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Habenaria rhodocheila (reprise)

This is a discussion on Habenaria rhodocheila (reprise) within the Photography Archive 1 forums, part of the Orchid Photography category; The initial photo I posted was of a just-opened flower. Over time, the lip expanded ...

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  1. #1
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    Default Habenaria rhodocheila (reprise)

    The initial photo I posted was of a just-opened flower. Over time, the lip expanded a bit and a few more flowers opened up higher on the spike. I also changed the lighting a bit to pick up some of the texture on the lip...all around, this seems like a better photo. The second photo is one of the full spike. As you can see, there are lots more buds yet to open.





    ---Prem

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    Prem, your photographs are incredibly professional (I'm sure you already know that, but still....) I'm just learning about lighting myself, so am always eager to find out more. Are you using natural light? If not, how are you avoiding a flash shadow on your background?

    Like I said before, I've never even heard of the orchid you posted, let alone seen one. Where are they found growing?

    Thanks again for posting these!

  3. #3
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    Default re: Hab. rhodocheila

    Hi Louis,
    These orchids hail from southern China and neighboring countries. Mine was purchased (I believe) from Louis del Faverro when he came to speak at our orchid society. I know Andy's Orchids carries these as well (I just purchased a pink form from them). Here are some cultural notes on the plants.

    Cultural requirements:

    These are a deciduous terrestrial...not deciduous like Calanthes that die back to an above-ground pseudobulb...the above-ground portion of this plant dies every year, leaving a small underground tuber.

    Potting should be in a peaty potting soil mixed with a bit of fine bark chips and perlite thrown in for aeration.

    I'll start with the autumn/winter, as the plants start to die back. The growths will turn yellow, then brown and die. Wait until they are nice and crispy before removing, then they should pull free of the tuber without uprooting it. During this time, you can repot if you need to. The tubers will look like small sweet potatoes. Be sure to get all of them, as these plants tend to produce several new tubers for the upcoming season (i.e. they multiply).

    Watering for dormancy should be kept to a minimum. Some folks claim that you should keep the medium bone dry. I kept mine slightly moist...a few drops of water dripped on the soil every few days.

    Once they come out of dormancy, begin watering more frequently, trying to keep water out of the centers of the growths (the leaves tend to form a hollow tube which can easily catch water).

    As they continue to grow, keep quite moist...these are lowland/wet soil plants, so they need more moisture than your standard epiphyte. Provide intermediate-to-warm temperatures and medium light. Fertilize sparingly...probably about 1/4 to 1/2 what you give your other orchids. I use mostly distilled water for mine, but I know others who use tap water without any problems.

    The largest growths will end up producing flowers, while smaller growths will just produce a few leaves, gathering strength to become a blooming sized growth within the next year or two.

    And that, in a nutshell is the cultural regime for Habenaria rhodocheila.

    ---Prem

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    Thanks, prem. I think one of these would be worth getting just for the novelty of them. Plus, I like that the cultural requirements and media are different than for most other orchids. Feels like a new challenge...

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    Default re: lighting and camera setup

    The camera I used for this photo is a Sony Digital Mavica MVC CD400 camera. It produces a 4 megapixel image and has really good macro capabilities (as well as an aperture that will go to the max of f8.0, giving a reasonable amount of depth-of-field for those closeup shots). The next camera I have my eye on is a Canon Digital Rebel, but that's not in the budget right now.

    My "studio" is in our kitchen. For lighting I use a 500 watt quartz halide worklight for the main light. I'll sometimes use a desklamp with a 60 watt incandescent as a shadow fill light. The quartz halide is suspended from the ceiling using bungee cords hooked on plant hooks that I've screwed into the ceiling. Another bungee cord is stretched across the kitchen and hooked onto a spice rack to provide extra stability. Yes, this is an extremely "cobbled-together" setup! The light is typically set up so that is is above and to the left of the subject, but I'll experiment with the optimum placement (sometimes strong backlighting can make for stunningly dramatic photos).

    This last photo used an experimental setup with the light that I'm quite pleased with...I purchased a glass cutting board from box store, wired it to the front grille of the light and worked it over with sandpaper to scratch and diffuse the surface...this softens the light a bit more to my liking.

    I will often use sheets of aluminum foil placed beneath the plant to reflect some extra light back onto the subject. I also usually leave the kitchen lights on (two fluorescent fixtures) to provide some additional fill light.

    I drape a piece of cloth (typically black, but not always) behind the subject. Since the light is hitting it obliquely, I don't usually end up with much light on the backdrop.

    I do post-process my digital images in Photoshop and/or Corel Photopaint....I'll adjust the equalization so that the blacks are near (or totally) black, and the highlights are near white. I'll also color correct if the color tone captured by the camera is a bit off. If there are specks of dust or minute blemishes on the flower, I'll also use the clone stamp brush to remove them.

    And that, in a not-so-concise nutshell, is how I do my photos.

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    Well, cobbled together or not, it's a setup you've obviously grown accustomed to and can accomodate to your liking in terms of bringing out subtlety and nuance in your subects. That's a level of expertise I'm nowhere near approaching. It's going to take a lot more experimentation and time before I'll come close.

    (But at least my photos are quite a bit better than they were even just two months ago, and Pete had a strong hand in that, so I'm trying to learn from everyone who knows more about it than I do.) Thanks for explaining your process!

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