping in the main image, more satisfying to my eye than getting the whole of the petals within the frame. I can’t say exactly why but somehow the rectangle tames all those curves when their outer edges are outside the frame.

    1. Dale

      Thank you! It’s one of the things I like about photographing irises especially — they have so many fascinating shapes that it’s fun to play around with positioning different ways, and I also like how some of the lines seem to “disappear” outside the frame.

      Thanks for the comment!

    1. Dale

      I agree! Someone needs to invent portable shade! I often think about bringing a reflector with me but then I don’t want to haul the extra gear around.

      I have gotten good results with neutral density filters on sunny days. Even though they aren’t typically used for flower photography, they will reduce excessive light a lot and take the edge off sharp shadows. But nothing works as good as a cloudy day….

      Thanks for commenting!

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