November 05, 2015  •  1 Comment



From Nature to Abstract


I was stopped in my tracks in the Greek countryside by a very simple light effect. Some dandelions in front of a mass of bushes were lit by a shaft of late afternoon sunlight, which missed the background plants. They seemed ethereal and unusually still on that sweet, calm day.


After a moment’s pleasure staring at the sight, I decided to try and capture the amazing light and the delicate tracery of a plant that Nature calls beautiful and that we call a weed.


Do What You Can, With What You Have, Where You Are


I was not specifically equipped for Nature close-up photography, although, because it was small and light, I was carrying an old, 24mm lens, which did not benefit from all the electronic connectivity that my digital camera body could deliver. As you may know, all such “legacy” Nikon lenses will connect to even the latest bodies, although their capacity to benefit from current high-tech is limited. The “glass” is still excellent, of course, and a little ingenuity can still deliver excellent results. Rooting around in a junk store can still provide you with a happy surprise!  Also, I was hulking a solid tripod, which assisted the setup.


The Capture


I am presuming that we have all blown the petals of dandelions and watched the ease with which they detach in the lightest breeze and fly into the distance. Calm as the day was, some had already been blown from the centre of my target, which I think opens up the structure in a pleasing way, creating a kind of crown, or halo effect. I wanted to both “freeze” any movement and to blur anything behind, so I needed both a wide aperture and a fast speed. Given the lighting conditions, setting the lens’ widest aperture already generated a very fast speed. Setting a fast speed under shutter priority would have given the same result, but I went with the first offer, so to speak. The result was deep enough for the little flower and fast enough to trap the fine detail.


The Treatment


I have several ideas for using this image, at least three in fact, and since the original image was not as overall dark, nor as contrasty as this version, what did I do?


Firstly I used the “Contrast” slider to heavily twist the original, natural view into this abstract concentration on the shape and structure of the plant. Then I selectively used the “Retouch” function to paint out the residual traces of the flowers on the bushes behind.


In fact, this is the result of very little intervention, although it is a highly distorted – or abstract – version of the original.





Camera: Nikon D300

Lens: 24mm f3.5D

Focal Length: 24 mm

Focus Mode: Manual

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/3.5

Shutter Speed: 1/3200s

Aperture Priority

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 250



If you want to see the other uses of this image, come back in a week or so to my website Limited edition pages.



Copyright Paul Grayson 2015


The treatment shows the dark side of the dandelion more than its delicacy. This is a choice that I like too.
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