Tag Archives: Orchid

“Showy Lady Slipper – 2018”

“Showy Lady Slipper - 2018”

“The beauty of that June day was almost staggering. After the wet spring, everything that could turn green had outdone itself in greenness and everything that could even dream of blooming or blossoming was in bloom and blossom. The sunlight was a benediction. The breezes were so caressingly soft and intimate on the skin as to be embarrassing.” 
― Dan Simmons

Here we are, freshly into summer. I have found myself longing to get on the trails, to explore the changes the past month has brought. I sought to find the many groves of wildflowers, so familiar to me these past few years. Most of all, a craved the crunch of the ground beneath my boots and the sweet smells and familiar sounds of the forest.

Work has consumed my time, has left me drained and uninspired. I’ve been out walking,  in town, just to clear my mind and then back to the routine. My free time has been spendt simply trying to catch my breath and come down from the non-stop urgency of my job.

As I sat reviewing some of the photos from last year, it became clear to me that I was sacrificing something precious. I was abandoning the very thing that gives me energy and creativity. I was giving up being ‘in’ nature. How I got to this point is simple, it was a slow and steady increase in keeping up with the increasing demands of a job that requires years of acquired knowledge and a great deal of creativity, combined with increasingly tight deadlines. But, I have come to realize, that the pace is only sustainable for so long. I began feeling tired, irritable, and uninspired in other aspects of my life. A few times, I took the time to set up a studio shot or two, grabbed some quick images with my iPhone, but that was it.

As I sat looking at the calendar this past weekend, I realized that it was Orchid time. The brief period in late June when the Showy Lady Slipper Orchids bloom in a local conservation area. I simply had to get out to check on them. So today, I made a point of starting my day early and taking time at lunch to step away from the desk and into the forest. As soon as I stepped off the trailhead and into the forest, the outside world slid away around me and I felt the ‘oneness’ of the trail. Even the clouds of mosquitoes were welcome, though only briefly. I was blessed by a cooler day and a slight breeze, just enough to cool me and disperse the biting insects. Within 20 minutes I stood before these lovely flowers once more. The conditions were perfect and I was able to get the shots I wanted. It’s so good to be back!

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mmm
1/200 sec, f/11.0, ISO 320

For more images like this, please visit my website (images are available for purchase)
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“Trailside Showy Lady Slipper ”

“Trailside Showy Lady Slipper”

“We only know a tiny proportion about the complexity of the natural world. Wherever you look, there are still things we don’t know about and don’t understand. […] There are always new things to find out if you go looking for them.”
― David Attenborough

There are moments in our lives that leave us breathless. For me, one of those moments occurred last year, when I came across this small cluster of Showy Lady Slipper orchids. They are native to my region and seem to be fairly scarce, as I have not seen them anywhere else, but here. The ‘grove’ currently consists of five flowering plants and two non-bloomers, all tightly grouped around a rotting balsam log, right next to a trail. I’m encouraged in that I spotted a few new plants, just in leaf, popping up nearby and I’m hoping this expansion continues.

I wrote about my discover around this time last year and my anxiety that someone might pick them or dig them up before they bloomed. The plants are quite stunning, being almost a half meter tall with large, intricate blossoms. As I photographed them this year, I was dismayed, as someone had picked one of the blossoms and another had been trampled down, likely by the same person, in their quest for the largest flower. Unfortunately, the plants grow quite close to the trail and are easily visible, if you are looking for them.

I’m getting better at picking up on the cycles of these magnificent wildflowers, based on other companion plants, saving me numerous trips back to this locale, which is also a haven for mosquitoes, which hungrily buzzed around me as I squatted low to get my photos. Oh, the joys of nature photography. It’s all worth it for even a single image like this.

One final challenge, bugs aside, is the poor lighting conditions. The orchids grow in a heavily wooded lowland, thick and dark and green. So it’s a real challenge to set white balance. To get the desired details, I also had to push my ISO higher than I like to get good detail. It was also windy, adding unwanted movement and limiting my exposure time. All in all, a good lesson on lighting and adapting camera settings, since I did not want to blow this opportunity to capture a good image. A return trip is unlikely till next weekend.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro 1:1 (272ENII)@90mm
1/15 sec, f/18.0 ISO 1000

for more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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“Shouting Orchid”

“Shouting Orchid”

“Dream delivers us to dream, and there is no end to illusion. Life is like a train of moods like a string of beads, and, as we pass through them, they prove to be many-colored lenses which paint the world their own hue. . . . ”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every now and then, the eye picks up on a pattern and the brain translates it into something familiar. As I reviewed my image of this orchid made a few weeks back, I could not stop seeing a mouth wide open, in a shout or scream. It’s a strange phenomenon, how our brain is programmed to humanize things like this. Or, am I the only one who sees this? I’ll leave it to you to decide.

In any case, I’m pleased with the orchid itself. As I’ve noted before, the deep burgundy, with notes of subtle orange was very difficult to capture and reproduce accurately, since the image is quite dark to start with. As I sat with the original orchid next to my screen, comparing the colour casts and highlights, I was quite pleased at how it turned out, despite it’s gaping mouth.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200mm
1 sec, f/20.0, ISO 400

High Resolution image on 500px:

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‘Three Orchids”

“Three Orchids”

“An elegant behavior, an elegant look, an elegant word, an elegant posture, an elegant idea, they are all moonlight, mysterious and magical, calming and peaceful!”
― Mehmet Murat Ildan

Orchids have a strange fascination for me. They seem almost alien at times, with their bizarre combinations of colours and textures. Yet they are also so mysterious and elegant. The natural world continually outdoes itself in the variations it presents.

These three posed a special problem for me to photograph. They are quite dark but have a faint magenta glow. I spent quite a while getting the light right to capture them accurately, retaining the dark, mysterious feel, while still showing off the glowing edges and bright yellow interior. I’m uncertain of the species but they are quite stunning and I’m happy to have been able to preserve their beauty in this image.

Nikon D800
Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD
 @ 200mm
1 sec, f/20.0, ISO 400

High Resolution image on 500px:

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“Showy Lady’s Slipper” – Secord Forest

"Showy Lady's Slipper" - Secord Forest

“Many collectors died in the process of searching for new species, and despite persistent reports that the men died from drowning, gunshot and knife wounds, snakebite, trampling by cattle, or blows in the head with blunt instruments, it is generally accepted that in each case the primary cause of death was orchid fever.”
― Eric Hansen

Perhaps I got a touch of the aforementioned ‘orchid fever’. I have to admit, I’ve been waiting for this shot for a few weeks now and was thrilled when I came across this beautiful flower, next to a rotting log, in a swampy forest, at Secord Forest this week. Not a new species, but new to me.

Through most seasons, I’ve hiked these trails, enjoyed the wonderfully diverse flora and fauna, and even came across a bear last fall. Along this 4.7km forest trail, there is a section with a wooden sign, designating it as the “Orchid Trail”. This has intrigued me for some time, since I tend to favour these trails in the ‘no-mosquito’ seasons and really had no idea what to look for and when to look for them.

This year has been an exception, I began on the trails just as the snow was melting, hoping to document the natural cycle of this forest through my photos. I was determined that orchids would be on my photographic bucket list and set out learning about them and identifying them. The unfortunate thing with my research was that most books listed blooming season from April to August. That was not much help. So, as I set out each week, I started to look deliberately for plant leaves that fit the description of orchids. I did not even know what species are native to this particular forest and there are several possibilities.

Eventually, a few weeks ago, a few banded leaves emerged from the moist forest floor. Perhaps these were the elusive orchids I sought? Steadily, they grew taller and taller to rise some sixty centimeters (two feet) above the mossy ground. They sure looked like orchids, but they seemed taller than I expected. Back to the books, to find that yes, several species fit the description. More days of just foliage followed, till last week, small green buds formed, offering the promise of flowers. What colour would they be? How long would they last? So many questions, few firm facts.

My weekend plans prevented me from checking back on the buds. What if somebody saw the open flowers on the weekend? The trails are filled with people who may not realize how delicate these plants could be, damage them, and deprive me of my prize.

So, I ventured into the forest at lunch, wondering what state this group of five or six plants would be in. I slowed as I approached, looking for a sign of flower. Then, WOW!, the delicate green plants were topped by the most beautiful pink and white slippers. The mystery plant turned out to be a Showy Lady’s Slipper (cypripedium reginae). I had no idea how large they would be, the blossoms were about 5-8 centimeters (2 inches) long, and perfect. Nobody had disturbed them. I sat on a nearby log for some fifteen minutes just revelling in this wonderful creation, then set out to capture this in photographs, hoping to do them justice, checking and double checking my camera settings, not knowing how long these gems will last or when my next visit might be.

The photo above is the culmination of this quest for orchids. Now I know what to look for, where, and when. During this quest, I also found another interesting orchid, which I am currently researching.

Nikon D800
Nikkor AF 28-70mm f/3.5~F/4.5D
@ 45mm
1/60 sec, f/4.0, ISO 450

For more images like this, please visit my Facebook page:
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or my website (some images available for purchase)
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