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How to Photograph Snowflakes with a DSLR

By Don Komarechka

How to Photograph SnowflakesThe winter months are typically uninteresting for macro photographers. Flowers, insects, and tiny details in nature all but disappear. Only one faithful subject is left in abundance – the tiny snowflake.

Thankfully, “abundance” is an understatement. For nearly half of the year, you’ll find countless trillions of them mere feet from the warmth and comfort of home. So, how do you start? How do you capture one of these tiny crystalline subjects and fill the frame behind your lens?

The Gear:

The first thing you’ll need is an old mitten.

You’ll need more than that, however. The average snowflake is around 2-5mm across, so filling the frame with one of these crystals will require powerful magnification and good lighting. Any camera will do, as long as you can get close enough. For snowflake photography, you’re going to need to delve into the world beyond 1:1 lifesize magnification.

Macro setup

1:1 lifesize is the highest scale of magnification that most macro lenses are capable of. On a full-frame sensor, a 4mm snowflake will only fill about 2% of the image – we need to get closer.

Adding a set of extension tubes to your macro lens will often get you close to 2:1 life-size, and Kenko makes a great set. These are hollow tubes that sit between the camera and the lens, effectively allowing the camera to focus closer to its front element. This is the most convenient way to increase your magnification, but close-up filters are another good option.

Close-up filters are basically reading glasses for your camera. They act as a magnifying glass, and multiple can be stacked together for an increased effect. They cause the edges of the frame to get distorted, but when photographing snowflakes you’ll likely be cropping out the edges anyhow. Close-up filters also interfere with the autofocus capabilities of most DSLRs, but we’ll be shooting manual focus for this subject.

How to Photograph Snowflakes 2

Lighting a snowflake may seem like a challenge, but it’s fairly simple: use a ring flash. Ring flashes may not be favored in all areas of macro photography because they create a distracting reflection in water droplets and some insect eyes. It’s the perfect solution for snowflakes however, and makes capturing them a little easier. Most ring flashes (I use a Canon MR-14EX) allow you to control two banks of light and make one brighter than the other. I nearly completely turn one bank off and use half of the flash – and I aim for the perfect angle.

How to Photograph Snowflakes 3

Getting the right angle can drastically change the outcome. The above image is photographed at two different angles only a few degrees apart. It takes plenty of experimenting in the field to find these angles, and I’ll occasionally use a small paintbrush to nudge the snowflake to the proper angle. I avoid this unless necessary, because the crystals often shatter when manipulated too much.

So we’ve got a lens, a light, and now we need a stage. All of my snowflake photographs are made on the same old black mitten. It’s an essential component in my images, and there are plenty of reasons why:

Mitten

  • Dark background: the mitten creates a darker background for the snowflake and allows for some beautiful contrasts. Choose another color besides black for a different feel to your images – but keep it darker for good contrast.
  • Insulation: If the snowflake were to fall on a flat metal surface, and that surface were to transfer even the slightest amount of heat – the snowflake would be a water droplet fairly quickly. With the mitten, the ice gets caught in the fibers and only makes a few contact points with the surface, keeping it insulated from heat.
  • Subject Isolation: Every shot will have some number of woolen fibers present, but these are far easier to edit out than a flat and detailed surface like felt or a BBQ cover in your backyard.

The Process:

Set out the mitten during a snowfall and wait for the snowflakes to land (tip: you shouldn’t be wearing the mitten). Take a close look and see if the snowflakes are of the “beautiful” variety. You’ll commonly see balls of ice or crystals covered in frozen water droplets (called “rime”). It may take a few snowfalls before you see the best crystals for photographing – big, clean snowflakes with lots of branches:

How to Photograph Snowflakes 4

It’s very important to photograph the snowflakes during a snowfall. As soon as one hour afterwards, the crystals will begin to melt or sublimate (evaporate without melting first) and the sharp crystal edges will soon disappear. If you’ve just missed the snowfall, try to place the mitten on freshly fallen snow and pick it up again – the fibers will catch the fallen snowflakes like Velcro and you’ll have a chance at photographing a few before they deteriorate too far.

All of my snowflakes are focus-stacked. This means that I take multiple frames of the same snowflake at many different focus points; I do this by physically moving the camera forward and backward through the focus plane of the crystal, continuously shooting all the while. This process is necessary because they’re often photographed on an angle, giving only a tiny sliver of focus. I photograph them on an angle to bring out surface reflections, prismatic colors and even vibrant center colors as a result of optical interference:

How to Photograph Snowflakes 5

This is not, however, how the image comes out of the camera. The below image is one of 33 images used in the final composition. The process of combining the frames is lengthy, in part because every image is done without a tripod – they’re all hand-held. Because I handhold these images, I need to take far more frames than I’ll actually use (I over-shoot to make sure I cover every point). The 33 frames I used in this image were selected out of 112 in total.

How to Photograph Snowflakes 6

I’m often asked why I don’t use a tripod for these photographs. Getting a tripod set up to exactly the right angle and adjusting a focus-rail to get everything set perfectly would take a significant amount of time. I find the snowflake freehand and adjust the angle of the camera to get the desired reflection by taking test shots, something far more time-consuming if a tripod were involved. Time can’t be spent aligning a tripod in this way – I need to move quickly to be sure the snowflake won’t melt, blow away or get smothered by more falling snow. Photoshop does a pretty good job re-aligning the images, as long as your angle doesn’t deviate too much.

Snowflakes measuring roughly 0.4mm in diameter, photographed at 6:1 magnification and cropped significantly

Snowflakes measuring roughly 0.4mm in diameter, photographed at 6:1 magnification and cropped significantly

The editing and focus-stacking process will be discussed in a future article.

The Book:

If the tutorial above interests you, it will be spelled out in greater detail in my upcoming book, “Sky Crystals: Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes”. The book is currently being crowd-funded on indiegogo, and a $35 contribution will get you a copy when it’s released in October 2013. Support the project and help the book get published!

Mar4 snowflake9

The book will be 300 pages, hardcover and detail all of the photographic techniques, science & physics, and even the psychology and philosophy of why we find snowflakes beautiful. The campaign ends April 30th 2013.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category.

Don Komarechka is a Canadian nature & landscape photographer. His work revolves around unique perspectives and unseen subjects. Don has recently published a book on snowflakes and macro photography and his work can be seen on his website or on Google+.

  • http://www.mariaassia.com Maria Assia

    Wow, these shots are fantastic! The detail in the snowflakes is just amazing. They are so organic and at the same time look like they have to be man made. Love it.

  • http://jasonweddington.com Jason Weddington

    Excellent tips and the images are incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  • Scottc

    The photos and tips are great, but may be a bit late for the season here in the Northern Hemishpere……

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/7810551984/

  • http://www.cramerimaging.com Cramer Imaging

    I was amazed by these images. I’ve been doing a bit of work in the macro area and I’ve come to see the limited focal range. I’m not surprised to see that your beautiful images are a compilation of stacked focus pictures. Great job on the selection of pictures to use. I recently read an article on this website about achieving these hyper macro detail shots. I understand there is some expensive fancy gear that can make the shoot easier if using a tripod. I hope your next article has some suggestions on how to merge the multiple photos into the composite image. I have Photoshop but there might be better specialized software available. I would prefer the free version myself. Thanks for taking the time to share on this.

  • http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596 Don Komarechka

    Thanks very much for all of the compliments everyone! Glad you enjoy the images and the how-to! Don’t forget to check out the book project too… I’ll have room for a much greater level of detail in the process there. :)

    http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596

    Cramer Imaging, there are some fancy tools (focus rails) which can help in the focus stacking process for subjects that allow it. This would typically be within a studio setup where you have complete control over the variables involved. There is specialized software available and they work great for “controlled” stacks, but the free-hand stuff is best sorted out with Photoshop – there are powerful ways to fix mistakes across 40+ frames. Thanks for taking the time to comments and for reading the article.

  • http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/ mridula

    Even though there is too much gear involved for me I loved the pictures!

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Shokinen

    Talk about beeing creative without driving 20miles from your place !
    Very cool, definitly on my list for next year :)

  • http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596 Don Komarechka

    Glad you like the pictures mridula! You can take a stab at this with a reverse-mounted 50mm lens on a Canon Rebel with an off-camera flash (or heck, use a Pringles can as a light chute). It’ll be more difficult, but don’t let the gear stop you. :)

    shokinen, I’ve tried to “chase after” snow storms without much luck. All of these images are taken a few feet from my back door… makes it easy to get out photographing snowflakes at 3AM when you can quickly get back to bed afterwards. Thanks for enjoying the tutorial – let me know if you try it and show me the results! Happy to give feedback.

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene Hildebrandt

    Great job Don, look forward to more on this subject!

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene Hildebrandt

    scottc – I’m WAY north of you and we are actually expecting snow here today and tomorrow. I’m even north of where Don is!

  • http://dotcompalsphotoblog.com/ Prashanth Randadath

    Unfortunately no snow in this part of the world to try this. thank you

  • http://www.herviewphotography.com Darlene

    @Prashanth – how about grains of sand? Something else small? The principals work for anything macro of this nature – give it a try

  • http://www.marccphotography.com Marc Clephan

    Great tutorial and tips Don, I am really looking forward to the book. I think I may just give this a go next winter. (an hour north of you) ….. Thank you again.

  • http://Jillthinksdifferent.bligspot.com Jill

    I do a lot of snowflake macro here in snow perfect Salt Lake City. I have enjoyed letting flakes fall on inexpensive screw on magnification lens. The flakes appear to float in air or I include the lens edge for artistic flair. You can see some of my snowflakes on the header on my blog: jillthinksdifferent.blogspot.com
    My biggest problem/challenge: the photos look great on screen but due to cropping they don’t l

  • http://Jillthinksdifferent.bligspot.com Jill

    The snow flake photos never look as good in print as they do on screen due to cropping. I us a 60mm lens and get excellent detail without photoshop. Just wish The photos would look good printed large.

  • http://JSLArtPhoto.com Jeffrey

    Thanks Don,
    I am going to give this a try, is just keeps snowing and snowing and snowing here in Minnesota
    so I might as well have some fun!

  • Miranda

    No snow in where I come from. Will it work if I freeze the glove in the freezer? Just a thought :)

  • http://www.atwanted.com/lolasphotography Lola

    Absolutely Beautiful Don! When snow falls again, I’m definitely going to try your technique, can’t wait for your book! Love Macro! “Your Snowflake pictures are amazing”!!

  • http://www.debbscustomengravings.co.uk Debb

    This year I took my first snowflake photos with my new Panasonic Lumix FZ48. The first one was entirely by accident, but as soon as I noticed it I began looking for the snowflakes on my window. They were surprisingly easy to find. Unfortunately non of them were in perfect condition but I was so proud of myself.
    I think if the window hadn’t been double glazed the photos would have been better.
    Pity this piece wasn’t written 2 months ago though, but I will remember it all for next time!
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/536944_10151258111103303_664694780_n.jpg

  • http://steveboer.smugmug.com Steve

    Sadly, I can probably still use this advice this weekend (except for the fact I don’t have that kind of equipment). End, winter!

  • YossiD

    Ah, the wonders of digital photography.

    Many many years ago, long before the advent of commercial digital photography, when I was the photographer for a small newspaper at my university, I tried shooting some snowflakes outside my bedroom window. I put a piece of black cardboard (actually the bottom of an empty photographic paper box) outside on the windowsill and left it for while to get cold. I set up my Canon EF on a tripod as close as possible to window with the camera half outside. I didn’t take notes but I probably used my magnificent Canon 50 mm macro lens (bought for a song at a pawn shop). The picture I got comes nowhere close to the quality of those in this article, but I was rather pleased nonetheless. Keep in mind that I had to wait until after developing the film and making prints before I had any idea of the results. Also, no way to combine elements of different shots to get a better picture. After looking at the prints I also realized that the snow had apparently melted a bit and refrozen on the way down, so the crystals aren’t very clear. If anyone’s interested, you can see the result here: http://tinyurl.com/c82ktrd

    On a completely unrelated note, just because I want to share it, I managed to capture a water splash one evening at college when the ceiling was leaking. Of course I used flash to freeze the action and I had to take a couple of rolls just to catch a few events – I actually ended up with a series showing the splash in steps from start to finish even though each shot was from a different splash (just dumb luck). The flash was off-camera at a distance so as not to blitz the shots since the camera was pretty close to the glass. I was probably using an 80 mm Canon portrait lens (also bought at a pawn shop) and Ilford HP-50 film. I am particularly pleased by the detail I manage to capture in this shot including the interference fringes, the crowning, the ripple in the surface of the water, depth f the splash depression, and the spray. Here’s the picture: http://tinyurl.com/bqf6zjg

    Since switching to digital I have not advanced beyond a compact camera (Canon PowerShot A650) as I don’t really feel like lugging around a heavy camera bag anymore, not to mention the expense. I wonder if I’d be able to get any decent snowflake shots with the PowerShot. With macro focusing as close as 1 cm it might be possible. Unfortunately I now live where there is no snow. Guess I’ll have to find something else to photograph instead.

  • http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596 Don Komarechka

    Hey Marc, glad you liked the article! Tons of snow anywhere in this region, I’m sure you’d have luck with it. If you’ve put in for a copy of the book you should get it right before the next snowfall. :)

    Jill, great to hear you’re experimenting with snowflake work! Your best bet would be to get a set of Kenko extension tubes, they’ll just about double the resolution of your images (you’ll have to crop in a lot less). Thanks for reading the article, too!

    Jeffrey, thanks for the comment, I hope you got a chance before winter disappeared. If not, there’s always next year (and the book will help you through the process!).

    miranda, you can grow your own snowflakes! http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/designer1/designer1.htm

    Thanks very much Lola! Glad you’ll be getting a copy of the book, if you do make an attempt, be sure to send me some images!

    Debb, thanks for enjoying the article! I find that snowflakes look a bit better to photograph if they have just fallen. Even an hour later and they start to lose their features. You can always try to stick a pair of reading glasses in front of your camera (no joke!) and it will allow you to increase the magnification. Low tech, but that’s exactly what close-up filters for a DSLR are. :)

    Hah Steve, let’s hope we’re out of it now! The long-range forecast here still says a low of -3C for April 21st, which is absurd. End, winter! I’ve got enough snowflake photos already. :)

  • http://steveboer.smugmug.com Steve

    Don, yeah, -3 is what is was here this morning (I’m in Edmonton).

    You mentioned Kenko extension tubes, do you have experience with those? I’ve been considering getting some, but not sure if I should get the Kenko or some cheapies from eBay.

  • http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596 Don Komarechka

    Yes Steve, I use the Kenko tubes and love ‘em. The cheapies on ebay will not have any electrical contacts to allow the camera to talk to the lens (and set your aperture blades in place). While there are work-arounds to do this, I’d recommend just getting the Kenko set and your life will be easier. While my lens can get me 5:1 lifesize, I often add a full set of Kenko extension tubes to get me up to 6:1.

    yossid, cool snowflake shot! You’re mistaken about it’s melting and re-freezing however. Those snow crystals are covered in “rime”. Rime is the result of a snowflake encountering water droplets during it’s formation or fall to Earth. These water droplets hit the snowflake and freeze on impact, and do no add themselves as gracefully to the crystal structure as water vapour does. Many of the snowflakes I encounter look like this, and I typically photograph the cleaner crystals.

    I’ll be adding some content to the book on ways to use a point&shoot camera to photograph snowflakes… there are some simple and more advanced techniques and the results can be spectacular! I’d recommend you check out these images, shot with a camera identical to yours: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaoticmind75/

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/ekavet Eva Slade

    Try using a black plastic garbage bag as the background. The weave of the mitten sometimes interferes with the shape of the snowflake.

  • http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596 Don Komarechka

    An interesting idea Eva, but I’m not sure how successful that would be.

    A snowfall is not without a small amount of wind, and that would greatly affect a plastic garbage bag. If you were to suggest that the bag be pulled tight and fastened, then I wouldn’t be able to play around with angles as freely. The texture of the garbage bag would also show up very well in the images, and I’d think that would be more frustrating to edit out than stray fibers. :)

  • Kristen

    Would I be able to do this with a Nikon D5100 with a 55-200mm lens or would I need a kenko tube?

  • http://hikeventures.com/ HikeVentures

    Did you also try to crop images with a 50 mm lens? Would this work?

  • yeyep

    Of course you need a tube of any brand or a macro lens , otherwise why is there a guide..

  • bloll

    Unless you have 200 megapixel I don’t think so.

  • Pahbarazzy

    Very nice Pictures! I love snowflakes photos, and yours are very nice, congrats!

    And I recomend, if you don´t have that prety gear like that, that you use your normal 18-55mm lens. ¿How?
    By Inverting your 18-55mm normal lens. To have better results you may have to fixed the aperture of the lens on the minimun aperture before you take the lens out. To do it you need to press the “aperture” botton (normaly down-left on the body near the lens) and the have aperture and zoom on the minimun (at 18mm – 1/22 aperture for example for my lens). With that, you will have more focus range on the lens. It is maybe not the prettiest way to photograph, but it works, it sorprised and everyone with a normal DSLR can do it :)

    Under a couple of fotos, greetings! ;)

  • Tristan

    What do you think about using a Pringles can, and then reverse mounting a 50mm prime on the end? Or would I be better off just buying a set of extension tubes? Thanks!

  • Kathleen Mekailek

    i have gotten some photos of ice crystals that have formed around the opening of the fountain in our pond. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, we usually do not get the pretty, fluffy crystal flakes; just the hard round ice crystals.

  • Jared Lawson

    Beautiful samples of snowflake photography – these are absolutely stunning pieces of work, thanks for the tips! California Portrait Photographer

Some older comments

  • Don Komarechka

    April 20, 2013 01:00 am

    An interesting idea Eva, but I'm not sure how successful that would be.

    A snowfall is not without a small amount of wind, and that would greatly affect a plastic garbage bag. If you were to suggest that the bag be pulled tight and fastened, then I wouldn't be able to play around with angles as freely. The texture of the garbage bag would also show up very well in the images, and I'd think that would be more frustrating to edit out than stray fibers. :)

  • Eva Slade

    April 19, 2013 03:54 am

    Try using a black plastic garbage bag as the background. The weave of the mitten sometimes interferes with the shape of the snowflake.

  • Don Komarechka

    April 17, 2013 06:42 am

    Yes Steve, I use the Kenko tubes and love 'em. The cheapies on ebay will not have any electrical contacts to allow the camera to talk to the lens (and set your aperture blades in place). While there are work-arounds to do this, I'd recommend just getting the Kenko set and your life will be easier. While my lens can get me 5:1 lifesize, I often add a full set of Kenko extension tubes to get me up to 6:1.

    yossid, cool snowflake shot! You're mistaken about it's melting and re-freezing however. Those snow crystals are covered in "rime". Rime is the result of a snowflake encountering water droplets during it's formation or fall to Earth. These water droplets hit the snowflake and freeze on impact, and do no add themselves as gracefully to the crystal structure as water vapour does. Many of the snowflakes I encounter look like this, and I typically photograph the cleaner crystals.

    I'll be adding some content to the book on ways to use a point&shoot camera to photograph snowflakes... there are some simple and more advanced techniques and the results can be spectacular! I'd recommend you check out these images, shot with a camera identical to yours: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaoticmind75/

  • Steve

    April 17, 2013 04:13 am

    Don, yeah, -3 is what is was here this morning (I'm in Edmonton).

    You mentioned Kenko extension tubes, do you have experience with those? I've been considering getting some, but not sure if I should get the Kenko or some cheapies from eBay.

  • Don Komarechka

    April 17, 2013 04:06 am

    Hey Marc, glad you liked the article! Tons of snow anywhere in this region, I'm sure you'd have luck with it. If you've put in for a copy of the book you should get it right before the next snowfall. :)

    Jill, great to hear you're experimenting with snowflake work! Your best bet would be to get a set of Kenko extension tubes, they'll just about double the resolution of your images (you'll have to crop in a lot less). Thanks for reading the article, too!

    Jeffrey, thanks for the comment, I hope you got a chance before winter disappeared. If not, there's always next year (and the book will help you through the process!).

    miranda, you can grow your own snowflakes! http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/designer1/designer1.htm

    Thanks very much Lola! Glad you'll be getting a copy of the book, if you do make an attempt, be sure to send me some images!

    Debb, thanks for enjoying the article! I find that snowflakes look a bit better to photograph if they have just fallen. Even an hour later and they start to lose their features. You can always try to stick a pair of reading glasses in front of your camera (no joke!) and it will allow you to increase the magnification. Low tech, but that's exactly what close-up filters for a DSLR are. :)

    Hah Steve, let's hope we're out of it now! The long-range forecast here still says a low of -3C for April 21st, which is absurd. End, winter! I've got enough snowflake photos already. :)

  • YossiD

    April 14, 2013 11:10 pm

    Ah, the wonders of digital photography.

    Many many years ago, long before the advent of commercial digital photography, when I was the photographer for a small newspaper at my university, I tried shooting some snowflakes outside my bedroom window. I put a piece of black cardboard (actually the bottom of an empty photographic paper box) outside on the windowsill and left it for while to get cold. I set up my Canon EF on a tripod as close as possible to window with the camera half outside. I didn't take notes but I probably used my magnificent Canon 50 mm macro lens (bought for a song at a pawn shop). The picture I got comes nowhere close to the quality of those in this article, but I was rather pleased nonetheless. Keep in mind that I had to wait until after developing the film and making prints before I had any idea of the results. Also, no way to combine elements of different shots to get a better picture. After looking at the prints I also realized that the snow had apparently melted a bit and refrozen on the way down, so the crystals aren't very clear. If anyone's interested, you can see the result here: http://tinyurl.com/c82ktrd

    On a completely unrelated note, just because I want to share it, I managed to capture a water splash one evening at college when the ceiling was leaking. Of course I used flash to freeze the action and I had to take a couple of rolls just to catch a few events - I actually ended up with a series showing the splash in steps from start to finish even though each shot was from a different splash (just dumb luck). The flash was off-camera at a distance so as not to blitz the shots since the camera was pretty close to the glass. I was probably using an 80 mm Canon portrait lens (also bought at a pawn shop) and Ilford HP-50 film. I am particularly pleased by the detail I manage to capture in this shot including the interference fringes, the crowning, the ripple in the surface of the water, depth f the splash depression, and the spray. Here's the picture: http://tinyurl.com/bqf6zjg

    Since switching to digital I have not advanced beyond a compact camera (Canon PowerShot A650) as I don't really feel like lugging around a heavy camera bag anymore, not to mention the expense. I wonder if I'd be able to get any decent snowflake shots with the PowerShot. With macro focusing as close as 1 cm it might be possible. Unfortunately I now live where there is no snow. Guess I'll have to find something else to photograph instead.

  • Steve

    April 13, 2013 07:32 am

    Sadly, I can probably still use this advice this weekend (except for the fact I don't have that kind of equipment). End, winter!

  • Debb

    April 13, 2013 03:07 am

    This year I took my first snowflake photos with my new Panasonic Lumix FZ48. The first one was entirely by accident, but as soon as I noticed it I began looking for the snowflakes on my window. They were surprisingly easy to find. Unfortunately non of them were in perfect condition but I was so proud of myself.
    I think if the window hadn't been double glazed the photos would have been better.
    Pity this piece wasn't written 2 months ago though, but I will remember it all for next time!
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/536944_10151258111103303_664694780_n.jpg

  • Lola

    April 12, 2013 11:24 pm

    Absolutely Beautiful Don! When snow falls again, I'm definitely going to try your technique, can't wait for your book! Love Macro! "Your Snowflake pictures are amazing"!!

  • Miranda

    April 12, 2013 06:02 pm

    No snow in where I come from. Will it work if I freeze the glove in the freezer? Just a thought :)

  • Jeffrey

    April 12, 2013 03:40 pm

    Thanks Don,
    I am going to give this a try, is just keeps snowing and snowing and snowing here in Minnesota
    so I might as well have some fun!

  • Jill

    April 12, 2013 02:02 pm

    The snow flake photos never look as good in print as they do on screen due to cropping. I us a 60mm lens and get excellent detail without photoshop. Just wish The photos would look good printed large.

  • Jill

    April 12, 2013 01:59 pm

    I do a lot of snowflake macro here in snow perfect Salt Lake City. I have enjoyed letting flakes fall on inexpensive screw on magnification lens. The flakes appear to float in air or I include the lens edge for artistic flair. You can see some of my snowflakes on the header on my blog: jillthinksdifferent.blogspot.com
    My biggest problem/challenge: the photos look great on screen but due to cropping they don't l

  • Marc Clephan

    April 6, 2013 06:18 am

    Great tutorial and tips Don, I am really looking forward to the book. I think I may just give this a go next winter. (an hour north of you) ..... Thank you again.

  • Darlene

    April 6, 2013 03:07 am

    @Prashanth - how about grains of sand? Something else small? The principals work for anything macro of this nature - give it a try

  • Prashanth Randadath

    April 5, 2013 11:35 pm

    Unfortunately no snow in this part of the world to try this. thank you

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    April 5, 2013 05:14 am

    scottc - I'm WAY north of you and we are actually expecting snow here today and tomorrow. I'm even north of where Don is!

  • Darlene Hildebrandt

    April 5, 2013 05:13 am

    Great job Don, look forward to more on this subject!

  • Don Komarechka

    April 5, 2013 04:15 am

    Glad you like the pictures mridula! You can take a stab at this with a reverse-mounted 50mm lens on a Canon Rebel with an off-camera flash (or heck, use a Pringles can as a light chute). It'll be more difficult, but don't let the gear stop you. :)

    shokinen, I've tried to "chase after" snow storms without much luck. All of these images are taken a few feet from my back door... makes it easy to get out photographing snowflakes at 3AM when you can quickly get back to bed afterwards. Thanks for enjoying the tutorial - let me know if you try it and show me the results! Happy to give feedback.

  • Shokinen

    April 4, 2013 10:06 pm

    Talk about beeing creative without driving 20miles from your place !
    Very cool, definitly on my list for next year :)

  • mridula

    April 4, 2013 06:18 pm

    Even though there is too much gear involved for me I loved the pictures!

    http://blogs.gonomad.com/traveltalesfromindia/

  • Don Komarechka

    April 4, 2013 12:44 pm

    Thanks very much for all of the compliments everyone! Glad you enjoy the images and the how-to! Don't forget to check out the book project too... I'll have room for a much greater level of detail in the process there. :)

    http://igg.me/at/skycrystals/x/1642596

    Cramer Imaging, there are some fancy tools (focus rails) which can help in the focus stacking process for subjects that allow it. This would typically be within a studio setup where you have complete control over the variables involved. There is specialized software available and they work great for "controlled" stacks, but the free-hand stuff is best sorted out with Photoshop - there are powerful ways to fix mistakes across 40+ frames. Thanks for taking the time to comments and for reading the article.

  • Cramer Imaging

    April 4, 2013 11:48 am

    I was amazed by these images. I've been doing a bit of work in the macro area and I've come to see the limited focal range. I'm not surprised to see that your beautiful images are a compilation of stacked focus pictures. Great job on the selection of pictures to use. I recently read an article on this website about achieving these hyper macro detail shots. I understand there is some expensive fancy gear that can make the shoot easier if using a tripod. I hope your next article has some suggestions on how to merge the multiple photos into the composite image. I have Photoshop but there might be better specialized software available. I would prefer the free version myself. Thanks for taking the time to share on this.

  • Scottc

    April 4, 2013 10:17 am

    The photos and tips are great, but may be a bit late for the season here in the Northern Hemishpere......

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/lendog64/7810551984/

  • Jason Weddington

    April 4, 2013 07:36 am

    Excellent tips and the images are incredible! Thanks for sharing.

  • Maria Assia

    April 4, 2013 04:26 am

    Wow, these shots are fantastic! The detail in the snowflakes is just amazing. They are so organic and at the same time look like they have to be man made. Love it.

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