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…
I still love to make snowflakes and have taught dozens of children how to get the open and 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.
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. 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.
I remember making those snowflake decorations. They were such fun. I loved how you compared this to real snowflakes and I am amazed at how they look magnified to that degree. Magical!
Thanks Elizabeth. I think they are really magical and totally unique. I’m actually looking forward to the next snow 🙂
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…
LOL – the weather has been too odd this winter. We are expecting snow Sunday so I am getting a sheet of plate glass ready just in case 🙂
Great work. I like your advice about breathing and adopting a certain posture to maintain stillness. Not always very easy! Glad to find your blog as a recommendation on the reader.
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!
I find it hard to stay still full stop! And a natural hand tremor is not the best advantage 🙂 Pleasure to be connected and thanks for stopping by too!
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.
Reblogged this on Paolo Campidori and commented:
A very good research and wanderful pictures
These are so beautiful! Now I wish it would snow where I live so I could try this out!
Well, we have had more than our share of snow this year – you never know 🙂
My gosh, Lorri. These are absolutely stunning!
Thanks Mrs. Fringe! I was kind of surprised by some of the shapes. I may even look foreword to the next snowfall 🙂
Well, I know I’ll be looking forward to *your* next snowfall. 😉
Really beautiful its like poesy, i’m seeing your blog and u have a really nice sensitiv.
greetings from a illustrator from spain 😉
Nature at its best is what you captured here — This is my first visit to your blog and I am really enjoying it — Look forward to reading more
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. 😊
These are awesome! Not like you had anything else to do while you were snowed in! Ha!
LOL — Thanks – It was so cold that I had to do this really quickly, but it was a fun distraction for the days I was stuck at home for sure!
Lorre, these are great! Like much of the east coast we had snow last night and expect more. Perfect timing on a perfectly shot post!
Thanks Elyse. I am happy to be out of the path this time! Stay safe and warm!
Uhhhh. I just came in from several hours of shoveling. I am pooped. And I couldn’t take a break because it started sleeting. 12 inches of snow + sleet = staying home until spring.
I repeat. Uhhh.
I am so sorry to hear that – it has been crazy just about everywhere except the west and they are in a drought.
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 🙂
Thanks so much Jude – I think I knew they were all unique but didn’t really get the diversity until I saw it up close.
Fun comparison – thanks for the smile. You make very nice paper snowflakes. 🙂
Thanks so much – I think I aced them in kindergarten 🙂
I enjoyed that paying the portions you can read too. Very funny. I have often wondered at the miracle of the snowflake and all its intricacies which you captured. Good post.
Thanks Lyle – I’m afraid that I can only afford to pay the parts I can read if I want to keep my car 🙂 I am amazed at the structure of so many things – so uniform and so detailed.
I thin k no matter how hard you try, you will never make them as beautiful as those you captured… lovely..
I think you are right about that – thanks!
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!
Thanks Jackie. I am over the snow here as well. If I could just get enough flakes to shoot, that would do me until thanksgiving 🙂
Thanks so much!
Those flakes are just gorgeous. Nature is art!
Thanks – I think God makes better snowflakes than me 🙂
haha awfully generous of you to say so! 😉
I’m humble like that 😉
LOL! Thanks for the chuckle.
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.
I have been playing with bracketing a bit – the weather has been too cold to get out to the best places to shoot – but I’m eager to get into it.
Love these shots, great work!
Thanks so much!
These are absolutely gorgeous shots!
Thanks so much – it was a fun project to try.
It certainly looks like it was fun 🙂
Only pay the portions you can read!!! Awesome. Tiny miracles, you captured here.
Thanks Steph, I wish my power bill was a bit tinier 🙂