Tag Archives: Books

Our orchid photographs

I took my first photographs of native orchids in February 2005 at a monthly general meeting of the Native Orchid Society of South Australia (NOSSA).  Orchid growers bring their flowering plants to the monthly meetings to show them and to compete for the best orchids.

2005 Feb 017

This is one of my first photographs of an orchid taken with
a digital camera without a flash in February 2005.  This is a Sarcochilus hybrid.

My aim at the start was quite simple.  I just wanted to get to know the names of the orchids, because I did not know any of them at all.  Three of my photographs from the February meeting turned up in the electronic version of the March NOSSA Journal, including the one above.

In the March 2006 issue of the Journal, because there were few plants at the meeting to photograph, the Editor compiled a page of photographs of orchid leaves which I had taken on a field trip to Scott Conservation Park the previous winter.  Some of these same photographs appear in my book, Start with the Leaves, including the two of the photographs on the front cover.  One couple told me that they took this page with them into the field to identify orchids before they flowered.

Leporella fimbriata 005

This beautiful, newly emerged leaf of Leporella fimbriata is one of my first orchid
photographs taken in the field.  It features prominently on the cover of my book.

My reasons, then, for photographing orchids were so that I could get to know them, and to share them with others.

Incidentally, some of the flowers are strikingly beautiful.  When my children were helping me prepare the book, they were not happy with pictures that just showed the features relevant for identification; they wanted each photograph to be attractive and balanced.

We went on NOSSA field trips to learn about orchids and photographed them to help with this.  We went with our compact cameras while the photographic enthusiasts took their SLR cameras and their tripods.  We found the digital cameras to be adequate for our purposes and all of the pictures on this blog have been taken with either a compact digital camera or a smart phone.

In May 2011 NOSSA began having a photographic competition to give members the opportunity to share their best photographs.  I entered my favourite photograph of Diuris orientis, which I regard as the most photogenic of our orchids because of its size and depth of rich colours.  This photograph was included in the header in an earlier version of the banner for the Trees For Life website.  This was the first photograph to win this competition.

Diuris orientis 026

Diuris orientis photographed in full sunlight on 4 October 2005.
Notice the splendid rich colours.

We have seen a wonderful selection of photographs from members of NOSSA at the general meetings since this first competition.  The only prize is to have the photograph displayed for a month on the NOSSA website.  Unlike most of the followers here who share their photographs on the net, most of the participants have not shown their pictures before.  This event has been about sharing photographs rather than winning prizes.

The people who judged the orchids at the general meeting had set an example of having two of them speak about the orchids that had been “benched.”  So, the practice with the picture competition has been to use this as an opportunity to have somebody speak about the orchids photographed.  There was also an informative Journal article about the monthly winning photograph and a similar post on the NOSSA website.  This educational aspect makes the competition worthwhile.

The pictures displayed at the meetings are only seen by the 30-40 people attending the monthly meetings, but I hope a larger audience will be able to see them.

What bothers me is the thought of hundreds of photographs stored on home computers that have hardly been seen by anyone and are just waiting for a hard drive to crash when they will be lost for ever.  Some may be historical showing orchids where they no longer occur.  I would like to explore this idea on a later post.

Flowering soon

Unfortunately at the moment I’ve been very busy, consequently I have been unable to prepare much for you.  However, I’m posting a couple of pictures of some summer orchids, that will begin flowering in time for Christmas.

The hyacinth orchid – this is probably one of the most photographed orchid in the Adelaide Hills, as the whole plant can be about two to three feet high.

Dipodium pardina

Dipodium roseum

Moose Orchid – This is probably a flower you won’t see in South Australia, as it is very rare, and grows in swamps.  However it is more common in the eastern states but does not need to grow in a swamp.  Its leaves look like the leaves from gum trees.

Cryptostylis subulata

Duck Orchid – this is actually out at the moment, and would have to be a favourite flower for everyone.

Caleana major

Have a good weekend all!

Orchids in the Technological Age

In the last few years, we have seen some incredible developments in technology, particularly with electronics and multi-media devices.  For instant, walk down a street, and how many people will you see either listening to music from on ipod, or looking down at their smart phone.  How many of you are reading this on a phone?  So there have been some massive changes, and these can be used to help us appreciate orchids, either through photography or identification.

There are plenty of advantages coming from this technological development.  I’ve seen people ask the identification of some orchid they found, and instead of printing the photograph, they just leave it on their tablet or phone.  It certainly saves on paper.  Another outcome is that field guides, or apps for identification can be on you phone or tablet, so instead of carrying around a library of books, you only need to take a phone.  At present, I have four orchid books on my phone, and can check the identification and know straight away what I have found!  I think it is great.

Glossodia major ~ Purple Cockatoo Orchid

I have been amazed at the quality of the pictures that my phone takes.  For those wondering, my phone is the Samsung Galaxy S2, and it has an eight megapixel camera.  I still have to coax it to get the macro shots in focus, but I tend to use my hand to focus, and  then remove my hand away when I take the picture.  However I still have to do that with my compact digital.  Since I bought my phone, I’ve found myself using it as my primary camera, partly because it is so much easier to see the phone screen in the sunlight than my camera screen.

Arachnorchis tentaculata ~ King Spider Orchid

Now, the smart phones also come with GPS.  I have not experimented much with this, but I suspect it may not be as good as some of the GPSs that are on the market.  This is probably an area that still needs to be worked on, but there’s potential.

Petochilus carnea ~ Pink Fingers

You might be interested that all the pictures on this post were taken with my phone.  None of the pictures have been edited.  I still take out the compact digital camera if I am planning to video orchids (phone tends to focus on background rather than flower when filming) or if I need to use optical zoom.