The Beauty of the Beast: Capturing Snowflakes with the Magic of Macro.
Hello, my name is Janice and I’m an addict.
200 a day is chicken feed. Yesterday, I was in the high hundreds despite never venturing more than 50 yards from the house.
To be clear, I’m talking about taking photographs.
Today I’m totally transfixed with snowflakes. The beautiful, ethereal side effect of the current National Obsession, the so called Beast from the East.
In fact, I should be at work right now, but my car won’t get to the main road a mile away and public transport through the village has been suspended. So here I am with an impromptu holiday. Every cloud has a silver lining.
A Macro lens for a system camera is the essential piece of kit when photographing snowflakes. It may look like they are reasonably large when they float down from the sky, but each one is a cluster of much smaller individual crystal flakes. The individual crystals are around 2mm across.
With the closest focus on my camera using a good macro lens I get a 1:1 recording on the digital media. That means the snowflake occupies just 2mm on the sensor which is almost 18mm wide.
At this end of the scale, the depth of field is very narrow. Only a millimetre depth may be in focus. Add to this the amount of available light and the project becomes a challenge.
In fact, it has taken a few days to come up with a method that works.
First of all you need a surface to collect a few snowflakes. I used an 8" box frame. The depth of the frame meant I could stand it on an edge supported between 2 bricks. A vertical surface is the best to collect your flakes as you don’t end up with too many and have to keep clearing the surface.
Once the surface is dotted, place your frame over a suitably sized container with the flakes facing down. I used a clear pyrex dish. If it isn’t too windy protect the area with an umbrella or find a naturally sheltered area.
You can now take your shots as close as you can. I used a low ISO of 200 as I knew I would have to zoom in close on the final image. Lots of noise would spoil the final image which contains lots of minute details. If this creates a shutter speed that is too slow, you can bring in extra light. I find a small LED torch extremely useful here. It has a cool light which suits the subject.
Over to You.
A few simple tools are all you need to get started on this project. Make it your own by adding backgrounds when you are shooting or use your photo editing skills to create a something completely different.
Happy shooting, and don’t forget to wrap up warm. :-)