The Calypso Orchid
May of 2016 in Fairbanks has been a big leap into the Spring season, with early green up and a few days of record temperatures. All of this wonderful weather has no doubt influenced the early blossoms of a beautiful orchid that I spotted while on a trail in the Fairbanks area. There is a familiar cast of floral characters that appear across the landscape throughout Alaska’s warmer months. They define the period of summer, and their color becomes associated with certain months. But every once in a while, I come across a flower I have not seen, and that was the case this May. The Calypso Orchid, also known as the Fairy Slipper, is known to grow in northern regions, and while it has a world wide distribution, it is classified as a threatened or endangered species in some places due to its susceptibility to disturbance.
Some Photography Considerations
I returned to photograph these blossoms, and I used a few different lenses, and a small tripod that made ground level shooting possible. When executing macro photography, depth of field becomes a major challenge. The 100mm lens I used has an aperture of f/2.8, which creates a beautiful, blurred out background. And one learns quickly that the background becomes as important as the foreground in these situations. The challenge with f/2.8 is that the depth of focus area is extremely limited. The compromise (besides focus stacking–which I won’t get into here) is finding an f/stop that captures an acceptable depth of focus for the flower, while maintaining a diffused background. The depth of field preview button is a huge help when making this evaluation.
Compare the first two photos below.
- #1 is taken at f/6.3
- #2 is taken at f/3.5
I like the background on #2 but the flowers were a little bit too blurry, so I settled for f/6.3.