Tag Archives: Smithsonian

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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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.