There hasn’t been a lot of opportunities to go out and find beautiful, wintery landscapes to photograph recently. Temperatures have also been staying quite cold so I’ve taken this opportunity to capture more snowflakes under the camera lens whenever a few flakes have fallen and have been having a lot of fun doing it. A previous post with more snowflake photos can be found here.
Some snowfalls don’t produce much for interesting snowflakes while at other times there are so many to choose from that they can’t all be photographed before blowing away or disappearing. Yes, they disappear even in very cold weather. I can only assume it’s due to the very dry air near the ground causing these delicate ice crystals to evaporate.
The many different shapes and make up of these ice crystals continues to amaze me with each one I see. Some are so sharp and pointy while others are more rounded. It’s also fascinating to see the different stages of development of different snowflakes in each photograph that surrounds the larger one focused on. In some cases you can see the center of a developing snowflake that has fallen before growing larger. Other times seeing the different fragments that have broken off from a snowflake during its journey to the ground provide some great shapes.
At times there are multiple snowflakes frozen together such as in the picture above. On the longest branch there is the center of another developing snowflake frozen to the larger snowflake. In addition, the branch next to this one you can see the beginning of the center of another snowflake. One theory indicates these snowflakes collided on their trip from the clouds and merged together. I wonder if it’s possible these centers formed at the tip of these branches. Fun to discover regardless of how they were created. I hope you enjoy viewing these and also find it fascinating to see the different shapes they develop into.
Over the past couple of weeks snow has began to fall creating a beautiful white blanket covering the landscape. When looking out at this landscape it just looks like a white fluff everywhere that we have to shovel and drive over. Examining this white that covers everything shows some amazing micro formations, each one different from one another. Once again I’ve been trying to capture these snowflakes with a camera hoping to reveal the incredible structures many of these ice crystals possess.
Photographing them can be a bit of a challenge as it can be difficult to find a single snowflake in the camera among so many others with a macro lens because it is out of focus until the camera and lens are at just the right distance and then its unique and amazing shape begins to reveal itself as long as there is enough light reflecting from it. Once I find it in the camera it’s time to set up the tripod and again get the camera as close as I can and have the snowflake be in focus. These are sometimes difficult to get in sharp focus because their clear ice crystals so you don’t always realize if the snowflake is in focus or the sharp focus is behind it. And it’s such a small subject anyway which always makes things more challenging.
Before taking too many pictures it’s a good idea to make sure the snowflake is positioned correctly so the camera can pick up the detail in each segment. Once positioned well the camera needs to be adjusted to bring it into focus and stabilized so there is no movement in either the ice crystal or the camera otherwise everything becomes a little blurry. With everything finally set up its time to take the picture. Using the camera timer or remote shutter is a good idea as just the act of pushing the shutter button will most likely result in a little movement and a blurry photo.
One other element to photographing the incredible ice crystals is that is has to be done in the cold. This alone presents challenges. You need to acclimate the camera and lenses to the cold otherwise they can fog up and your out of luck getting good pictures so a little preparation ahead of time will help. Also you need to make sure you stay warm in order to successfully accomplish the fine movements necessary to capture a beautiful snowflake without breaking it. In addition what ever surface your using to hold the snowflake must be cold or it will melt before you can take the picture. Even with that wind can ruin the shot. Snowflakes are a subject that requires fairly quick reaction as they begin to break down within a short time of landing on the ground giving an hour or two to capture this great architecture created in the sky. With all of these challenges, snowflakes are a great source of amazement to view after they’re gone making them worth the effort to capture.
My last post on snowflakes showed some of the attempts at photographing a snowflake. While playing around with the camera and trying to get close ups of snowflakes I realized how interesting light reflecting off of them can be so I wanted to photograph snowflakes in the sunlight and see how sunlight reflecting off of these little crystals would look especially after seeing a fresh snow and all of the little sparkling diamonds and their range of colors in the sunlight.
What I found was a little disappointing but still fascinating. On a recent snowfall I went out about 6 hours after it was done and the sun began to shine. It was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit so still well into the freezing temperatures which should preserve the snow. In this short time most of the snowflakes were no longer in their original shapes but melting together to form larger pieces of ice. There were a few snowflakes here and there that had kept the form in which they landed in tact but not many as you can see in the above photo. The sun is reflecting off of one of these snowflakes only hours old.
Looking at the same bright snowflake from another perspective shows the melting even better and how unique an relatively intact snowflake is shortly after a fresh snowfall. I have never taken time to look closely at a recent snowfall so it was fun to discover how they transform in such a short time.
I tried many different ways to capture single snowflakes and their unique shapes without any success as you can see in the photo above. Still, I find it interesting to see the ridge of larger ice crystals formed by the melting taking place in the sunlight on this juniper tree.
In areas that have had more time in the sunlight the progression was even further as all of the snowflakes had melted into larger pieces of ice which reflected the sunlight beautifully. As they continue to melt further in the warm sunlight they create icicles. Fascinating and beautiful.
One of my goals for 2016 is to photograph snowflakes so here is my first attempt. It was really interesting to see how unique and beautiful snowflakes can be. While learning how to begin doing this I saw several images of individual snowflakes that were amazing. As snow falls they appear white but when looking at them closely you can see the ice crystals which are more clear. Taking the photographs of snowflakes was not as much fun as I hoped mostly because I was tired and cold and not really wanting to be outside at that time after work but sometimes images aren’t convenient and available on our schedule. Once I finished and was able to view them on the computer it became a lot more fun to see the different shapes, sizes, and formation of these ice crystals. I won’t look at snow the same again.
Since I was photographing these at dusk I needed to take time to work with lower light which meant longer shutter times on the camera and using additional light to get sharper images. After all was complete and I looked at these on the computer I saw how interesting it can be to reflect different colors of light off of these crystals so the time of day worked out well and taught me more than I think I could have learned photographing these at another time of day. With my equipment there isn’t much more I can do to get close ups of snowflakes so next time I want to try different compositions to get interesting pictures of snowflakes. Investing in better equipment isn’t something I want to do at this time.