Photographing the Orchids at the Orchid Show

February 27, 2016  •  2 Comments

I had intended to post more about the Orchid Show long before this. Time is flying and the show is at its halfway point this weekend. I hope you all have had a chance to visit to see both my exhibit and the stunning display of over 10,000 orchids. The show is truly spectacular this year! This weekend the temperatures promise to reach into the 50's. What a perfect weekend for a walk at the Chicago Botanic Garden and a visit to the Orchid Show!

In case you missed my article on the Out of Chicago website, you can read it here. It gives an overview of the show and some tips for shooting orchids. Since the weeks leading up to the show I have been busy and completely focused on capturing the orchids. I've shot over 6,000 images! Do you think I might be a tiny bit passionate about capturing these exotic and beautiful flowers?! I have challenged myself to keep growing and learning new ways to photograph these complex flowers. I have a strong conviction to keep growing as a photographer; in my eyes there is no such thing as mastering a genre of photography. One can always discover new ways to grow and learn. A few short months ago, I presented my macro flower photography class at the Chicago Area Photography School. During that presentation I declared myself a natural light photographer and conveyed that I couldn't get the results I wanted using flash. Yes, I do still prefer shooting in natural light, especially when shooting flowers outdoors. However, shooting flowers indoors, particularly the complex orchid, presents many challenges. Light in the exhibit can be contrasty and bright in the greenhouses and very dim in the inner rooms of the exhibit. Tripods, although allowed on Wednesday afternoons, are cumbersome to use in the pathways of the crowded exhibit. Even when I am shooting before the exhibit opens in the early morning, I am sensitive to being in the way of the busy horticulturists watering and working on the exhibit.  This year I decided to revisit the use of a macro ring light and upgraded my previous model to the Yongnuo YN-14EX-C Macro Ring Light. It got excellent reviews and for $103 (compared to $549 for the Canon model), I felt it was a worth a try.  The quality is impressive and I am thrilled with the results I am getting. The ring light allows me to shoot at higher apertures hand-held. It provides nice even, natural-looking light and helps to provide the necessary fill light to illuminate the inner structure of the orchid. The ring light has truly been a game-changer in how I can shoot the orchids. As with any flash, there is a bit of a learning curve to the use of a ring light, but I have found the Yongnuo easy and intuitive to use.

Here are some images I've captured with the ring light.

  But, of course, when I put on the Lensbaby Velvet to photograph orchids, I am relying on the beautiful natural light this lens is able to capture. This lens continues to amaze me!


Richard T(non-registered)
Stunning photos, Anne. I don't think I have ever seen such beautiful photos of orchids before. With the black background they become quite abstract in appearance. . .
Susie Thompson(non-registered)
Wow! Fantastic! Congratulations! Wish I could have been there. Thanks for the information about the lensbaby.
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