This past Saturday was opening day for the annual Orchid show, Orchidelirium at the New York Botanical Gardens. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking, “Really! Cate these are the same old orchids you shoot every year!” Yeah I know, I know, I know but I can’t help myself, being among these beautiful exotic blossoms feels so good when you’ve been up to your eyeballs in winter. For one thing, it’s warm, second it’s colorful, fragrant and relaxing, and lastly and most importantly it’s fun challenging myself to take new and exciting images of the things I’ve shot many times before.
I arrived at the gardens early, just before the doors to the conservatory opened and, as is my wont when walking with my camera, I became distracted. I love trees the most when they have lost all their leaves and reveal their bare twisted limbs and the walk up to the conservatory is through the Benenson Ornamental Conifers. Within this grove are a few non-conifers that are my favorites as they are not only extremely gnarly but, they grow low to the ground and there is one, an old geezer tree, supported by a pair of crutches.
The morning was crisp and cold and as I walked into the warm moist climate of the conservatory my lens immediately fogged, so the first few images have a walking-in-a-dream quality to them. I was pleasantly surprised that it was fairly empty just a handful of people, mostly photographers; it pays to get there early. This year there really weren’t as many “new” orchids as there were last year though, what was there and how they were displayed was beautiful. And another great reason to get there early is the orchids have had their morning shower and are studded with tiny clear pearls of water.
My lens finally clear, I walked through the whole conservatory visiting all the collections housed under its gleaming glass roof. I back tracked to capture images of flowers or plants that had been in shadow but, as the sun moved across the sky, were now sitting in a beam of yellow light and ready for their close-ups. I also shot towards the window’s diffused light to blow out the background and impart a more dynamic look to the orchids.
After two hours it started to get crowded and I bid goodbye to the hothouse atmosphere of the conservatory and walked out into the sun and welcoming cool air. I had an hour before my train so, I strolled over to the Mitsubishi Wetlands to capture more of the bare trees and bushes, some of which had a rich red or golden brown tint to them. While surveying the scenery around me I looked down and at my foot was a tiny purple and white flower. Crocus! Yes, groundhog be damned! When these little jewels appear spring is here.