Two Photo Venture members reported back on the field trip to Hilltop Orchid Farm on January 19, 2013. Here's what Bill Wills and and Jeff Engel had to say (and click here to see their photos from the day):

Bill Wills:

The PVCC field trip for January was to the Hilltop Orchid Farm, Cloverdale, Indiana. It was a great trip with an outstanding opportunity to take pictures of some of the most perfect orchids I have seen. Hilltop is owned by Dick Wells and has over 60,000 blooming orchids, all under one roof (about 1/4 of an acre). Dick was very accommodating, allowing us to go anywhere we wished and move the plants around to put them in better light or make them more accessible to the lens. He invited us to come back anytime.

About 12 club members finally made the trip, carrying with us all sorts of camera gear...macro lenses, tripods, reflectors, black & white backdrops, LED panel fill lights, ring lights, etc. The lighting was natural sunlight through diffusers on the roof making it a soft, perfect for taking flower pictures. Being inside made it the ideal trip for an Indiana blustery January day. We spent about 2 hours and took hundreds of pictures (maybe thousands). The results looked great on the camera viewscreens. I'm looking forward to seeing the results at an upcoming club meeting.

A good time was had by all.

Jeff Engel's report:

As a photographer, a couple things become quickly apparent when you enter Hilltop Orchid Farm in Cloverdale.

First, the greenhouse is a photographer's paradise. The variety, colors and sizes of Orchid spieces is like nothing seen before. From yellows and reds to pinks and whites. Some varieties blooms are smaller then your fingertip, while others proliferate to sizes larger than your whole hand. A couple varieties even take on very humanoid and ghostly characteristics. Looking closely at the details on any one single plant combined with different lighting techniques means you could spend an hour or more modeling a single plant.

Second, the warm welcome by owner/curator Dick Wells is matched only by the extremely high humidity some Orchids need to survive. Dick’s 50 years of experience really shows. He’s more then generous with his time and expertise. He’s more then willing to discuss anything from how to take care of the orchids to running and operating a greenhouse.While the warm and humid greeting makes one feel right at home on a cold winter day, the humidity wreaks havoc on the photography equipment. It’s best to acclimate your equipment to the environmental conditions before exposing it to the humidity. I had the pleasure of creating a wide variety of foggy, soft focus images for nearly an hour while my lenses adapted to the conditions.

If you're looking for some new and different orchid varieties to photograph, or simply interested in purchasing some orchids and would like to learn about the care and growing of them, I can't recommend a visit to Hilltop Orchids enough. Mr. Wells will make sure you leave with instructions for care and he'll even attempt to ensure you leave with a good image or two.

For info and directions to get to Hilltop Orchids.....