Yellow phalaenopsis orchid

Keeping it simple today, just a few flower photos, but done a different way. These images were all done with a telephoto lens.  The first and last images in the series were done with a 70-200 mm lens along with an extension tube to allow a super close focus.  Those shots are focus stacks as well.  The middle shot was just grabbed in the moment.  Just because your lens is too long, go for it anyway.

The yellow flowers are Phalaenopsis orchids, more commonly known as Moth Orchids. This group was taken in the conservatory at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. I just loved the soft and subtle colors. Plus the conservatory usually provides a slightly filtered light so there are no harsh highlights and shadows. Atmosphere is everything.

Pollinating Bee on Hibiscus

The carpenter bee pollinating an early Hibiscus bloom was a quick snapshot caught while walking through the garden. I just happened to have the 70-200mm lens mounted, so it was a matter of framing the shot, dialing in the focus and clicking the shutter. It was a bright day with very thin cloud cover so I set the aperture at f/4.5 which gave me 1/2000th at ISO 200. Perfect for this type of shot. It helps when mother natures gives you a near perfect setup.


Digitalis Purpurea - native Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea. This shot was taken in my own back yard. I used the A77 with a Sigma 70-200mm lens and a Kenko extension tube for the capture. These are great flowers for a home garden. In the south they do well in the margins between full sun and shade. The colors are great and the spikes along with the trumpet shaped blooms add a lot of visual interest.

The first and last shots were focus stacks using a normal telephoto lens and extension tubes. For those not familiar with extension tubes, it’s merely a hollow adapter that moves the back of the lens further away from the image sensor. This allows the lens to focus very close to the subject. It also means the depth of field becomes very shallow. It’s a cheap way to turn a high quality, long focal length lens into a macro lens.  That’s all you need to get great flower photos.

If you want to get a shot with more depth of field than a macro lens or extension tube will allow, then a focus stack is the way to go.

First, be sure to mount the camera on a very sturdy tripod. The mount has to be rock solid. I use the camera’s focus peaking feature to set the focus on the point closest to me. Take a frame, then manually move the focus slightly rearward. It can take several shots to get the depth of field Always shoot raw when doing this. The shots can then be blended into a single frame using the panorama features of your image editing software. There are also some free or low cost editing applications available, just search on “focus stack.”

The process is not as hard as it sounds. If there is interest, I might do a complete tutorial. Use the comment section to let me know what you think.


Factoid Fun
Broccoli is actually an edible flower. The green “heads” are the flower buds. If left to their own they would blossom into yellow flowers. Legend has it that when children eat broccoli it helps them blossom into adults. Maybe the story will encourage your children to eat their veggies.


Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden

North of England Orchid Society