Monday, March 12, 2012

A Delight- US Botanic Garden

Once a year, the US Botanic Garden hosts an open house at their production facility across the Anacostia River in DC.  Pam and I can thank our daughter Liz for learning about this event.  It was a special way to celebrate our 46th wedding anniversery, and to do it with our daughter. We were lucky to have a sunny and unusually warm March day too.

The Botanic Garden is best known for their conservatory near the US Capital on the Mall. The clearest recollection I have of my first visit to Washington as young boy is the conservatory and the wonderful orchids. That was nearly sixty years ago.  So, visiting their green houses was greatly anticipated. 

As we entered, the staff was clearly excited to have this opportunity to show off their facility from the sophisticated climate control to the wondrous collection of flora. Perhaps my boyhood recollections of the orchids most strongly directed me to the orchid area. This is where all of the real work occurs to deliver a beautifully flowering plant to the conservatory.

We were quickly welcomed by Clive Atyeo, one of their many expert gardeners.  The time melted away as our host shared so many details of the nurturing that goes into the orchids. 

These are master gardeners who expertly optimize temperature, sunlight, humidity and nutrients in a clean environment with amazing results. I realized later that I had failed to write the names of the orchids in my notes, so you'll have to forgive me for not being able to include the proper names of the blooms. Just enjoy, as we did.

This is one of the Lady Slipper orchids, probably of the Cypripedium genus.  I was taken by the small size of the bloom compared to the wild Cypripedium acaule that I love to find in the New York woodlands.  In addition to the beauty of orchids, the range of sizes amazes me as they can be as small as a pea or as large as a softball. 

Those who know me would expect I carried a large photo pack, with advanced digital SLR camera, tripod and multiple lenses, but that was not the case for this day. I continued my quest to use the iPhone camera when possible, and only backed that up with a Canon G9 point and shoot. So, let's just continue with photos that record the wonders of the Botanic Garden.  I'll caption those with the iPhone.  All images have minimal editing.

Here are three images that show some of the variety in bloom arrangement and size.

Canon G9


Canon G9
  There are also varieties that produce large clusters of flowers.  Wonderful to see in many different colors.

There were other beautiful flowers and succulents, such as this cactus and yes, Amaryllis, unlike what I have seen in the flower shops.
So, the morning at the US Botanic Garden was a delight for a wide range of visitors including children.  The staff was excited to show what they are accomplishing on that one day a year where they are open to the public.  I have already placed a reminder on my calendar for next year.

Paul Schmitt

 Postscript for the photographer

If you are following the differences between iPhone and G9 photos, there are lessons about what each can do, and what it's best to avoid. First, the size of the iPhone allows you to get into very low or odd positions not possible with a bigger camera.   That is a plus.  Since the iPhone lens has a very wide angle lens, it is key to look at the background as much as the subject. If it is cluttered away from the subject, then the G9 with the zoom lens can crop out the background.  If the iPhone can get close and show no background, it works. However,  then you must also check that you are not too close to focus.  So, to isolate a subject, the point and shoot still has the advantage.   I also found that I rejected many iPhone photos because the sunny day created very bright areas that the wide angle lens included. The light burned out the pixels.  Best to work in the shade or on cloudy days.  Since you cannot adjust the exposure manually to compensate for over-exposure, the exposure adjustments on the point and shoot win the day. Still, it is fun to see what the iPhone can do, and sometimes it will be the only camera to have with you.

1 comment:

  1. WOW beautiful colorful photos Paul. I'm not an "i-person", so I don't really know much about i-phones, and I am absolutely amazed with the captures with it. Today's technology really is something. And maybe I need to start looking into the i-phones myself. I cannot pick a favorite, I love every one of them! :-)