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
F6.3
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.

SnowflakeSnowflakeSnowflake

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.


 
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