On almost the last day of this past February, I visited the Pacific Orchid Exposition at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco. Yes, that would make it February 28, and the Expo was on from the 26th to the 28th over a long weekend. Organized by the San Francisco Orchid Society, the Expo is in its 64th edition.
Parking turned out to be a challenge, as on Sundays at Fort Mason there is also a Farmers’ Market going on. After going around for a while I finally found parking along the Marina, and as we got out of the car… pouf!, the driver of a minivan asks us if we are headed to the Orchid Expo and would we like a ride. I said we were, and how did he know?
“It’s because you are wearing orchid halos!” The ride was free, and arranged by the show organizers specifically to help with the parking overflow, but a driver that manages to stay friendly throughout a long day of going back and forth within a two-mile distance deserves a tip. And he got one!
Parking may have been a challenge, but, as you can see, it was definitely worth it. Actually, in a way, you are getting to enjoy the show from the best seat in the house, without the parking hassle, and without the crowds. Talking about the crowds: I noticed that hardly anyone visiting the expo was walking around actually looking at the orchids. About eighty-five percent of the visitors were taking photographs: with serious cameras, with not so serious ones, with snazzy new smart phones, with crappy old-style ones, with iPads and tablets… That included yours truly, of course!
Sometimes I wonder about the value of always photographing everything. For a while, several years ago, when traveling during vacation time, I made a point of not taking photos in an attempt to be more present. But you know, lately I have realized that, because our memories are selective, and we do not really remember full days and weeks, but moments, taking photographs, when done right – that is, taking the time to look for the shot, maybe wait for the light, focus and click the shutter – actually helps us being present. Afterwards, we have images to plump up those memories, helping us fill in the blanks. Not that carrying around a heavy camera and accessories is always fun, but in the end it seems to be worth it. At least for me it is, because I am really enjoying these images, and I hope you are, too. I used my Nikon D2X, by the way, with my 50mm f/1.4 lens.
The Expo took place in a very large, high-ceilinged, warehouse-style building within the Fort Mason compound, and was divided into two main sections: the orchids in competition, and those for sale. All of it was stunning! Orchids are such lush flowers, and come in such a variety of design and colors. I had not seen these many since visiting a nursery in Volcano on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and that was years ago.
I have done my best to not post doubles of each type of orchid I photographed. I ended up with about two-hundred images, and I know I did not manage to photograph all that was on display that day. It was sometimes hard to juggle my way among photo takers. Some were quite intent in getting there first, even if they had arrived last, without consideration or manners. I will not mention who, as I do not wish to generalize a whole nationality, but maybe you can guess. They are the same everywhere I have been, even in Hawai’i.
This post is edited down to less than half of that, so just sit back and enjoy. I know it would be difficult to pick just one, but I would love to know which is your favorite, so please let me know in the comments.
I hope you have enjoyed the show. For the orchid lovers among you who are bummed at having missed this event, know that the San Francisco Orchid Society organizes other events throughout the year. The next one coming up will be Orchids in the Park, and will take place next July at the Golden Gate Park.