One of the great joys that many kids (and quite a few adults) share is blowing the seeds from a dandelion head. When I got my macro lens I did attempt several shots of the delicate arrangement designed to spread the seeds on the wind. Now static shots were great but I wanted to capture something better. A shot of the seeds actually leaving the stem.
Fortunately my wife agreed to provide the wind power provided that she was not in the shot and a local field provided us with a fine selection of specimens that were carefully brought home. Expectations were high that this would be very simple. After all it can’t be that difficult to shot.
In reality it was quite difficult. Firstly I should have realised that the seeds only come off when they are ripe or if you hit them with a gale. My wife was not generating enough strength in her blow and so we resorted to a hair blower. Unfortunately this worked a little two week. They tended to bend in the airflow rather than come off or move around which meant it was out of focus. Those that did come off simply appeared as a blur in the image.
I quickly determined that I needed to ramp up the shutter speed and we quickly got above the 1/200s that was the synch speeds on strobes. Add to that the fact that macro lens have very tiny depth of field that it was impossible to shoot them inside against the simple background I had set up. Bringing in a halogen light even didn’t help.
In the end it became obvious that we needed to shoot outside and my daughter took over the blowing duties. We finally managed to get three useable shots but they were still not as good as I would have liked.
As a footnote after the shoot someone told me that the easiest way to get the seeds to come off the head is not actually to blow across it, but to blow into the shaft (which is hollow).