View Full Version : macro for orchids??

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Dan Fromm
01-26-2006, 07:33 PM
Couple of additional thoughts, I use my Schneider 180 mm makro for shots of orchids with 4x5.

The dimensions that I start out with using this lens is 360mm of extension and about 180mm distance from the subject and then move from there (bellows extension and the whole tripod and camera) to get what I want. At this setting, my exposure is 1.5 to 2 stops over metered to compensate for bellows extension. If one is to err on exposure, err on the side of slight overexposure - 1/2 to 2/3 stop for some punch to the finished image.


CharlieI'm not sure there's one strong enough to hold y'r camera, but have you tried using a focusing rail? I ask because I find one useful when I need to maintain a fixed magnification. Beats picking up the tripod and moving it a tiny distance fore or aft.

I take it you're shooting negative film.

Interesting judging rule. I think I'd share y'r frustration with it.



01-26-2006, 10:14 PM
Thank you very much Dan
Yes componon is in #0 shutter and I have more then 300mm of bellows draw.
I will also get Lesters book. I am fascinated with macro photography. So many things we do pass and not see at all that macro photography reviles.Your explanation is great.Definitely will give me good start. Charlie thanks for your imput too.


01-26-2006, 10:49 PM
Lefkowitz's book is on its way for whole Dollar from amazon.com.Thanks Dan


01-27-2006, 05:51 PM
I'm not sure there's one strong enough to hold y'r camera, but have you tried using a focusing rail? I ask because I find one useful when I need to maintain a fixed magnification. Beats picking up the tripod and moving it a tiny distance fore or aft.

Move the subject, not the camera. Works like a charm if you have the option!

01-27-2006, 05:59 PM
That works too, usually what happens is I am set up with a composition/arrangement I like and it is a matter of just scooting the tripod/camera back or forth a skoshi to bring everything into sharp focus.

Many ways to peel a banana.


01-27-2006, 06:05 PM
My current camera setup weighs 47lbs and is over seven feet long, I've learned the art of scooting the subjects around with their arrangements intact! Every once in while when I need to move the camera for some reason I just kick one of the legs of the rear tripod.

Dan Fromm
01-27-2006, 06:26 PM
Ah! But I work mainly in the field, not the studio. Sometimes the field is as close as my back yard and the subject is a yellow lady's slipper growing in a half barrel or a Spiranthes that grows in the ground.

But if the subject is portable, by all means move it.



11-29-2007, 06:08 AM
Bright good morning to you also. Photographing orchids is one of my passions, I do all of the awards photography for the AOS and the Cymbidium Society of America here in Southern California. My website is www.orchid-photographer.com and I was most recently published pretty extensively in a book titled "Understanding Orchids".

Good luck and feel free to email me anytime via my website if there are other aspects that you would like to discuss.


Hello Charlie,

your website is worth a look (or two).


03-27-2008, 02:37 PM
The typical Orchid tends t be in a container that is mobile which means tat typically it can be located outdoors in the right time and place to provide nice natural light as well as a good background. i guess if the intent is illustrative-showing the specific structure as opposed to aesthetic you may find some plus in a rather artificial setup,but I'm inclined to favor the what you see is what you get aspect of using natural lighting whenever possible. I tend to prefer a picture of a flower to at least seem to be in a natural setting. A plant that is potted can be moved about. Even if you live in an apartment in a city-somewhere you can get it to a park or other place where you can employ good natural light at a good angle and have a nice background.

Trying to construct a background and the right flash deployment is a good technical exercise but may not be the most effective way to get the best shot. to me,flash is ALWAYS plan B. If there is an option to use natural outdoor light--that tends to be what I do.

03-27-2008, 03:00 PM
The mere thought of shooting Macros of Orchids with a 4x5 view camera sort of boggles my mind. A thing to meditate upon.

Okay......upon further contemplation....I guess if there's gonna be a 2 ft x 3 ft blowup....hell yeah. To me,anything for which the final outcome is no larger than an 8x 10 is probably best done in 35 mm or medium format. The classic Ansel Adams Yosemite shots only really zing when printed big. Otherwise he could have used a 35 mm,got the same result. View camera vs a smaller format is basically a tradeoff. The jumbo negative is a plus,but a view camera always has the limitations of where to put a big tripod and the lens options available. While I have plenty of respect for what can be done with the 4x5 view format,I'd want to note the trade offs

03-27-2008, 03:11 PM

I've done Orchid macros with a 5x7 - my intended goal is platinum contact prints. I use a Nikon 120 Apo-Makro lens which fully covers 5x7 at infinity, and has plenty of depth of field even at close range. I did this work in the field (well, the Rawlings Conservatory up in Baltimore), using a lightweight Manfrotto carbon-fiber tripod, and had no issues with the tripod getting in the way. I'd much rather have the big ground glass to work on, especially when shooting macro work, so I can actually see what I'm focusing on.

03-27-2008, 04:01 PM
Rembrandt, actually,I don't see any tradeoffs!

(1) In my estimation, there are zero DOF advantages for the smaller format.

(2) The LF camera, usually bellows focusing, allows the photographer to explore the 1:1 realm more flexibly... and go far beyond. Fine-tuning the effective magnification is trivial with a rail camera. It's much easier doing this with bellows than with extension tubes and such.

(3) Ground glass allows very precise composition, with a loupe. Way more precise than anything that can be done with an SLR viewfinder.

(4) Tilts allow us to do several things that cannot be done very easily in smaller formats. Yes, you can put a t&s lens or bellows on 35mm system, but it is far from being as flexible or comprehensive an approach.

(4b) Bear in mind that front to back sharpness, as a general strategy, has been done and done and done. But thinking more about all the options by which the focal plane can intersect something as wonderfully 3D as an orchid is an ongoing and enjoyable challenge.

(5) The tonality advantage of LF is especially important for floral macros. The tonality issue can be, I feel, as strong or even stronger than is the case with portraits.

(6) I don't find working with an LF camera/tripod to really be any harder than small format. Once you're on a tripod, you're on a tripod. At higher magnifications, you start to actually prefer the stability of the larger/bulkier system, and the low-impulse action of an LF leaf shutter is another benefit at that extreme. My favourite macro cameras are two big-beast systems frequently said to be unwieldy in the field: an rb67 and a cambo 8x10 monorail camera.

Now, having said all this, I definitely like using roll film for macro, because that allows me to work very quickly and bracket exposures. This can be a big issue if your subject is a delicate blossom that also requires some additional lighting.