Taking Pictures of Orchids

Everyone likes pictures of orchids! Here, you'll learn some techniques for doing your own orchid photography. (If you came to this page looking for a photo gallery, look at my list of orchid types, which has many pictures of orchids.) Photography, of course, is an art form: I'll still leave plenty to your own creativity! Anything you learn about macro photography anywhere else probably applies to taking pictures of orchids too.
Pictures of Orchids

When taking orchid photos, pay attention to lighting! Sunlight is usually best, as you can get weird color balance issues otherwise, and a flash often leaves unsightly shadows. What direction do you want the light coming from? If the light comes from behind you as you're taking the photo, this usually works well if you can avoid casting a shadow on the orchid! Some orchids look best when backlit: often additional colors appear in light as it's transmitted through the flowers. But you generally don't want the light source to be in the image, or the photo will get washed out and the plant will just look like a dark splotch!

Use the best camera you can. Digital SLRs work well, and there are WAY too many types for me to review here! Point-and-shoot cameras work fine as well. Your cell phone's camera is generally not such a good choice, but if it's all you have handy, go for it! A tripod is also a useful piece of equipment, as it holds the camera much more steadily than is possible holding it in your hands. There's no quicker way to ruin pictures of orchids than camera shake!

Choose your depth of field carefully. Do you want a narrow range of distances to be in focus, so that the background is blurred (short depth of field, wide aperture)? Or do you want whatever's in the background to be clearly focused (long depth of field, narrow aperture)? Narrow apertures let in less light, so the shutter speed will be slower; this increases the risk of motion blur, making a tripod more helpful.

In your pictures of orchids, decide carefully where to place the frame: do you want to take a picture of the whole plant, or just a flower? Should it be landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical)? Is there something ugly in the background that you want to leave out? It's often a good idea to have the subject off-center, such as 1/3 of the way from the side of the picture. (Painters have been doing this for a long time in composing portraits; it works equally well in photographs.) It's generally a good idea to move the camera closer to or further from the subject rather than playing with zoom, if you want the best picture quality.

You can use Photoshop and other tools on digital images to improve color balance and exposure; nice features in Photoshop for this include "Curves" and "Auto Levels."

Of course, there's way more to orchid photography than I can possibly say here. Do your own experimentation! (It's fun.)

Post YOUR best pictures of orchids!

I'd like to see your best orchid photography! Post photos, and talk about any techniques you used to take them, equipment, and anything else of interest about the photo.

Say how you grew the orchid, too! (And identify it!)

Other Visitors' Photos

Click the links below to see photos from other visitors to this page...

Oncidium type - I call it the Tiger 
Took the photo with my iPhone 4s. Do not remember where I got it. One of my first bloomers in the winter, and they always last at least a few weeks to …

Took the photo with my iPhone 4s. Do not remember where I got it, but it's one of my favorites. Love the deep burgundy veining.

Unknown species... need help identifying... 
Took photos with my iPhone 4s. Plant was a hand-me-down from my mother-in-law when she moved into an apartment. I have been growing in my backyard, hanging …

I love taking photos especially of my orchids (I have two). I try to get creative when taking my photos. For example I often play around with lighting …

I enjoy taking pictures period. And when you have a beautiful flower in the room it's hard not to photograph it. It takes a few tries and adjustments of …

Phalenopsis Hybrid - Dtps. Fuller's Sunset 
Took the photo with my iPhone 4s. Probably got it as a cast off from someone in the office about to kill the plant after it was done blooming. I get …

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