For the past five years, I have been documenting the orchids in my collection (primarily Dendrobium species) using digital photography. These photographs are archived and annotated as part of the documentation and record keeping of the collection. They are also shared with members of orchid groups and used to illustrate talks I give to societies.
However, the 2D digital images have inherent disadvantages. For one, 2D images depict a single view from one angle. They often fail to adequately capture the morphology (shape and depth) of flowers, particularly complex flowers such as Dendrobium tobaense. Furthermore, floral parts such as ovary, spur, mentum may be hidden and are often not depicted. Subtleties of contour, texture, shape and unifying beauty of the orchid flower are lost. This is important both for educational purposes (maximising the “Wow!” factor), taxonomic accuracy and for proper record keeping.
Since the New Year, I have been working on a project which explores to capture "3D" images of orchids using Quicktime VR Object technology. Quicktime VR object movies can be manipulated by the viewer using his or her mouse. Dragging the cursor across the movie rotates the object, allowing the viewer to see other aspects of the object.
This project was made possible by a generous grant from the Barbara Everard Trust for Orchid Conservation.
Initial results have been encouraging - watch this space!