- Canon EOS 450D
- Sigma DC 18-50 f2.8 EX lens
- An intact dandelion clock
- Black bed sheet
- Too much time on my hands
- A healthy amount of anal retentiveness
Step 1 – find a healthy looking dandelion clock
This proved to be an easy task. I went down to my local park and they were there in abundance. I selected the best looking one then realised what step two would entail….
Step 2 – get in-tact dandelion clock back home
Given these things have evolved to be masters of wind borne seed dispersal this was not as easy as I first thought. Let’s just say my journey home attracted a few strange looks from passers-by.
Step 3 – set up studio
My original plan was to photograph the dandelion in colour against a black background. I hung the black bed sheet on the wall behind the dining room table which was positioned next to a south facing window for optimum natural light conditions. I set up my tripod and placed a reflector (home made from scrunched up tin-foil stuck to a piece of card. Hey – it works brilliantly) opposite the window to reflect some natural light and fill the shadows.
Step 4 – get photographing!
The first photo was of the whole dandelion clock. This proved to be the easiest shot as it was a case of simply holding the dandelion in front of the lens. I don’t own a dedicated macro lens (though I would love one) but my trusty Sigma lens has a very close minimum focussing distance which came in very handy here. I shot at the maximum focal length of 50mm and went for an aperture of f11 to give good overall sharpness but soften the edges of the seeds.
Step 5 – deconstruct
Once I was happy with the ‘full clock’ photo I started the deconstructed images. I began by carefully removing an individual seed using a secretly commandeered pair of Leanne’s eyebrow tweezers (shhh.. don’t tell her) and positioning it in front of the lens, rooted in a blob of blu-tack. I moved the camera in as close as my lens would allow at 50mm and shot at f16 for good depth of field. All that was left was a bit of Photoshop work to re-create the bottom of the seed that had been lost in the blu-tack.
Step 6 – the ring of irritation (yes, I realise how that sounds…)
I had subconsciously left the most challenging shot until last. I wanted a perfect circle of individual dandelion seeds to mirror the shape of the original dandelion clock but show a simple, uncluttered composition highlighting the essence of the dandelion. All very well in theory – not so easy in practice! Employing the same blu-tack tweezer method as for the single seed I intricately placed 7 seeds in a perfect semi-circle…… did I say perfect semi-circle? Well, after reviewing the first batch of shots they were all far from perfect. This is where I had to draw on my many hours of playing Operation as a child. If I could remove all those organs without a single buzz then I could damn well make a perfect semi-circle of dandelion seeds! After a LOT of intricate tweezer work I eventually got a shot I was happy with (the persistence and healthy amount of anal retentiveness well and truly used up by this point).
Next up was a lot of intricate Photoshop work to clone out the blu-tack and re-create the missing seed ends.
Step 7 – Computer time
To create the full circle of seeds I took the semi-circle image and flipped it 180 degrees to create the bottom half of the circle then cloned out the overlapping seeds. So now I had my final set of dandelion images against a black background but I wasn’t happy with the final look. I played around with the levels but still wasn’t happy with them. I decided to try inverting the images in Photoshop. This converted the black background to white and turned the dandelions blue – a little strange, so I desaturated the images to make them black and white and adjusted the levels to improve the contrast.
I finished off with some careful cropping and finally ended up with a set of images I was pleased with. I hope you enjoy them too! Our deconstructed dandelion print is available to buy here in our Etsy shop.