April 22. 2010 A few weeks ago, I attended the “Picture Perfect” weekend at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. The program included several photo workshops and gear demonstrations. After the workshop concluded, I wandered over to the Orchid Conservatory and collected some new images.
The conservatory is great location for photographs. In the first place, it is filled with exotic, colorful flowers, most of which you won’t see in the average garden. So the conservatory offers up an almost unlimited array of vivid subjects.
Beyond that, the lighting at the DSBG Conservatory is fantastic. There is glass in nearly every direction, and the resulting shadow-free light can turn an ordinary snapshot into a portfolio photo.
Finally, because you are indoors, there is no breeze to disturb the leaves and petals. Don’t get me wrong, I love taking my Sony Alpha dSLR outdoors and capturing nature photos. But when you are trying to capture razor sharp close-ups, any kind of breeze becomes a frustration. You get the composition just right, then a cats paw comes up and shifts your subject around.
Inside a conservatory, there are no sudden gusts, so the flowers remain stationary while you arrange your shot. You can take all the time you need to set up your image, confident that the focus and composition won’t change.
I put together a gallery of my best images from the DSBG Orchid Conservatory. While there was plenty of light to shoot hand-held, I used a tripod for the bulk of the shooting that day. Because my subjects were unlikely to move, placing the camera on a tripod allowed me to set critical focus knowing I wouldn’t shift the lens toward or away from the flowers.
Although I used a wide-ange lens to capture some establishing shots, photographing orchids is work for long lenses. I used the Minolta 70-210 f/4 “beercan” for the majority of my gallery images. The beercan features a close-focusing mode, as well as wonderful bokeh in the out of focus areas.
I’m pretty happy with my results. If there is an indoor conservatory in your area, grab a tripod, your camera and some long, close-focusing lenses. If it is anything liker the Daniel Stowe Conservatory, you will come away with some great photos!