Thursday, August 19, 2010

Capturing orchids at their Optimum



This is a continuation segment of the previous orchid post from our recent Hilo orchid show in Hawaii.  I’m presenting some of my favorite orchids, the truly exotic and frilly varieties and also my best orchid photographs capturing these amazing beauties.

I do have to apologize, for some reason the names I marked down to document all these orchids are not corresponding with the numbered series from my camera (not really sure how this happened) so, what I think I will do instead is discuss some of the unique ways I see, capture and present these orchids at their utmost beauty.


A close up macro of this red Vanda – an unusual color for this species.



One of my favorite ways of photographing orchids is to backlight them, meaning having the sun behind the flowers which then highlights the lighter areas of the flower, making them glow and more translucent. A very effective way of presenting many of the delicate types here including these gorgeous Paphiopedilums. Now you do have to have enough light in the front to capture the details so I would use a higher ISO setting if you have a DSLR camera. If you have a simple point and shoot, then the automatic mode will set the exposure and decide if a flash is necessary.




Another common technique I use regularly is to fill up the frame with your subject and distance them from your background. That way can see more intimate details of these flowers including the petals, stamens and lips. If you can manually crop to the main focus, you will really capture the essence of each particular flower and make your photography stand out like this chartreuse cattleya.





I always strive to capture natural light especially when its very difficult to use flash or have a tripod available in these larger venues unless you are able to access these events separately without the crowds. Again, its better to use a higher ISO setting to allow for dim lighting.





Shooting at aperture mode (AV) allows me to change depth of field and eliminate unwanted background noise which makes the flowers shine. I tend to focus on shallower depth of field to get me closer to the subject and blur the background. I’m not sure if a point and shoot allows for this feature, maybe a macro mode setting might eliminate the background noise. Or in some cameras, there is a flower close up mode that would also work well.





Always try to isolate your subject matter, move around the subject to find the optimum spot where it really looks special (some times the back shot can be more interesting that the front shot ).  I sometimes create a small pinhole opening with one finger to view from so it tries to capture a macro shot without using the camera and giving you a quick impression.






Go on in and get those macro shots, in both DSLR’s and point and shoot cameras, there are macro modes that will allow you to get in closer and capture those really close up details and make them look crisp. Go for a focus detail or try an abstract macro.




On that note, I always try to minimize the background especially for detailed shots, I will look for solid and non-busy backgrounds, black for me is ideal.  If you can isolate the orchid or even move it to a more ideal background, then do so. (at least if someone will allow you to do this)




Look for something unique or really outstanding flowers that you haven’t seen before and spend more time looking at them and seeing what the best angles are to capture them in photo. Beautiful blue/purple tones always draw me into these striking Brassavolas.




Have fun and talk to these growers/exhibitors and try to learn more about a certain species that you are attracted to and document this information. Do try to make sure your photo matches the number shot of your camera.  Last, try to let your camera tell a story about this special orchid, it should do just that if you spend time and enjoy these voluptuous beauties.






Spend the time to see the subject at different levels, from the top, or the bottom or the side Look at the lighting coming from different angles to your subject. You will come up with many more interesting compositions and present a more dynamic photograph.




Go for the environment photo, so it also tells you the story of the show. This will tend to be a larger shot with a smaller aperture or in point and shoot normal view with little zoom. You want to capture and tell the story of this wonderful event. Just make sure to fill in the frame and take out all the un-necessary background.




I hope that these tips help in you in capturing better flower photographs, these are my tried and true concepts that I have learned from others and works best for me.  Go out in your garden today and take a few with these thoughts in mind.


To visit other gardens today go visit

To see other posts for fertilizer friday  go and visit


Unknown said...

It looked like you were shooting inside a studio as nothing appears in the backgrounds. Very nicely done.

lotusleaf said...

Lovely photos. Thanks for all the tips. I can never eliminate the background with my point and shoot.

Steve Asbell said...

Wow, those are amazing photos, especially the... well they're all awesome, but I really like the yellow one.

Floridagirl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Floridagirl said...

Wow, beautiful photographs! The blooms seem to appear 3D. Very nice. Love those beautiful specimens. That red vanda is stunning, and the lady! And that chartreuse with the deep purple lip...beautiful! Those are definitely ones you would only see at a show. I have to get to a show soon! I have a lot of those features on my digital point-and-shoot. It has a few extra bells and whistles, including manual focus, ISO, etc., but I am afraid to try them out. I have mastered the macro feature, though. Maybe I'll get the courage to try some of your tips.

africanaussie said...

absolutely georgous, every single one!

Roberto Machado Alves said...

Very beautiful orchids and various colors. This post is likeable.

Cheerings from Roberto

Digital Flower Pictures said...

Very Nice photos. I love Vandas so the first is my favorite. It has a nice color.

Since memory cards are cheap these days I usually photograph the tag with the plant. This has saved me a tremendous amount of aggravation (no more little slips of paper to deal with).

Unknown said...

Hi Noel
Lovely flowers - I love orchids - and fantastic shots. Great tips too.

Happy weekend, Ev

deb said...

Thanks for all the tips!

klaraau01 said...

Stunning orchids and thank you for all the tips!

Autumn Belle said...

Lovely photos of gorgeous voluptuous orchids. Love all of them. Have a great weekend!

Elizabeth Barrow said...

Your pictures are always so beautiful. Thanks for the tips -- I doubt I'll live up to them though.

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK Real Estate Info For the Sandwich Generation said...

Oh how beautiful. My parents lived in Hawaii for several years and this brought back such delightful family memories.

Beth said...

Noel, These are stunning photos - beautiful flowers, beautifully captured. You are a skilled photographer. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. Have a great weekend in paradise!

walk2write said...

I still have a lot to learn about photography. Thanks for the tips and for sharing the wonderful pics you've taken. You know, it's funny to think about "background noise" in a visual image.

Anonymous said...

thank you Noel, there is some really good and inspiring advice here, i was wondering are you using a macrolens for all these photos?

Noel Morata said...

hazeltree, i'm only using my 55mm lens and using a shallow depth of field, usually f4.0 to 5.6.

Mª Zélia said...

Querido Noel, você nos proporciona agradáveis momentos ao postar tão magníficas fotos! As orquídeas são sempre maravilhosas, sua beleza se acentua quando podemos admirá-las bem de perto, em fotos macro, valorizando suas formas e cores. Vou procurar seguir suas dicas, para mim um valoroso ensinamento!
Um grande abraço!

Amy said...

Thank you for sharing your great photo tips. Your photos are beautiful! I love the ones with the backlight. I never thought I would enjoy taking photos as much as I do. I'll try your tips!

Noelle Johnson said...

Hello Noel,

I always knew you were a talented photographer :-)

The orchids make such a beautiful subject for you to photograph. It always amazes me to see orchids growing outdoors, instead of on a windowsill.

Suzy said...

They are such gorgeous flowers. I am always thrilled when my windowsill orchids bloom. Love the last shot. said...


Iam reading your post and looking at your photos...simply greats!!!!

giorno26 ¸¸.•*¨*•. said...

I fiori delle Hawaiii sono unici al mondo !!!
Belle foto :-)))

Terra Mirabilis said...

Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!

Jan Johnsen said...

Noel - I just returned from Hawaii and posted some photos on my blog..I made sure to tell all to see your lovely blog...

I inserted a link to you in today's blog post - go look!

Kimberly said...

Noel, that green and purple macro takes my breath away! Really amazing flower and shot! I like the way you described your skill and the various settings. Very informative!! (and beautiful!!)

Ellada said...

Aloha Noel
Great pictures. Bravo.

Tootsie said...

I have never grown an orchid. To be honest they intimidate me! lol
Yours certainly are gorgeous! thanks for linking in to share them with us this week. I hope you see you again soon!

Unknown said...

Those are some beautiful plants and flowers. Thank you for the post. I really love Hawaii and am looking into Hawaii real estate properties because I want to live there. Hopefully I can be immersed in all the beauty that Hawaii has to offer sooner than later.

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