Member Snapshot: Shoo Peng Siah

Our new club secretary Shoo has been a member of the club for a few years now and her photos of native orchids have been featured several times in past issues of our newsletter. Here, she kindly shares with us her story on her interest with Australian native orchids.


Q: How did you come to be an orchid enthusiast?

Shoo: I’ve always liked flowers – first it was roses, then kangaroo paws, then Cymbidiums.  My interest in terrestrial orchids came about by chance when I discovered some very unusual but pretty looking flowers while out walking.  Turns out they were native orchids.  I also found that I liked delicate native orchids. 


Q: Do you mainly take photos of native orchids or do you also grow some?

 Shoo: Both. I enjoy the thrill of discovering a beautiful terrestrial that I’ve only ever seen on the pages of a book or on a website.  I also have a very small collection of orchids acquired from generous friends (including John Hurst – thank you) and some vendors at Orchid shows. 

Q: Which are your favourite native orchids and why?

 Shoo: I have so many favourites, not just one - Spider or Forest Mantis, Diurus, Sun orchids, Bearded orchids.  I would love to see a Flying duck (Caleana) or Small flying duck (Paracaleana) in its natural environment – they look quite comical and yet life-like. 


Q: How often do you do your photo safaris and mainly what areas do you visit?

 Shoo: I am lucky to be living adjacent to a Lane Cove National Park so will look out for them whenever I go for a walk, perhaps once or twice a month. Right now, I’m waiting on some Dipodiums and Cryptostylis to bloom. This year, I was lucky enough to go on a wildflower (orchid) driving trip with my sister to WA / SA.  I am hooked and hope to visit both spots again in the near future. 

Kalbarri Cowslip orchid

Caladenia flava subsp. maculate

Boyup Brook WA

Common Spider Orchid Caladenia vulgate - Boyup Brook WA

Q: What was the most memorable photo shoot you've experienced?

Shoo: That would be my WA/ SA trip this year. I joke that I now have a favourite church and golf club in all of Australia (because of all the terrestrials that we found in both locations, in the same township too!).  Somewhere by the roadside, of Adelaide hills, we also saw quite a variety of terrestrials. I’m also excited that my sister now knows how to recognise some terrestrials.


Q: What was the worst mistake you ever made taking photos of native orchids?

Shoo: Not having the batteries of my camera charged – it meant that I had to use my phone camera to take some blurry photos. 


Q: What would you advise novices thinking of or just starting out doing bush walks and taking photos of native plants in general?

Shoo: Safety first – watch out for snakes.  If you’re unfamiliar with a walking track, go with a friend. Carry a mobile phone with good reception. Bring water, especially if you’re going for several hours.


As for tips on taking photos of native plants – know your camera well or you’ll take plenty of blurry photos like me. I probably take 10 blurry photos (or more) for every good one. 

Q: What do you like about our club ANOS Sydney Group and what activity do you enjoy (or look forward to doing) the most?

Shoo: I feel very welcomed at our club meetings and was lucky to participate in the recent October bushwalk.  I look forward to more! I also love looking, smelling and learning about all the different orchids from our enthusiastic members.


Q: What is on your photo shoot wish list?

Shoo: My photo shoot wish list - definitely seeing the Flying duck and small flying duck in their natural environment.  

In the walking track adjacent to my home, I remember seeing white caladenia and sun orchids in two different spots. Several years ago, I noted that there were a number of holes where the white caladenias were.  I no longer see white caladenias there. This year, I was eagerly awaiting the sun orchids to bloom in the second spot. One week when I returned to take photos, I noted two holes where the orchids were.  While it is possible that these orchids may have been dug up by animals, it is also possible that they were removed by someone who fancied them.  Please leave them where they grow so that the seed pods and tubers can multiply, and we can all enjoy these beauties for years to come.  

Photos by Shoo Peng Siah and Shoo Lin Siah

Coastal Donkey Orchid

Diuris aff. corymbosa

Adelaide Hills SA

Sun Orchid

Thelymitra aff. macrophylla

near Esperance WA

Forest Mantis Orchid

Caladenia attingens 

Ravensthrope WA