How to Photograph a SnowFlake

February 26, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

I will be straight up - I have never done this before.  But my goal is to do things I haven't done before to help me learn more.  I am writing this before I even go outside to illustrate something I have written about in other blogs.  In my post on how I photograph birds, I tell you my starting point.  So in the same way I will pre-set my camera before I attempt the snowflake photos.  There are two distinct advantages:  1. I hope to be close accurate settings before I go outside and 2. It is much easier to set it up in the warmth of the house.


The first topic is gear:
  • I will be using my Canon 5D Mark IV with one of two prime lenses (50mm or 85mm)
  • I have three extension tubes that are stackable, but probably will not need to stack
  • I am debating using a tripod, but with the bright snow, I should be able to do this hand-held
Next are my settings:
  • ISO 100
  • For aperture, I may use wide open (f1.8) and use photo stack if needed
    • I may use a smaller aperture (f8.0) to maximize the depth of field for the snowflake
  • Since the snowflake will be static and on something (not falling) I can go with slower shutter speeds.
  • So my camera will be on 100 ISO and aperture priority while watching my shutter speeds.
The final discussion is the subject matter:
  • I need to find my subject
  • Look for colorful objects that have accessible edges where snowflakes or crystals are present
  • Dual colored surfaces

The settings above are just my best guess after researching how others have created these photos and a few of my own experiences. 

First try

I took a short break from work today to attempt my first snowflake photograph.  It isn't the best and I will have more time to try again on the weekend (tomorrow).  I started with my 55mm with all the extension tubes and also tried my 70-200mm zoom with the same extension tubes.  My favorite came with my 85mm and my settings were not what I expected.

ISO 400
Shutter Speed 1/80
85mm prime lens
All three extension tubes to get as close as I could

12, 20, and 36 mm for a total of 68mm added to my lens.

I also had to use a piece of black contruction paper to get some contrast.  This was the output from the first attempt.


Second Try

The weekend has come and gone and my first attempt at a snowflake was the better of my two attempts.  I fared no better over the weekend.  And because of that I flippled to a previous project but tried it out outdoors.  I did a soap bubble project last year that went well with a few minor issues that I may try to resolve in a future project.  But for now, I tried the soap bubbles outside for some freezing bubbles.  The temperature was 12 degrees Fahrenheit, which was not as cold as I needed it to be.  I had read some blogger's post that it needs to be closer to zero, but I had no control over the temperature.  I did, however,  let my bubble solution sit outside in the cold for some time in hopes of better ice bubbles.  I did get one or two that turned out ok.

Ice BubblesIce BubblesIce Bubbles Ice BubblesIce BubblesIce Bubbles

If it were colder, it may have worked out better.  I think I already mentioned that. Both of these photos were taken after leaving the solution outside for about 30 minutes but not quite frozen.  When I created the bubbles some ice formed, but not as much as I hopped.  In the photo on the right, you can see more of the bubbles frozen.  Just needed to be colder for a faster freeze.


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I am glad you found my blog.  I am a photographer with a passion for awesome shots.  I go to great lengths to capture many of my photos.  I will re-visit a location over and over knowing there is a spectacular photo just waiting to be had if I am there at the right time.   I also enjoy finding how to do some abstract projects (check out my time-lapse post) and will be writing about them.

Send me a note via my contact page for some projects you would like to see me try and write about.  I am not afraid to try almost any project.  Doing the obscure forces me to do things that I don't do with the typical photo shoot and helps me learn even more.