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Amherst Orchid Show, 2013. February 27, 2013

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Uncategorized.
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My yearly intro to Spring is this presentation of the Amherst Orchid Society, incongruously held in neighboring Northampton.

This year I was less zealous than in the past; in lieu of my usual 400 photos, I took less than fifty, most of which were entirely serviceable despite being hand-held at 1/30th of a second or longer, and shot at ISOs of 4000 or higher.

I hope that means I’m becoming a bit more discriminating, though I suspect it speaks more to my becoming lazy as I get old and fat.  😉

Anyway, here are some orchids:




A close-up:


…and some paphiopedilums,  all relatives in the “Lady Slipper” family:

Paph !





…as well as some more ornate sprays, which I haven’t a clue about:



This was a fun outing – it’s late enough in our New England winter so that flowers make me smile!


Enjoy these in the knowledge that Spring is on its way.  🙂

The Rest Of The Orchids… March 1, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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…at the Amherst Orchid Show.

The images:

Well, that’s most of ’em.  The rest are either redundant or of lesser quality (!) so I won’t burden you with them.

My next flowers are likely to be the Smith and Mount Holyoke Bulb Shows, hopefully with something else in between for a breather.

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

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

Amherst Orchid Show, 2011. February 28, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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OK folks, it’s time for Our Yearly Orchasm!

The Amherst Orchid Show, held again this year in Northampton (!) is a sight for winter-weary eyes – a large room full of outrageous form and color, and stuffed full of delighted Flower Zombies milling about and muttering, “Oh, Harold, look at THIS one!”

At first glance it’s a cacophony of color:

…but like much of what’s complex in the world, it divulges its secrets to those willing to take it apart.

A constellation of stars rode high above a ruby sunset:

…as a choir of Angels descended from their Heavenly trellis:

…and a family looked up in slack-jawed amazement :

There were simple single blossoms:

…and some that were fantastical in form:

There were Lady’s Slippers:

…and classics of the family Orchidaceae:

There were interesting pairings of climbers:

…and standers:

…the depths of which caused palpitations in otherwise staid admirers:

…and still others which challenged Elvis for the title of King of the Velvet:

…and some so other-worldly as to seem like beautiful fictions:

I think that’s my favorite shot from the day.

A lot of these takes were in the 15-30 second range; I’d love a chance to get in there without the crowds milling about, as even the breezes of passing people caused enough motion in the more delicate specimens to make photographing them a low-probability prospect.  Nonetheless, I got better shots this year than last, and I’m pretty jazzed about that.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed viewing these as much as I enjoyed taking them.

G’night, now!


Orchid Warning! February 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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In honor of the upcoming Amherst Orchid Show (Feb. 26/27) here are a couple of shots of a bloom in my kitchen.

First, a full-on “portrait:”

…and then a close-up, looking down its wee little throat:

This cut flower was a Valentine’s Day gift from my Susan, and is still hanging in there despite my legendary Brown Thumb.

By the week’s end I’ll have more shots, thanks to the growers and collectors who will be exhibiting on Saturday.

‘Till then… enjoy!


The Amherst Orchid Show. February 21, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Too many shots from today’s outing, without many labels or much context.

But then, orchids are amazing enough to stand alone, and haven’t a need for my ignorant ramblings.


A nice grouping, displaying some of the breadth of the Orchid World:

Another, a thirty-second exposure, with a pot on a slow-moving carrousel:

…and some close-ups:

With a few overviews thrown in to break the monotony:

…and a couple more close-ups to get right into it:

Overall, I was disappointed with my catch; the lighting was somehow both harsh and insubstantial, and the requisite long exposures were adversely affected by the vibrations of constant foot traffic.

Still, a sub-optimal day among orchids beats an excellent day at work.

Meanwhile, Back At The Laundromat… February 5, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, macro photos.
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…I’m mooching a bit of wireless service, ’cause we’re still without phone/internet back at the Rolling J Farm.

It’s a bump in the road, but the road goes on.

So yesterday I went back to the Smith College greenhouses, and being a weekday morning there were very few people there.  This meant I could bring in a tripod without being too much in the way.

Among the many rooms of botanical delights is a tropical room, where thirty-foot plants sport eight-foot leaves:

The humidity was so high in here that I had to repeatedly mop my lens!

There was a cool cacao tree, Theobroma cacao :

I found it interesting that the pods grow on the trunk and larger branches:

Other rooms with more temperate climates are filled with oranges, lemons and grapefruit:

Lots of cool foliage in here, including Black Elephant Ears, Alocasia cuprea :

A part of my goal was to re-shoot some of the plants I got this past weekend as well as others which weren’t suited to Ziggy, my 50mm macro lens.  This time I had a pad and pen so I could actually let you nice folks know what you’re looking at.

Here’s another shot of what I had provisionally called a “red agave,” but is actually a bromeliad, “Elaine Earth Star” :

There were lots of lilies in here, including this Ovitatta, or Variegated Beet Lily:

And the orchids are in full bloom.  This is one I shot earlier but now have a name for, Paphiopedilum mondial,  or “Magnificum:”

And lastly, a pair of blossoms on the long trailer of a Phalaenopsis , or “Moth orchid:”

OK then, I’m off.  Gotta go feed the wood stove!

The Smith College Greenhouses. January 31, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This time of year in Massachusetts can be pretty bleak.  We have days on end when the sun doesn’t actually make it through the clouds and the weather, and the palette is nothing but gray.

So it’s really cool that there are places like the Smith College greenhouses.  At this time of year they’re preparing for their spring “Bulb Show,” a lillie-fest that’s hard to beat.

But right now, their perennial collection goes on, and some of it is flowering as we speak.

Here are a few of the blossoms I passed as I wandered the 18 or so rooms of this beautiful subtropical oasis in a New England winter:

It’s a feast of primary colors, that one yellow, this one red:

And a blue one which I used to know the name of:

These were taken in the late afternoon, and as it was dependably gray, the light was pretty low and the (hand-held) exposures were long.  The resulting “softness” of these shots might be deemed poor technique, but if you think of them as “flower porn,” you’ll appreciate the softening of the harsh reality of this dehumanizing trade.

Ahem.  Just making fun of myself there.

And there were some more complicated flowers there too, both in form and in palette, like the orchids:

…some soft and gentle, others more assertive:

Pardon my anthropomorphism, but this is the most sexually explicit plant I have ever seen.  It has a scrotum, a vagina, lots of pink bits, some short black hairs, and just when you were starting to think it was hot,  a phalanx of warts of indeterminate origin.

Thankfully, the Greenhouse Credo constrains us to “Look, but don’t touch.”

Expect more photos from these greenhouses in the future; there’s a lot going on there, and it changes weekly.