Four summers ago, I wrote about Taking Tea with Tornadoes describing my experience with the art of Japanese tea ceremonies during severe low pressure fronts; it has been quite a while since I’ve explored the Land of the Rising Sun. Please allow me to apologize in advance for my take on this venerable, ancient culture. “Sumimasen” すみません
I have the heart of a wanderer…and the expense account for ramen noodles on a good day. So, I have to adventure vicariously–taking a trip on the Orient Express for me means getting on board with digital media.
Allow me to recommend a few curiosities I’ve discovered along the way.
I used to scream bloody murder when I was a child. I would shriek so loud, so long, that eventually I would go hoarse. I even developed nodes–tightened knots on my vocal chords. When I finally figured out screaming wasn’t helping me I stopped. This allowed my vocal chords to relax and I discovered I had a deeper register. (As a result, I sing somewhere between contralto and tenor with a hiccup in my falsetto.)
What I couldn’t have told you, even if you had asked, was why. Why did I devolve into a nightmare child shuddering in hysterics? I couldn’t tell you then, but I might be able to tell you now.
I attend the Meijer Garden’s Orchid show every year, if I can. This year I was exceptionally lucky in more ways than one–in having child care and in running into the nicest couple who helped me take even better pictures (with much less swearing at my camera) than usual.
To Vicki and Lou, many thanks! You may take credit for any of the flower images that follow!
It is hard to narrow down my choices to just a few special interest pictures. I took over 350 shots and did stop to tweak a few digitally. (Which sounds much worse than it actually is.)
You’ll notice that there is a yellowish cast to many of the photos. I blame the lighting that is intended to enhance the floral display, but plays havoc with getting a true color capture.
Sometimes it is hard to capture an image for more reasons than lighting. (Operator incompetence springs to mind, for example.) So cropping is the next best thing to actually getting a good shot the first time.
I was struggling mightily with my Canon EOS (I can only assume EOS stands for Exceptionally Obstinant System) when Lou offered a few hints. And then, when I still couldn’t manage to get my camera to ‘point and shoot’ for me, he fiddled with about a half-dozen settings until he figured out the problem. Honestly, I can’t tell you what he changed, but it was like he put the fear of Kodak into the thing, because it stopped hiccuping afterward. Yay Lou!
I tend to prefer a nice crisp image. I liked centered shots, but sometimes, the size or arrangement of the flowers made this nigh impossible.
How do you center on a flowering bush, for example? I chose to close crop the surroundings so that you could ‘feel the profusion’ of the yellow flowering orchid with about the longest name I’ve ever seen.
The next image, I only snapped one photo. Fortunately, I got most of the massive bloom in focus. But shooting from a distance and trying to avoid all the other glamorous contenders makes photographing them a challenge.
I particularly liked the name of the next flower–though I took about 8 shots, none really captured the drama of the beauty which was a cross of a Victorian Bride and a Speciosum.
I aimed for the mystery implied by the name, instead, my picture is more of a question unanswered. It was like photographing a herd of children–each face looking in a different direction.
How can you not love the pinkness of the Vanda Princess Mikasa? There should totally be a Japanese Anime character in a frilly pink frock to go with this.
The next flower I had to finesse the shot from an angle, because taken head-on, you got a lot of background noise in the way of giant tags dangling from other flowers. You could try to move the pesky things, but then you ran the risk of damaging someone’s priceless petals. I am many things, but a bud abuser is not one of them.
How many pictures is too many? I suspect you will judge for yourself. Perhaps you glide past them in quick processional to get them over with? (As if you see things like this every day!) Maybe you do.
I, however, get a two hours span once a year. That means every single flower deserves its moment in the digital sun.
The orchid show runs through Sunday, January 26, so I am racing to get these online in time to lure you down the garden path to orchid indulgences.
How can you not when such tongue-twisting temptations abound? A quick search on the internet will tell you some of their secrets.
The unpronounceable Phragmipedium Kovachii below, for example, is particularly tricky to produce. It can take 8 years of growth from seed before this shy flower blooms. That does tend to increase one’s appreciation knowing how rare these pink petals are.
Sometimes it can be hard for a particular lovely to stand out in a crowd.
But it’s worth it to single out the bloom, or blooms, that catch your eye. Even if you have to crawl around getting the perfect angle.
How the displays are set up can make a huge difference. One of my favorite arrangements was actually incredibly hard to shoot–due to the small size of the dangling flowers and the driftwood base that was their platform. It was phenomenally crafted, but annoying to photograph.
Petals so fragile and delicate could be easily overlooked:
In fact, if I hadn’t run into Lou and Vicki, I might have missed the tiny sparkler that was easily overshadowed by its surroundings.
Other arrangements were difficult to capture because of the number of branches or direction of growth. Such was the case with the Oncidium Cheirophorum.
It was a beautiful plant–but with blooms so far apart as to appear a bit drunken and in danger of falling over–unless you cropped the focus to one spray of blossoms.
Such as here:
It just goes to show, you don’t always see the whole picture no matter how well a subject is photographed!
I’ve always loved looking at the world through a lens. I don’t know why. I just do. Maybe it is because I can crop out the messy bits that just don’t fit; I can focus on what I find beautiful and take it home with me.
I’ll throw in a few more favorites before toddling off to bed. I can’t show them all, you’d never stand for that sort of nonsense, but I’ve tried to capture the essence of the show.
The confused blooms that seem made up of many colors and patterns:
Some I could not put a name to–either because my snapshot was blurry or the flower was an orphan without parentage delineated.
There are vendors providing all sorts of sales regarding orchid paraphernalia, but one stood out as an artistic eyeful:
Thanksgiving was one of the roughest weeks I have had this year. Technically, it was rougher on the kid than on me. But misery rolls downhill, like Jack and Jill, leaving you with a busted head and an empty pail.
I want to tell you about some incredible people I met at the Veteran’s Administration office building in Wyoming, MI a few weeks ago. Two nice gentleman had set up a table and were hoping to reach out to the community to invite members to join the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard through Operation Honor Guard U.S.
To be honest, I wasn’t drawn to the table by a strong desire to re-connect with my military past. No. There were other motivating factors…