Peter Zelinka | Back At It

Back At It

January 23, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

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.  

Materials Needed:

  • Black Glove 
  • Tripod
  • Macro Lens
  • Remote Shutter 

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:



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