Flowers Nature

A Day With the Orchids

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Every year here in Washington DC, there is a show of orchids. This year the display is at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Getting decent pictures of the flowers can be quite challenging due to the number of people attending and the placement of the plants.

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Many of the plants and flowers have identity signs very close to them which often get in the way. I find I am down on my knees or up on my toes trying to find an angle that minuses the signs.

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Fortunately I was prepared to spend a number of hours waiting for folks to move allowing me to get as good a perspective as I could.

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The lighting also presented challenges. I used a color checker passport to try to get a handle on the white balance. Turns out not all the lighting was the same color temperature. It was also quite dim. I used an external flash to fill in here and there and as the main light in other shots. Another issue is with the reflections off the flowers themselves. Many of them are quite shiny resulting in bright and often blown-out highlights. Turns out shooting flowers at an exhibition is quite the challenge. I think I’ll visit a local shop and pick up a few plants to practice on.

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Birding Nature Wildlife

A visit to SCBI

Female Kingfisher
Female Kingfisher
Male Kingfisher
Male Kingfisher

I paid a visit to the Smithsonian Biology Conservation Center on Sunday. Typically only once a year the public is invited to visit the center. This past weekend was ideal due to the mild temperature and slight breeze. There were exhibits explaining the activities undertaken by the scientists, researchers and interns at the center. My favorites were the birds i.e. Red Crowned cranes, kingfishers and rails. I tried to see the bison, but they were off in a small valley out of sight. Photographing the birds was a challenge since they were in enclosures with wire fence fronts. The lighting was also a challenge being fluorescent tubes and some other fixtures. A wide aperture helped with the fence and a neutral target helped with the lighting.


Autumn blossoms

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If you plan for it, you can have colorful flowers blooming well into the autumn months. Here in Leesburg, the Master Gardeners have planned well. Most of the big showy types are gone or well on the way, but there are quite a few smaller flowers providing plenty of color throughout the garden. I like to wander the garden looking for late butterflies, especially Monarchs. I usually see a few, presumably on their way to Mexico, taking up nectar.

Getting ready to bloom
Getting ready to bloom

Not all the flowers attract butterflies, at least not that I have seen. Most though attract bees of all sorts, as well as ants and other insects. They also attract other critters like me. Most days I will be the only one there watching as the season turns. I like the quiet. I can hear the birds better. Even my sandwich taste better. Thank you Master Gardeners of Leesburg for your wonderful garden.

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Nature Wildlife

Just passing through

On the way to Mexico
On the way to Mexico

A Monarch which stopped at the garden for some nectar. This is one of several seen in a 60 minute period. Perhaps they are en route to Mexico where Monarchs over winter. Migrants or not it is good to see them locally as their numbers have been diminishing over the years.

Nature Scenic Wildlife

A walk around the pond

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A hot July afternoon. Not the best time to go looking for birds but a very good time to look for butterflies and dragonflies. An overcast sky is very nice also. I didn’t have to contend with any harsh shadows – just nice even light all around.

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A good opportunity to create some nice silhouettes.

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I really like how the pond flora blends into a beautiful background.