For the past 150 years, the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St. Louis, MO has maintained one of the finest collections of Orchids from around the world. They maintain over 7,000 types of Orchids in their collection at the Orthwein Floral Display Hall. Every year for a month in February, the Missouri Botanical Gardens presents a stunning display of Orchids within a theme. I was lucky enough to be given access to the display the day before show opens. This years theme is Vanilla.
Everyone knows what vanilla is, but many people do not realize that Vanilla actually comes from an Orchid. Vanilla Orchids are grown around the world, but most originated from Mesoamerica, which includes parts of what is now Mexico and Guatemala. Today the biggest production of Vanilla comes from Madagascar and Indonesia.
When you walk into the Orchid Show it is like walking into a large tropical rain forest garden, with paths to lead you thru a maze of beautiful growth. Everywhere you look there are Orchids and tropical plants.
Some Orchids are quite large, while others are very tiny. Every year I shoot this exhibit I am overwhelmed when I arrive. All I can think is how do I capture all this beauty? It kinds feels like being a kid in a candy store. You take one image, turn and think “Oh, . . look at that!”
I shot these images with a Super Color Converted Canon 7DMKII. Even though I brought other lenses, in the end I only used a 40mm, f2.8 STM, and a 70-200L f2.8 lens. Most of the images were made with an f-stop of 2.8 to 5.6. I used auto exposure bracketing with 7 exposures one quarter stop each way. I set a white balance using one of the many large leaves surrounding the Orchids. I did use a tripod, however they wanted me to mention that tripods are unfortunately not allowed during the show. In previous years I have gone back after the show opened to take more images and have been able to get decent exposures without stabilization.
If you at all close to St Louis, the show is worth a visit.
The Missouri Botanical Gardens Orchid Show is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from February 4 to March 26 at 4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org