Make It Your Own


A basket of orchids hanging from the ceiling like a grand chandelier surrounded by lots of wonderful symmetry. The tilt screen on the D750 made getting a different perspective a whole lot easier… my neck was very grateful.

A frigid day outside, but as soon as you step into the conservatory of beautiful Longwood Gardens, you are greeted with tropical temperatures and an explosion of color and beauty and, oh yeah, fellow photographers and spectators everywhere.  So how does one take a subject, such as flowers,  especially those that have been poised and arranged ever so meticulously (like those found at the “Orchid Extravaganza”), and take a photograph that is unique and all your own.  Not an easy task… I Googled it.  There are pages of orchid photographs… many just from this event! And of course this is not just limited to flowers; how about all those scenic wonders around the world or even closer to home… just like Longwood.


An amazing sight! A curtain of orchids. But there’s just so much going on. I found myself wishing I had a model (although not allowed), wishing I was a few inches taller, wishing this and that…

Those hanging orchids via reflection. I love all the lines and distortion, but the orchids (as tiny as they are) lost detail and color. In post, I stumbled across this stained-glass like effect. I liked how it added back color everywhere, which in that big room of hanging orchids was just what you see.









Of course, we can always hope or keep our fingers crossed that something special will occur, a beautiful rainbow perhaps, a grand and glowing light source, etc., etc…  Okay, chances are that’s not going to happen.  Instead, if you’re like me, there are always some limitations and restrictions… time restrictions, rules of use, the weather, and those pesky no trespassing signs. So knowing your equipment and more importantly how to see is key to getting the best image possible… at least for me.

Yes, I sometimes do a lot in post, but I strive for the best  possible image right out of the camera. Because it is at that time that the image begins… regardless of its transformation in post.   There are two points in particular that have really impacted how I see.  The first…   what is behind, around, or in front of the subject and how it can be incorporated into the composition.  And the second… giving the image a title as you compose it in the camera.  These words of wisdom actually came from Henry Rowan. (Of note, I’m paraphrasing here, and I am sure Henry said it so much better.) These two practices have become a routine part of my composing… and how I see the image in its entirety.


Of course the orchids are beautiful and perfectly poised on their own, but placing them in the frame with the green palm with its lines and symmetry completely changed this image.

Take for instance, this next group of orchids, which I thought took on a very pontiff-like quality.  So much so, I used the the foggy windows and the window frames to help create a more shall we say spiritual composition… and a Papal Orchid.


Papal Orchid. That title is what popped into my head while composing the shot and guided me in post… Topaz Adjust & Textures just to help accentuate the vision.


A variation of a pontiff-like setting… The Royal Court


A bright sunny day really helped shooting in the conservatory. Before long I changed from a 24-70 mm, ditched the tripod, and began shooting handheld with a 60 mm macro.  Handheld, for me, is about the only way to incorporate the background that I want… or don’t want… and find that perfect angle.


This was a challenge. Again, if only I were just a bit taller. It took some doing…standing on tip-toes and a good stretch to frame these orchids where I wanted them with the iron scroll work in the background. I came close… I think.

In my bag on this outing:  Nikon D750, Nikon 60 mm macro, and Tamron 24-70.

I hope you enjoyed this abbreviated tour of the “Orchid Extravaganza”.

Until next time,

One thought on “Make It Your Own

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