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Amherst Orchid Show 2012, Part 1. February 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
Tags: , , , ,

The end of February is usually a time for us New Englanders to long for an escape from the grip of winter – her harsh winds and interminable whiteness have by this point lost the pristine magic they possessed in December.

This year it would be disingenuous to martyr ourselves on the cross of a harsh season stoically endured, but still, a little color is welcomed amidst the dismal browns of this Un-Winter, and with that in mind Susan and I headed down to Northampton for our yearly visit to the Amherst Orchid Show:

What good fortune it is that many varieties of orchids bloom in what is our winter season!  Their vibrant variety is a marvel of form and color, functionality disguised as flamboyance.

Here are a double handful of shots from our day:

(That one’s way  too scrotal for polite company, but if you’re here I’ll assume you’re looser than that.)

And no, I didn’t get their names; I was too busy feasting my eyes to work that hard.  My apologies to the growers who deserve more respect than that, but hey, I’m just looking and loving the fruits of their considerable labors.

All of these are courtesy of Ziggy, my 50mm Sigma macro lens.  He’s fast at f2.8 (though I didn’t open him up that far, opting instead for a little more depth of field,) but I worried about his lack of Image Stabilization technology.  Most of these shots were very slow for the shaky hands of this old dust-farter.  As a consequence of my concern for slow shutter speeds, I shot most everything here at two stops under what my on-board exposure meter told me to do (Hey, I’m  the boss here!) and brought the levels up in Photoshop post-processing.  The resulting images have a lot less background noise than they otherwise might, which I think is an improvement over last year’s effort.

All-in-all, I’m pleased with the results.

If I get to them, there will be another rack of shots coming.  We’ll see what happens between now and their appearance and adjust things accordingly.


1. Josephine Robertson - February 26, 2012

I was about to ask if you used a flash because the backgrounds were so underexposed while the orchids were perfectly exposed, and without noise!

When I underexpose and bring up in PS, that’s when I get noise… These are lovely, just lovely!

2. lisahgolden - February 26, 2012

These are glorious. Full blown winter or not, they definitely brighten up this drab time of year.

3. littlebangtheory - February 27, 2012

Josephine, welcome to LBT, and thanks for commenting!

No, I don’t own a flash, as I don’t like how it looks and, being mostly a landscape photographer, I haven’t really missed it.

Are you shooting in RAW? Photoshop CS5 has a pretty powerful way of dealing with high ISO noise, which was the issue here (at ISOs from 800 to 2000.) You’ll want to enlarge things to the point where the noise is obvious, them boot the luminance ’till the noise is smoothed out, then sharpen quite a bit to get your edges back. It’s a process which takes a bit of practice, but if you’re saving things as copies along the way and know how to access your “history” palette you can try repeatedly until things look right. Do get back to me if that doesn’t make sense; perhaps I’m making improper assumptions about what you’re working with.

And thanks for the kind words on my results. 😉

Lisa, yes, it was a balm, despite the relatively mild winter. There’s nothing like flowers to make a person smile!

4. Kenneth Peters - February 27, 2012

It was nice to meet you at the show. Your shots are very nice. I completely agree with your comments above regarding noise reduction. If you are interested check out LightRoom from Adobe. CS5 is nice but LightRoom is a photographer’s dream. It is like a darkroom for the digital age. It has some amazing noise reduction settings that simplify your life.

5. TheCunningRunt - February 27, 2012

Kenneth, good to meet you as well. Your Sigma 70-200 did you proud!

I don’t have (and can’t quite afford) Lightroom, though
I bet it’s nice. 🙂 Guess I’ll just tough it out with the manual adjustments in CS5…

6. susan - February 29, 2012

It was just yesterday (overcast, cold, and windy) that I was wishing out loud Halifax had a flower show we could go and see. By this time of year Portland will be abloom with daffodils and all the rest – the longest spring anywhere lasts from February through May. Yes, I’m missing it, so I really do appreciate your thoughtfulness in taking these pictures for me.

7. TheCunningRunt - February 29, 2012

Susan, glad to oblige!

Yeah, it’s time for Spring – there’s only so much butt-ugly I can abide!

…And now it’s snowing! We’ll see if something beautiful comes of it, though the forecast is calling for it to devolve into sleet and freezing rain, followed by rain on Saturday. What’s a guy got to do ta catch a break!?!?!?!? 😉

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