Hard to see among the debris at the forest floor, the tiny Calypso orchid can be photographed when conditions are right on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais for brief periods in the spring. I have been photographing the Mt Tamalpais Calypso orchid, Calypso bulbosa, also sometimes called a ‘Fairy slipper,’ for years. You can see a couple of my other photos of this marvelous flower, and read a bit about its background, in Close Encounters with Calypso.
Yesterday Mark and I headed in search of the elusive Calypso as a dense fog swirled around Mount Tamalpais. By the time we found the first specimens, hiding among old leaves beneath tall trees on a steep and muddy slope, the clouds were intermittently breaking up.
As I got to work I found that I was struggling to get my tripod low enough to the ground. Photographing this flower from above just didn’t work. So I improvised a sling made of my hat, twigs, and some raw earth, and finally got the camera stable enough to make this fairly long exposure (2/5 of a second).
Here’s an iPhone photo Mark snapped of me at work photographing Calypso:
Exposure data: 105mm macro lens, 36mm extension tube, 2/5 of a second at f/18 and ISO 200, improvised earth-and-hat camera platform.