Friday, August 5, 2022

Purple Fringeless Orchid

A stunning Purple Fringeless Orchid (Platanthera peramoena) grows in a rich bottomland forest. It and others were along the margins of an irregularly inundated overflow channel of a nearby stream.

I made a trip into Zaleski State Forest (Vinton County, Ohio) on July 28 of this year, in large part to look for this amazing orchid. It is fairly easy to find in this region, and in places is along the roadsides. This plant and the following were off the beaten path, though - bit of a hike up a trail, then a bushwhack down to the bottomland and voila! There they were. As a bonus, I located a handful of Cranefly Orchids (Tipularia discolor) in flower.

A closer view of the ornately structured flowers. A nearby plant had a much more densely flowered spike, but I prefer these more open inflorescences if one may be choosy about their Purple Fringeless Orchids.

Various swallowtail butterflies and hummingbird moths in the genus Hemaris visit the flowers during the day, and next year (perhaps) I will return to an orchid patch and sit, wait, and try to photograph the pollinators in action. These are all diurnal pollinators, and I don't know if there is a night shift of moths that visits the flowers.

PHOTO NOTES: This is a big plant, up to three feet in height and sporting lengthy spikes of flowers. Thus, I used a big lens: my Canon 400mm f/2.8 II, on a tripod of course. I prefer telephotos for certain flower photography, as the beautifully blurred bokeh is very complementary to the subject. The second shot was made at f/8, 1/13, and ISO 320. My only real job was to choose an angle that didn't have other vegetation immediately behind the subject. Stopping down three stops brought more depth of field to the flowers, but still did not pull in background distractions. Because of the dim light and my desire to keep the ISO low, a SLOW shutter speed was required. But as there was mostly no wind, that wasn't a problem. No flash - that would have created a black background, not the look I was after. Also, flash can impart a harshness that I don't really care for with plants.

The first shot was made with Canon's 16-35mm f/2.8 II, a superb ultra-wide angle. The lens was dialed in to 22mm. By the way, both images were made with the Canon R5. Settings for the first image were f/11, 1/13, and ISO 320 - same as the second other than the aperture. Something really critical with the use of ultra-wide lenses is to get CLOSE to your subject. I probably had the lens six inches or so - maybe less - to that orchid. If an anchor subject isn't close enough, wide-angle shots can look unmoored and somewhat featureless. An obvious and interesting foreground subject sets a tone and draws the viewer's eye into the image.


1 comment:

Woody Meristem said...

Great photos and commentary -- thank you. I've only once seen a cranefly orchid, about 100 miles south of us, it was found by a fellow orchid photographer. We have few native orchids left in northcentral PA -- white-tailed deer have eaten them into oblivion.