Dandelion Clock / by Graham Dew

Dandelion Clock, 2005 © Graham Dew

Dandelion Clock, 2005

I’m currently preparing a lecture for a couple of local camera clubs later in the autumn, and one thing I want to illustrate is how certain pictures are linked to other. Joined up pictures, if you will. This image of a dandelion seed head was shot back in 2005 on a compact camera that was considered to be somewhat better than the pack back then, a Fujifilm F810. This was the first camera/lens combination that gave me really close focussing capabilities, and would focus down as close as 75mm.

Many compact cameras offer very close-up focussing, which invariably comes at the wide setting of the zoom lens, rather than the more normal short telephoto length of conventional DSLR macro lenses. This can make for very compelling close-up images as it tends to make subjects look gigantic relative to their backgrounds. In skilled hands this technique can ennoble the tiniest of details, as in the brilliant miniatures by Slinkachu.

Like September Field, this image was shot when out cycling on September afternoon. This time I was with my daughter, and the weather was as warm and bright as it was last week, seven years on. As we came to this particular field we saw many dandelions backlit by the low evening sun. With the rapidly shortening evenings, it seemed appropriate to make a picture that referenced time, and the fragile dandelion clocks were suitable metaphors. A single stray seed emphasised the impermanence of the plant.

The hardest part of the picture was getting low enough to push the seed head into the sky to emphasise the geometry. This meant lying prone with my head on the ground, getting covered in grass and dust. Later I bought a small compact mirror to use for these occasions, but I find this a difficult way to compose. Much better are the articulated screens like the one on my G3, which allow for hand-held ground level shots without the mess and embarrassment of having to lie down.

This was the first time that I had made special use of the close focussing of the camera, something that I started to do much more regularly, and has become a key part of my photography over the past seven years.