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  1. #1
    Dan's45's Avatar
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    macro for orchids??

    top of the morning to everyone,
    i am writing with a question for those who work with macro. i primarily work with a 4x5 monorail camera and am wanting to maybe start working with photographing orchids, as that is another hobby of mine. i plan on doing most of it in black and white with the occassional color pic every now and again. any hinters on what i should focus on? no pun intended there. i have a black backdrop to work against as of right now-just some old cloth found in a spare room. it seems to work to take away the shadows, except inside around hard lights i'd guess you'd call it-normal lights in the household. anyway when having it against the windows with a thing blue curtain, seems to really draw out the shadows and still give me enough light to see with. is there anything else i should look into, as i am currently trying to find anything on photographing orchids, with little avail. i do not like working with flash units or the sort, strictly available light only-feel it gives the subject a nicer tone. would looking into reflectors work for beefin up the tone? what does anyone who works with this subject handle it-the set up, choosing locations, what filters to use,etc.,etc. any help would be appreciated. thanks!!

  2. #2

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    I've used inexpensive gooseneck halogen desk lamps, with deflectors and bounce cards. Sort of a mini studio set-up on my dining room table. For backdrop, tri-fold cardboard presentation boards (at office supply stores) come in black or white. I've also used sheer white cloth behind with a strong light source behind to get a white background. All very inexpensive but takes practice to get the lighting right and control the shadows.
    Exposures were usually up to 30 seconds and I often had to remind my 7 y.o. son not to run through the room during the exposure. There are some examples of macro shots using this setup in my personal gallery. Good luck!

  3. #3

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    I have photographed orchids for a few years now and worked with black cardboard and windowlight as a "setup," and I´m pleased with the results. Unless you are working with tiny species (Lepanthes, Pleurothallis and similar), or want to do extreme close-ups, you need no macro. Keep bellows exposure compensation and reciprocity data handy. My only non-technical advice is: start working with species with simple shapes (Phaelenopsis, Vanda, Lycaste), especially in B&W, until you get the hang of what you want your images to look like, before you venture into photographing the more bizarre plants. It takes time to tune the eye and find out how to look at your subjects to bring out their exotic character, instead of producing just another flower photo.

    Good luck,

    Peter
    Photos are made four inches behind the camera

  4. #4
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    If you're using a Sinar then you'll probably do fine with a 150mm and an extension rail. If you have a standard 12" rail, you'll probably want a 6" extension. Your standard bellows should be fine.

  5. #5

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    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".

    I use a Nikon N90S with a 60 mm macro lens, Kodak 64T film, quartz halogen "soft" lighting and both black cloth and a "photo grey" matt board that I got from Aaron Brothers for background. My setup is very portable. Most of my exposures are shot at f11 to f22 at around 1 second exposure. I tend to meter on the portion of the subject that would be considered as average grey and then add about 2/3 stop. Focus can be tricky, but at f 11 to f22, there is sufficient depth of field to capture the subject, but not the background (which should be unlit and about 2 to 3 feet behind the subject). Focus on a point about 1/3 back on the subject as depth of field increases twice as much behind the focal point as it does in front.

    I am also using a 4x5 Toyo, again with Kodak 64T (EPY film) and a Schneider Makro 180 mm lens.

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

    Charlie

  6. #6

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    A mirror on a stand set in the sunlight can throw a beam of strong light a long distance. It can be bright enough that you may wish to work with silks to diffuse it. This can be on, a bright day a very flexible, and inexpensive solution.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  7. #7
    roy
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    Quote Originally Posted by pharquarx
    Bright good morning to you also. Photographing orchids is one of my passions, Charlie
    This is an interesting thread and would be relevant to most who photograph flowers. The website has some nice images. One of the problems I have found when considering this subject is that it is not always easy to isolate single blooms without some pruning, something I am reluctant to do. I have a half-plate camera with a 1:1 extension and intend to try flowers using black and white film.
    Roy Groombridge.

    Cogito, ergo sum.
    (Descartes)

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by roy
    This is an interesting thread and would be relevant to most who photograph flowers. The website has some nice images. One of the problems I have found when considering this subject is that it is not always easy to isolate single blooms without some pruning, something I am reluctant to do. I have a half-plate camera with a 1:1 extension and intend to try flowers using black and white film.
    Roy, I beg to differ with you. So far the thread is somewhat relevant to those who want to shoot flowers indoors and who are averse to using flash. Out-of-doors, especially with plants a bit more flexible than some orchid cultivars, wind can be a major factor and power for hot lights isn't always within reach. I have an OmniLight with 30v bulb and a 30v battery belt, but using it for still photography somehow never occurs to me.

    The lighting techniques described so far all work, and can work very well. But for out-and-about use they're not always very practical.

    I shoot flowers with three different setups, all with flash. 55 MicroNikkor -- my wife's /3.5 AI or my /2.8 AIS -- with two little flashes on a Jones of Hollywood macro bracket. 105/2.8 MicroNikkor AIS with two little flashes on a Spiratone Macrodapter. And 2x3 Speed Graphic with 100/6.3 Reichert Neupolar or 4"/5.6 Wollensak Enlarging Pro Raptar and two Vivitar 283s on a bracket I made. Highest magnification with the 55s is 1:1, with the 105 MicroNikkor is 1.14:1, on the Graphic the Neupolar goes to a little over 2:1. I shoot my Nikons hand-held, the Graphic on a tripod with 2-axis focusing rail.

    When I don't want the dread black background effect, I have to use another flash to illuminate the background appropriately or an 18% grey card held by an assistant (spelled W*I*F*E) behind the subject.

    Yeah, I know, my Graphic isn't even 1/4 plate, but even so you should be able to steal some of my ideas, and you're welcome to them.

    pharquarx, I disagree a little with you too. When I do the calculations for closeup DoF, I get it pretty symmetrical around the plane of best focus. A minor quibble, especially since there's so little of it ...

    Many are the ways,

    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Fromm; 01-24-2006 at 07:06 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: afterthought

  9. #9
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    An alternative to the Schneider 180 macro is a 180mm Rodenstock Apo-Macro Sironar f5.6, filter 67mm. You can't go wrong with either.

    A very cheap tool I learned about in school is a strong stand to hold reflectors, back drop or lights if you decide to fill. Use a two pound coffee tin. Fill with mixed Sakrete cement. Clamp a 1"x2"x6' piece of wood centered in the mix for a few hours. Paint flat black if needed and you have a very good stand for little money. Pick up spring clamps at the hardware store to hold objects to the stand.

    Enjoy,

    John Powers

  10. #10

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    Very interesting and hopefully continuing discussion.

    I have been very reluctant to use flash for my subjects as my limited experience, and probably simplistic approach, yielded very flat looking images, which is not bad for items such as phalaenopis, miltonias, vandas and the like. However, I like the use of the lights on stands (four total) as, when I light frontally with two and move two to the sides, the texture and three dimensional quality of the flowers is emphasized in the final photographs. One exciting aspect also is to selectively backlight some of the orchids such as cattleyas and Chinese paphiopedilums as they have wonderful veining and, with the cattleyas, the front surface under these conditions takes on an almost irredescent (sp???) glow. One of my cohorts (Greg Allikas) who does the photography down in Florida uses flash very successfully and I believe that Charles Marsden Fitch up in New York also does the same. Google their names to see some of their work as well as go to the American Orchid Society website.

    As far as the focus point, I am a practical, simple man with an engineering background and tend to go with what I have found works well, whether I understand the complicated theory and concepts behind them. As I tell people who are trying to learn this type of photography, it is better to err on focusing too forward on the subject as opposed to back on the subject. An orchid photo with the foreground features sharp is a lot more appealing than one where the foreground features are out of focus and the background ones are in. The nice thing about today's optics are that they are superb when working with the shallow depth of field that is present in this type of photography.

    One other item too is isolation of a single bloom, tricky at times, I use masking tape or sometimes roll solder wire to gently move/hold the arrangement to my liking.

    Also too, on the subjects of backgrounds, dark flowers command a light background and vice versa. Seamless white paper, when unlit and placed about two to three feet behind usually provides a nice pearlescent grey color that works well with dark or light flowers.

    Hope this proves informative. Have fun.

    Charlie

    P.S. I do not use any filters, I even remove the UV protector when I photograph.

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