Dandelions have always been one of my favorite subjects – in particular the seeds as they fall. Sure, they’re weeds – but they’re graceful weeds.
This particular image is a focus stack from two images. I have been working a bit more with focus stacking using Zerene stacker and find it very useful – in particular for someone like me who does not have a lot of time.
Dandelion seeds can actually be rather tricky to photograph. I usually find that more than 1:1 magnification is required so I use my MP-E 65 anywhere from 1:1 to 2:1. Generally the seeds do not stay still so a flash is required. It can be quite tricky though getting the seed in your viewfinder and in focus as they tend to sway quite a bit in the wind – causing the seed to come in and out of my viewfinder.
This swaying further complicates getting a good set of images for a focus stack. The only way I have found to combat this so far is by taking a number of images. After taking a good number of shots, I am able to evaluate them right on the camera so the majority of the shots never see Lightroom.
The above shot was taken closer to 1:1 so you can see the magnification difference. It also suffered from extreme swaying and due to the number of seeds involved I was not able to take a set that worked well enough for focus stacking. Still, I rather like the shot though my wife says I needed to ‘add’ one more seed to make it an odd number.
Using flash with dandelion seeds can also be a bit tricky. The problem is the dandelion makes up only a small part of the image so the camera will often overexpose through the flashes. This tends to cause the seed to be blown out. The best way to compensate for this is to dial the flash back. I often dial my MT-24EX back between –1 1/3 to –2.
This image I liked better as I was creating it than I like the final product. The image I wanted was successfully executed – doing a multiple image focus stack so all of the seeds are in focus. However in this case I believe the seed head is exceptionally ugly and really distracts from the shot. The seed head looks rather old and stale. Still, I think it is an idea worth exploring more – perhaps with a full head of seeds.
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