Paper or Ice? Maybe We Got it Right in Kindergarten.

I grew up in the desert. I saw snow in a measurable amount about once a decade. Even so, making paper snowflakes was one of my favorite projects in school. Over the years I made them out of various types of paper – tissue paper, construction paper, my report card…you get the idea. I still love to make them – here’s one I made with my power bill that just arrived…

Seems pretty appropriate, given the winter we have had so far. I think I will only pay the parts I can read...

Seems pretty appropriate, given the winter we have had so far. I think I will only pay the portions I can read.

I still love to make snowflakes and have taught dozens of children how to get the open andΒ airy feel over the years. What never occurred to me was the idea that my desert-born imaginings of snowflakes might not be so far off the mark.

A couple of weeks ago we were pummeled with about a foot of show on a Sunday afternoon. People were stranded getting home from church, the grocery store was out of milk and bread, and I had been busy shooting cardinals and other birds as they flocked to the feeders.

I stepped outside and noticed that the snow was really fluffy and wondered what it would look like shot through my macro lens. I knew I needed contrast so I looked for the smoothest flat black objects I could find to capture the flakes. I tried a microfiber cloth, a crock pot, a frying pan – ultimately I ended up turning a black t-shirt inside out. In the weather at the angles I was trying to focus at, a tripod was out of the question, so all of these images are handheld shots. Click through for your very own micro snowstorm:

So, I guess my power bill really doesn’t compare to the complexity and beauty of something so delicate and perfect, but I think that my classmates and I got closer than we could have imagined.

Shutterbug Notes:

Shooting macro handheld is easier if you use some breathing techniques. It’s kind of like firing a rifle – take aim, exhale, fire the shutter. Exhaling eliminates some movement. It also helps to pull your elbows into your body to make yourself into a tripod. Β I prefer to shoot macro from a tripod because it’s easier to focus and play with aperture and shutter settings. the challenge is always to get the depth of field right. When snow is falling you have to move fairly quickly because the flakes you are shooting are covered pretty quickly.Β 

54 thoughts on “Paper or Ice? Maybe We Got it Right in Kindergarten.

  1. Snowflakes amaze me every single time. I saw some beautiful ones in Canada while I was there for Christmas. Your pictures of the mare beautiful. Sometimes they freeze like that on glass which creates a really interesting effect as well. Unfortunately it hasn’t snowed here yet and I don’t think it’s going to, the crocuses and hazles are already in bloom and the blossom is on its way out as well. It’s crazy! I wouldn’t be surprised if I see lambs running about in the fields tomorrow…

    • Thanks! It is definitely not easy to stay still in the cold – I have some ideas I hope to try out this weekend – but for a first effort I was pretty happy. Thanks for checking out my blog!

        • So true! A friend I shoot with is dealing with a tremor and she packs a monopod when we go shooting. I gave her an electronic view finder for Christmas and adding that point of contact has really steadied her up. Your work is really beautiful. I can see that we are drawn to similar details.

          • Thank you so much, I’m pleased that you like it. Details and symmetry are irresistible to my eyes. As for the trouble keeping very still, the Fuji’s viewfinder is a great guide although getting utter crispness is sometimes frustrating.

  2. Really beautiful its like poesy, i’m seeing your blog and u have a really nice sensitiv.
    greetings from a illustrator from spain πŸ˜‰

  3. Beautiful! Gorgeous! Wish all this snow would go away!! I too have tried to photograph snowflakes. I just don’t know enough to get those types of shots though. I wonder if my macro lens just isn’t cutting it. Either way – love these photos!!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks! I wish it were all gone, I’m so over winter. I started out using the macro lens with the camera set to the macro scene mode to get a sense of where my setting needed to be. I had never tried this before and it’s actually harder than shooting insects. I also have this little flex light that I can use on my hot shoe, it’s not a flash, it’s constant. It helped a lot. I saw an article about shooting them on glass, I would almost welcome another snowfall to try that, well, almost. 😊

  4. Goodness me, aren’t these astonishing! I knew that every snowflake is unique, but when it is falling as thick flakes you forget how intricately patterned they are. Marvellous photography Lorri πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Lyle – I’m afraid that I can only afford to pay the parts I can read if I want to keep my car πŸ™‚ I am amazed at the structure of so many things – so uniform and so detailed.

  5. Snowflakes are amazing! It makes me appreciate the snow a tiny bit better when I can picture my yard full of tiny perfect snowflakes instead of piles of white stuff. I love these Lorri!

  6. Great shots and the final one……..just perfect.

    I never realised that snow flakes had such beautiful patterns.

    Good to hear the tips on breathing too. Many a hand-held macro shot has been spoilt by my heavy breathing. If one hasn’t got a tripod, it helps to take the macro shots at the beginning of a walk, not the end, when you’re more likely to be breathing heavily from the cold and/or exertion.

    • Thanks Vicky, I had seem some microscopic photos a few years ago and never dreamed I would get so much detail handheld with my macro lens. It’s one of the best things I have bought. I want to get a macro ring like yours to do more. A local newspaper photographer gave me the breathing tip – he can shoot 1/10 of a second handheld.

      • I think that ring light is fantastic. I took it over to the Gardens on Tuesday, but couldn’t find any really good flower blooms in the shade to try it out. The flowers have mostly died in the heat.

        Because of my heart condition and lack of blood supply, I have to walk slowly, but unfortunately still breathe very heavily when I stop every 40-50 feet to take a photo. I can only shoot hand-held down to 1/40, even then, it’s usually luck when I get a hand-held macro with good focus. Gosh, its sometimes luck when I get any shot in focus – lol. Tuesday I had the heavy duty tripod with me, but it still seemed to wobble in the soft grass and I completely forgot to get the remote cable release out of my bag.

        I think of so many things when I arrive home and see my afternoon’s images on the big screen. I keep saying to myself “Now, why didn’t I do……………”

        I tried some Auto Exposure Bracketing on Monday for the first time (in the city), but the shots weren’t good or interesting enough to share.

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