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Orchids, Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 24 September 2010 in Plant & Nature and Portfolio.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the Big Island of Hawaii is quite simply one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited. As someone who constantly seeks pristine beauty untouched by the hand of man, the HTBG's paved paths and unobtrusive plant labels place it slightly outside my normal subject material. But throughout the entire garden (and I made sure I didn't miss a single square inch) I never felt that the designers had imposed their will on the lush rainforest jungle; rather, I always had the sense that the trails and displays were simply there to showcase this tropical wonderland at its natural best.

Set on a steep hillside in a dense jungle above Onomea Bay, the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is not particularly large. Visitors without cameras could stroll the entire network of immaculate trails in an hour. But what a waste that would be, as this is a place to savor. Throughout our visit my wife and I frequently marveled at how much we felt like we'd been teleported to Avatar's Pandora. Every step or turn of the head seemed to reveal a new colorful and exotic plant. In addition to the abundant plant life, nestled within the garden's boundaries are a peaceful koy pond and the (not so peaceful) Owners' Birdhouse, host to a half-dozen or so dazzling, squawking macaws. The garden is bounded on the east by an intimate, rocky Pacific cove, too violent for swimming but made to order for photography. And as if all that wasn't enough, we thought our visit was about finished when we rounded a bend to find a three-teired waterfall plunging into a cool green pool.

Beautiful scenes are comprised of smaller pieces of beauty, there for the enjoyment of anyone who looks. Each component offers its own qualities and appeal. I found these vivid pink blooms in the HTBG Orchid Garden, a small enclave saturated with orchids of all colors and sizes. They jutted just a foot above the ground, emerging from dense shade and surrounded by dozens of other different but no less dazzling orchids. I chose this trio because I could isolate it from rest of the scene. The predominant shade was ideal for intimate photography like this, but I had to wait a few minutes for the ever-changing clouds overhead to blot the few beams of sunlight filtering into my frame. While waiting I added an extension tube and dialed in a large aperture to limit the depth of field and turn the background leaves into a blur of green. By exposing for the orchids, which were lit by soft, cloud-filtered sunlight, the shaded foliage provided a dark, complementary background for the electric flowers.

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Tamara from Aarschot, Belgium

Wow... this is excellent ! I often tried to photograph orchids and always came up with a boring image... don't ask me why ;) This is exactly the opposite... wonderful work Gary. Have a nice day :)

24 Sep 2010 8:39am

@Tamara: Thanks, Tamara. I don't ever find your images boring. The key to macro (and all nature) photography is to be aware of your background and control the depth of field. I usually opt for minimal depth (like this image), but make it a conscious decision.

Elora from Genoa, Italy

These are beautiful - I love orchids, they are among my favourite flowers - no matter what their colour!

24 Sep 2010 10:26am

Denny Jump Photo from Easton, PA, United States

what a marvelous place that must be, Gary. Thanks for your wonderful elaboration - I want to be there right now. Another reason to head for my bucket list "Big Island" visit....I really appreciate your explanation of how and why you chose this particular set of orchids, the isolation, the lighting, and, of course your selection of settings and lenses. When I opened your image I had another "Whoa!" moment as I do with great regularity on your wonderful work - it's like thw garden was for you two, a new WOW at every turn. Fantastic. Thank you very much, Gary!

24 Sep 2010 3:36pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States


24 Sep 2010 3:55pm

Julie from Easton, United States

Such beautiful flowers and an awesome shot of them!

24 Sep 2010 5:04pm

Magda from Vancouver, Canada

simply beautiful!

24 Sep 2010 5:14pm

Mici from Mississauga, Canada

Beautiful flowers, colours , focus and composition

24 Sep 2010 5:32pm

Judy aka L@dybug from Brooksville, Florida, United States

Three beautiful orchid hearts ... gorgeous colors and clarity!

24 Sep 2010 6:01pm

Tracy from La Selva Beach, United States

Three smiling happy faces! I love these Gary!

24 Sep 2010 7:45pm

Barbara Kile from Ft. Worth, United States

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! (That's a 'beautiful' for each blossom!) One needs just the right amount of distance between camera and subject and then subject to bg to achieve this. Nicely done!

24 Sep 2010 8:32pm

Mike from California, United States

The vivid detail and colors you've captured here are great ! We cruised by the gardens, but really didn't have the time to time I guess.

25 Sep 2010 11:28pm

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

this is just so beautiful! excellent focus, sharpness and detail! perfect DOF for this photo as well!

26 Sep 2010 2:30pm

Dutçh from Chicagoland, United States

I think Avatar has stuck in the minds of many that have seen it for reasons as you stated.. a pristine world.. or maybe a desire for peace as well. Beautifully taken orchids.. the are such amazing, delicate flowers.

27 Sep 2010 12:10am

Marianne Bush from Belmont, United States

A wonderful image, Gary. An awesome threesome for sure. Great DOF. I too have had trouble shooting orchids. I think you just fixed my approach ;-).

27 Sep 2010 4:57pm

✿ Anina ✿ from Auckland, New Zealand

WOW!! How wonderful! I love how the color pops against the dark background! The detail, clarity and lighting are all amazing. Very well done

27 Sep 2010 11:04pm

Wild Mustang Photography from Carlisle, United States

Stunning composition! Beautiful color and great DOF! So clear and love the dark background as contrast! Wonderful!

29 Sep 2010 2:52am