Orchid Garden

When Anston called me up and asked me for a shooting session at the Orchid Garden, I hesitated in the first place, because I have made plans with another group of friends to go street shooting on the suggested Sunday morning. Nonetheless, it turned out that the street hunting plan got canceled and together with Anston, Fattien and the great Jasonmumbles, we attacked the Orchid Garden, KL with our various DSLR cameras (there were Canon, Nikon, and of course my Olympus). In case many of you wonder, yes, I usually do shoot with non-Olympus users, and they are really admirable photographers too.

All images in this entry were taken with Olympus DSLR E-5 and Zuiko Digital 50mm F2 Macro or 50-200mm F2.8-3.5 mk1. External Flash FL-36R used in some images, as mentioned.

A moth or butterfly? This dude is really tiny.

I do have phobia of bees or wasps, or any insects that can fly and sting. Macro photography has taught me to overcome this fear.

Fountain at the back.

Just your ordinary garden orchid.

Found a bird walking on the ground.

Searching for material to build a nest?

orchids. Thats why we were here, for the orchids right?

I don't think this is orchid.

A type of herb, cat's whiskers.

Green is green.

Closing in with my favourite new telephoto lens, the 50-200mm. Gosh, at 200mm F3.5, the shot was tack sharp. Marvelous lens !!!

Headshot of a boy who stared into my 50-200mm telephoto lens.

I prefer the previous shot's composition and direct eye contact, but I just cannot leave it monotone. Olympus colors and skin tone are just too nice it is a crime to not show it.

Frozen water, not ice.

One of the caretakers of the shops in the garden actually has a scorpion as a pet !! Scary

the great Jasonmumbles and Fattien

Another weird looking orchids. I know there are too few orchid photos, but if I posted everything orchid, it would have been rather boring, right?

Shooting flowers is not exactly something I can do very well. I believe that to be able to bring out the best of your subject, you need to know it well, and see the beauty of it. Come on, only girls like flowers, guys hate them. We have to spend ridiculously expensive sum of money just to buy something that would not last for more than a few days. No matter how beautiful the flowers may be, put it in front of my lens, I will never reproduce the beauty it deserves, because I just plainly do not see it. I think girls would generally fare better in shooting flowers. If I do not like flowers in the first place, then what the hell was I doing in the Orchid Garden? Open your eyes wider, and you will see a lot of other photography opportunities surrounding flowers.

Photography opportunities are always abundant, wherever you are, all you have to do is bring your camera with you, and start shooting away when the chance pops out.

I came across a very difficult shooting situation. There was a bee, hiding inside a white flower, as shown in the photograph below.

The shadow in the middle of the flower, was a bee.

Since the bee was hiding inside, it is impossible to shoot without flash (even if you bosst up to ISO 6400 you wont achieve enough shutter speed for small aperture use, say F/8-F/11 to achieve sufficient magnification factor in macro photography). However, it was not that straightforward, mounting your flash on your camera, surely the flash will not be able to reach the inside of the flower, because the flash head is on top of the camera, not being able to illuminate the inside of the flower. The best solution for this problem is to use ring-flash, where the light source fires directly from the edges of the lens.

Quick thinking (with some practical sense) suggested the use of off-camera wireless flash, hence placing the flash directly besides the macro lens, allowing the flash to be channeled straight into the inside of the flower, illuminating the bee. I managed to pull this off, with the following settings: Manual exposure control: shutter speed 1/80sec, Aperture F/11, ISO200, manual focus, TTL Flash (off camera wireless). The shot was not perfect, but it was good enough for me, for now.

The advantage of using wireless flash in macro photography, is the ability to bend the light to whichever direction you want it to go to.

A tighter crop from the previous image. The bee was collecting materials to make honey? Someone please share your knowledge, what do you think the bee was doing?

I know some people would keep arguing that "flash photography is optional, and is a preference" while proclaiming the fact that available light photography is the way to go. Seriously, the sooner you realize flash is NOT your enemy, and the wonders it can do for you and your photography, you will be opened to a whole new world of amazing photography opportunities. I have just demonstrated how crucial having an external flash around can be.

It was a slow Sunday, and my only day of rest for the week. I shall not over stress myself and just let the day pass by as I enjoy my shutter therapy with some good friends. Who cares if the shots are not praise-worthy or anything near technical perfection, there are times we get serious in nailing down that killer shot, there are times we just want to enjoy clicking the shutter button.

Photography is not a race, there is no finishing line. Photography is not a competition. I learned these wise philosophies from a good friend not too long ago.

How true, don't you agree?


  1. Yes, photography is not a race nor a competition. But some people just need to whack other people in this world. Sad but true.

  2. Ananda,
    Yeah, some people just have to prove their superiority by proving others wrong !! And showing how much better they are than others. That, is not a good way to enjoy photography.

  3. Robin,it's great to always read your blog and entry as well as all the interesting images that you have taken.And thanks for always sharing your shutter theraphy sessions and results.

  4. Thanks Tick Boon !!
    It is my pleasure to share my photography work and my thoughts here. It is a platform to gather feedback and a motivation for myself to continue shooting and improve further in photography.

  5. Robin,the bees very beautiful.Remind me when i was small always stung by the bees cause my hse got bees hive.. :)AmyLi

  6. I much prefer the picture of boy without eye contact. It looks gorgeus and the background is not distracting. That black and white one has some distracting background. I also like that last shot with the insect. Clever use of fill in flash. Nothing wrong in using flash during a sunny day!!! It helps to reduce contrast in very harsh light.

  7. not sure is it the bee is actually doing something or collecting something, judging the things scattered all over the body including the eye/head area, i would probably guessing, those are some plant's pollen as bee plays an important role to deliver and distributing pollens from flower to flower as to complete the cycle of plant's reproductive system.

    p.s: love your pictures, meow~

  8. Hello Amy,
    Thanks !! Gosh that must be a very painful experience.

  9. Bartosz
    Thanks for the compliments.
    While I do agree with the distracting background, somehow, the absence of eye contact fails to deliver the crucial connection between the subject and the viewer. I waited for the boy to look at me again, but the parents called him so he had to go. It was a spur of the moment shot, because I was actually shooting something else before I noticed the boy. Nonetheless, it would have been a lot better with the eye contact and the cleaner background. I guess that is life, we do not get everything together !! We are made to choose.

  10. Meow,
    Yeah, true, that could be the reproductive element from the plant that was carried around by the bee. And wow... I can actually see that through my lens !!! I can't believe that !!

  11. Robin,

    Wow! Really nice photos you got! I like your macro shot very much. Very well said on your opinion of utilizing flash in your photos. I find that you are really good with color & white balance! I always find myself struggles to work with colors. Bravo shots you got.

  12. Xuenphotoz,
    Thanks !! You are being too kind man, those are just ordinary shots. But I do love macro shots !!

  13. i like the las photo....nice...

  14. thanks funkye!!! I know you love macro too!

  15. your photos in the orchid garden are amazingly clear....are these straight out of the camera or did u do some editing in photoshop or something...

  16. andrew,
    I did post process the images. I adjusted the white balance a little, added lots of contrast, and cropped. I think it was the contrast part that made the images looked more crisp. you gotta admit anything outdoor under good sunlight will produce amazing colors

  17. Robin, you are truely an inspiration. I've just started out in photography with recent purchase of E-PL2. Reading your blog and seeing what you can do with your gears, just encouraging me to go out and hit the shutter. Keep up the good job. Always enjoy visiting your blog. Cheers!

  18. hello.ong!!!
    thank you so much for such kind remarks!! you are being yoo kind really. I am sure you are having fun and making great photographs with your PEN also. yes, keep that shutter clicking man.

  19. Wow, very nice series you have there!

  20. Absolutely stunning! I really hope to be able to do something similar with the PEN e-P3 if it ever comes out.... *wistful sigh* ~Cori in Oregon

  21. Oh! I see that it is in stock at Amazon and probably other places. I was supposed to get an email... LOL YAY! I can order it now. :) ~Cori in Oregon

  22. Hello Cori,
    I am sure you will be able to do the same with your coming E-P3 !! You do need a macro lens to get those extreme magnification though.

  23. hello sintaicharles,
    thanks mate!!

  24. Thank you Robin, that is helpful as I am still learning about lenses. I'm close to clicking "order" but need to decide on which lens(es) I want now and later. Cori in Oregon

  25. The bee is collecting nectar as food. The white things are the flower's pollen, which attaches to the bee as it moves around different flowers, helping the plants to mate.

  26. Its a butterfly, coz they rest with wings in clapped position, while moths' wings are usually wide open... =)