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.
* Website: Eloquent Images
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