At this time of year, native wildflowers are in full bloom. Take a stroll through many of our nature reserves and you will be presented with a wondrous array of orchids and wildflowers. Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve has long been considered a wonderful place for orchid-spotting.
Macro photography allows you to get in close and capture the intricate details of our natural world. Most cameras, whether compact or lens interchangeable, have a macro setting that assists in focusing closely on small details with a shallow depth of field (often pictured as a flower symbol). Depth of field is how much of your image is in focus and allows you to highlight details while blurring distracting backgrounds. It can be frustrating at times but the end results are wondrous images that give us an insight into the smallest — and sometimes most beautiful — aspects of our world.
If you have a DSLR, a macro lens can be an expensive but rewarding investment. I love my 90mm macro f2.8 lens, which allows me to achieve astonishing details without needing to get too close and potentially scare away small insects or other animals I am photographing.
A tripod allows for small adjustments without camera shake, to make sure what you are trying to capture is in focus and stays in focus. With orchids, a “throat shot” of the labellum is usually what I like to focus on, giving as much detail to the intricate parts of the flower as possible.
Windy weather, or even a gentle breeze, can make it hard to focus. In these situations I tend to increase the shutter speed and change my focus to AI-SERVO, AP-C, or Continuous so the camera will try to remain focused as the orchid sways. Manual focus can be an excellent tool when you are really struggling, as often the camera will want to focus on the background or foreground and ignore the main subject.
Your aperture assists in controlling your depth of field or how much is in focus; f2.8 gives you a small area of focus, whereas f11 will have more of the orchid in focus. Alternatively, if all else fails, take a step back and then crop the image in post-production.
Do your research and study orchids and their leaves so you know what to look for. Some orchids are so small their main flower wouldn’t be any bigger than a fingernail. I recently managed to photograph several critically endangered flora species locally and abroad; it is a humbling experience. Always remember that native flora and fauna is protected under law, so take only memories and a photograph with you.
Most importantly, enjoy! Once you start down the path of exploring native orchids, you’ll become enchanted very quickly.
PHOTOS: Lauren Nicole Photography