Now that winter is finally here in Northeast Ohio I can get some new snowflake photos!
After some trial and error, I finally have a pretty good system for taking snowflake photos.
I take my black glove (that I leave outside, so it stays cold) and hold it up in the air to catch snowflakes. I will also take the glove and lightly place it on some snow, which usually catches a couple nice flakes.
Make sure your camera and lens is set to Manual Focus. I like to leave my Macro lens at the 1:1 zoom, that way I can get the snowflakes as big as possible. I try to take about 4-5 photos of each snowflake, which I later blend in Photoshop. I usually start with the bottom of the snowflake in focus, then slowly rotate the focus ring until I have photos of the entire snowflake in-focus.
Shutter speed is around 1/200s, this helps to minimize any blur caused by the wind shaking the snowflake. If it's a calm day though, the shutter speed can be as low as 1/4s. My ISO ranged from 1000 - 2000. I shoot between f/8 - f/11. This allows me to have a decent amount of the snowflake in-focus, and minimizes diffraction. Click the photo below to see the difference between f/11, f/22, and f/45:
As you can see, at f/45 the entire snowflake and background is in focus, however it's not at all sharp. This is caused by Diffraction. For this particular snowflake, I think f/22 is the clear winner. With f/11 I would have had to take multiple photos and spend a decent amount of time blending them together in Photoshop.
Going forward, I think I will start shooting between f/16 - f/22. When I shoot at or below f/11 it requires a lot of photo-stacking. With f/16-f/22 you will probably only need to stack 2 images at most, and the loss of sharpness from Diffraction will be negligible.
Recently I got to play around with my friend's Canon 65mm Macro lens. That lens is essentially a microscope, producing up to a 5:1 ratio! Click the photo below to see my Snowflake Gallery: