With our most recent snowstorm abating, but flakes still falling, I wanted to capture images of snow crystals. (Snowflakes are clusters of individual snow crystals.) I really needed my tripod but couldn't find it, and so these photos are the best an amateur like me could do with a macro lens and no tripod. I am no Snowflake Bentley, and that's okay.
I put a few sheets of dark blue and black paper outside for about 20 minutes (the crystals will melt otherwise) before I attempted to take photographs. The fibers in the paper look huge under the macro lens, almost like I was taking pictures of snowflakes on a shag rug. Next time, I would try taking photographs using a piece of plexiglass as a substrate.
I learned many things doing this, and I'll list them for you in no particular order in case you want to try taking similar photos.
1. Choose a smooth-grained dark piece of paper (or clear plexi) on which to capture the snow crystals. Let it sit outside awhile so that the crystals don't melt on it.
2. Use a tripod and a macro lens.
3. Consider using manual focus over auto focus. My husband looked at my photos and said they would have turned out better with manual focus. However, I have poor eyesight and could hardly see the nearly-microscopic bits of snow, let alone determine whether I had them in focus, so I continued with the auto focus option.
4. Watch out for wind. Be patient, but act quickly when you spot a beautiful crystal. They often melt upon landing, or get an arm broken when another crystal lands on top.
5. Try taking photographs at intervals throughout the day. I noticed that the size and quality of the snow crystals changed as the day went on. Larger snowflakes were obviously easier to see and photograph.
My results are not spectacular; clearly I am no professional. (I increased the contrast in the photographs to make it easier to see the crystals.) The kids and I were thrilled nonetheless. It was magical to see these gorgeous bits of nature up close.
This is one time where I would urge you to click on each photo to see it larger.
Tomorrow I'll share some books we've enjoyed about snowflakes, including those that inspired me to attempt to photograph the crystals.