by The Orchid Enthusiast Team
One of the most exciting experiences of orchid
growers is when their long growing orchids flower.
Perhaps this is the best time to appreciate the
wonderful beauty of orchid flowers and pays off all
the hard work and effort put in before. It can be
equally exciting when orchid lovers found wild
orchids flowering in its natural habitat. Orchid
lovers like to capture orchid photographs for their
personal interest and record. In addition, these
photographs may serve as evidences for orchid
identification. For proper identification, the
photographs have to be of good quality in terms of
resolution and composition. It is not an easy task
to snap a good quality photograph and this may
depend on several factors.
Good positioning of an orchid flower is one of the
first keys for snapping great orchid photographs.
Generally, placing an orchid flower in a 3-quarter
position and slightly below the horizontal line
always provide beautiful angle for photography.
Zygomorphic orchid flower in this position could
clearly exhibit its flower shape, combination of
sepals and petals, and lip (labellum). Nevertheless,
some species may not be at their best from this
angle. Therefore, it is always useful to capture
photographs of a flower from different angles, just
in case. Other angles that may be useful for
identification are such as front and side view of
Out of focus or blur orchid shots is one of the
problems faced by many photographers, especially
when shooting photographs in low light condition or
from very close distance. At times, when the camera
does not have suitable aperture setting, shuttle
speed may need to be significantly decreased to
compensate lighting in dim jungles. With shuttle
speed above 1/15 – 1/8 second, blur photographs
frequency increase sharply due to hand shaking.
During long exposure, pressing the snap button alone
may cause blurriness in captured photographs. In
such cases, a tripod is very useful to support the
camera for long stable exposure. Remote control and
timer function are recommended with a tripod for
stable photograph snapping transition. When tripod
is not available, try supporting the camera on solid
objects such as on a rock or solid wood.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to focus the camera
on the flower in low light condition. This can be
especially frustrating for auto-focus camera users.
Under such condition, try to move the plant to a
brighter place or remove shading on top of the plant
to increase light intensity. Otherwise, artificial
lighting or flash may need to be used. For higher
range cameras, it may be possible to use macro
ring-light that ensure proper lighting of a flower.
By using such lighting, we can actually brighten the
orchid flower but maintain the background dark,
therefore increasing the contrast between the flower
and the background. The flower in the photograph
will appear to be sharp and focus when capture this
Substantial knowledge on orchid is also important.
Specific part/organ of the flower may need to be
referred to for proper identification. For example,
other than the entire flower, the morphology of
staminoid is the key to distinguish Paphiopedilums.
On the other hand, lip morphology is referred to for
identifying Phalaenopsis. Therefore, focusing the
camera at the specific part/organ is important for
identification. Sometimes, this can only be achieved
by using additional macro lens or macro filter
especially when shooting of tiny orchid flower such
as Oberonia spp. Most compact digital cameras also
come with the macro function, where shooting at a
distance of up to as close as 1 cm is possible. To
further amplify the orchid flower, we can also use
microscope in the process. This will help to focus
on one particular part of miniature orchid flowers
such as Oberonia’s lip. But bear in mind that with
increasing magnification, the depth of field will
Amount of exposure time of an orchid flower may also
affect the quality of a photo. This problem normally
occurs when shooting white color flowers. A suitable
exposure time will bring out the structure of a
particular flower. For example, the white hairy lip
and/or the structure of the lip may not appear
properly if the photo is over exposed. Exposure time
is very much dependent on lighting condition of the
flower’s surrounding. Try not to snap an orchid
under direct sunlight but if unavoidable, try using
ND filter to cut off the intensity of light that
enter the camera, increase the shutter speed or
increase F value (i.e. reduce the aperture) that
gives an overall reduction of exposure time. Over
exposure could happen in dim light condition as
well, especially when the flash is being used. To
avoid over exposure, shutter speed and aperture
setting can be manipulated. A better option is to
adjust the flash amount to limit the amount of
light. This adjustment will depend on the distance
between the orchid flower and the camera.
Last but not least, orchid photography is not just
theories but practice as well. The more we practice,
the more we know and grow accustom to it, and the
quality of photographs produced will certainly
improve. Theories could only provide us with some
guidelines for our practice.
Lastly, happy photographing!
Copyright © June 2006 The Orchid Enthusiast Team - www.orchidenthusia.com.