After Before Forum; Nature’s Clock

The After and Before forum is organised by Stacy Fischer, it is a place where amateurs as well as seasoned photographers explain the wow and how about their photo and editing decision.
You can read more here about how to take part.

After Before Forum Benjamin Rowe BeforeTo create this week’s picture, for the “After Before Forum”, most of the work was done before I even opened Photoshop. I have had an idea for quite a while of a dandelion clock. As a child I remember being asked what time it was and then blowing on a dandelion to find out; each puff of breath representing 1 hour. To translate this visually I thought about 12 pictures of dandelions slowly being blown out as well as the yellow dandelion flower. All of these images would be laid out like a clock face.

My set up for photographing the dandelions was quite simple; Black Card placed against the wall, a dandelion in a pot of play dough and two Ikea spot lamps to light the dandelion. I took several test shots in manual exposure to get the exposure right. Once all the pictures were taken and I packed everything away it was off to Photoshop.


First I created a new document and filled the background layer black. I needed to create guides for the clock face to know where I would be placing elements of the picture. I used the line tool, drew a line and the duplicated and transformed it with a rotation of 30 degrees. I did this 5 times and I had my guide.


I imported my Dandelion shots from Lightroom as layers. With each layer I had to resize ( as they were a little too big) and rotate them to the right angle for the clock face.


I separated the dandelion flower from its back ground using Select – Focus Area. I resized the image and placed it in the centre.


I turned the group of dandelion spores and flowers into two separate smart objects. Using some basic adjustments with clipping masks toned these elements. I didn’t place them in one smart object because they are two separate groups of elements that if I needed to tweak would be easier to do separately.


I wanted to create a textured background for the image. I imported a french wallpaper and grass texture. I placed these textures above the background image, with the grass above the French wallpaper. I set the grass texture to overlay to make the grass fill in the pattern of the French wall paper. I then added a hue and saturation layer to shift the greens slightly and create a separation between the main composite and the back ground.


I wanted also to create a simple border. Since I had black background layer I decided to add a hard rounded corner mask to the textured background. A simple boarder was added.

After Before Forum Benjamin Rowe After


I am quite happy with the final image, it is close to my original idea. At first I wasn’t to sure about the background but it has grown on me.

I would love to know your thoughts on this image be it positive or negative.

Also please head over to Stacy’s blog to see the other participant’s entries into this weeks forum

Remember if you liked this post to; like, share and subscribe.

If you wish to get notifications when I post on my blog, you can follow me on Twitter@apertureF64, on or alternatively be emailed by subscribing below. All images are the Copyright of Benjamin Rowe , ALL RIGHTS Reserved unless credited to another photographer. For more information please read my Copyright Statement

27 thoughts on “After Before Forum; Nature’s Clock

  1. Ben, once again, I am blown away by your post (no pun intended!) Truly, your creative projects never cease to amaze me. Even your step of drawing out the guide is awesome. I have to admit that as I first saw the dandelion heads get smaller and smaller around the clock face, I was wondering how you made each look so realistic. Then I realized you actually blew on it. Duh. LOL! Great concept, wonderful execution. Thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Hi Stacy, I could have made the dandelions but it was more fun and realistic picking and photographing them. I quite like mini projects like this as they don’t have to be long and they are quite creative.

  2. A very cool image! I love that you already knew what you wanted to do and then set out to create it–I’m more of the opposite when it comes to photography, but then again I don’t do highly “conceptual” work.

    • Conceptual work is something I like to do, as the feeling when the image is complete is great. I usually do a few conceptual images a year as some take some time to piece together. This one didn’t take too long though.

  3. I am a big fan of dandelions, so this was a neat photo to begin with. The children’s clock idea is new to me so that was interesting to learn about. Great step-through tutorial, and it looks like it was a fun project to work on. 😀

    • We used to have a lot of dandelions in my parents garden as a child and I will never forget blowing them, possibly the reason we had so many. Glad you like the final image, and yes it was a fun little project.

Let Me Know Your Thoughts, I Know You Have Some

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s