How To Photograph Snowflakes

One of the most elegant things nature is capable of producing, snowflakes are an incredible phenomenon, and with no two snowflakes being the same, it makes capturing their unique formations even more desirable.

How To Photograph Snowflakes

The issue is, capturing these elusive flakes can be rather difficult if you’ve never done it before. 

In this guide, we’ll provide you with all of the information you need on how to capture snowflakes, including what equipment you’ll need, how you can create the perfect background for your snowflake photo, as well as a step-by-step guide on how to photograph them too. 

Along the way, you’ll pick up all of the tips and tricks you need to be successful in your quest for the perfect snowflake photo, so let’s get started! 

Equipment Needed

Before we can begin to take a look at the tutorial for taking snowflake shots, you’ll first need to ensure that you have all of the necessary equipment in place to accomplish these photos. 

The first thing to realize about snowflake photography is that it’s a form of macro photography, which means you’ll need equipment that will allow you to take pictures higher than 1:1 magnification – which is where the object in the sensor is the same size as it is in real life. 

Smartphones can sometimes have a macro mode, but when it comes to shooting snowflakes, they’re less than ideal. 

There are plenty of great macro point-and-shoot or bridge cameras out there that you can use. But don’t worry, if you have a mirrorless or a DSLR camera, you’re not without options. 

The first option you have is to purchase and use a macro lens. These telephoto lenses provide you with a particularly close near point, allowing you to get up close to the object you’re photographing, while not becoming blurred. 

A reversing ring is also a good option for those looking to do some macro photography, especially if you have an old lens lying around that you’re not using.

This will allow you to attach your lens to your normal camera in reverse, providing you with the ability to shoot macro. 

Similarly, extension tubes are also a popular choice for those looking to shoot in macro. They fit between your lens and the body of your camera, and help by extending the lens’ magnification. 

Macro filters are the other great pieces of equipment for shooting macro. Just like the glasses in the lens, they allow you to get a closer focus on the object you’re shooting.

The only downside is that you might find some distortion around the edges of your shot, which will need cropping out later. 

Some people might decide to use a ring flash to help make the snowflake they’re photographing sparkle, but you might not need this if you have plenty of ambient lighting. 

Creating The Perfect Background

It might seem difficult, but choosing the background for your snowflake shots is relatively simple. 

Try to pick somewhere where snow falls (see also “How To Photograph Snow“), but try to ensure that you keep a dark background, as it will provide the perfect contrast between the snowflake and the background .

It’s common for photographers to use hats, scarves, and gloves that snowflakes have fallen on as a background, especially if they’re dark in color. 

If the snowflake is sitting on the glass of a window, then it can make for an especially nice photo, allowing you to provide some scenery in the background. 

Step-By-Step Guide

Step-By-Step Guide

So, now that you have all of the right equipment, and know the type of background you should be aiming to use, it’s time for us to look at how you can photograph snowflakes for yourself. 

Step 1: Adjust Settings

Because the settings you need can change depending on your location and the context of the shot, no one predetermined settings option is going to be the best, so you’ll need to adjust the settings on the fly. 

You’ll first want to start by using the manual mode on the camera, which will provide you with more control of the exposure settings. 

To shoot the snowflakes well, you’ll want to have a shallow depth of field, which will help to lift them out of the background. For this, try an aperture somewhere between f/5.6 and f/11. 

Meanwhile, your ISO should be as low as possible, with somewhere between 100 and 200 being ideal, and adjusting it accordingly depending on how dark your shots come out. 

Finally, the shutter speed will need to be determined depending on your other settings, and the amount of light available, but try something as fast as 1/100 at first, although you might need to go faster.

Step 2: Shoot

With your settings adjusted, it’s time for you to shoot! Using your chosen background, try to get in as many shots of the snowflake as possible before it melts or gets covered with more snow. 

Taking as many shots as possible will also increase your chances of getting the shot you want.

Step 3: Check And Repeat

Once you’ve got plenty of shots, be sure to check them in your camera’s LCD to ensure that they are clear and crisp. Don’t be afraid to adjust and repeat the shot with a different snowflake if you feel you need to! 

Tips And Tricks For Getting The Perfect Shot

Capturing snowflakes isn’t overly complicated, but here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind when doing so! 

  • Snowfall: Because they’re quick to melt, try to capture them during snowfall, as they’ll be fresh, and will last longer before disappearing. 
  • Dress Warm: Remember, it’s going to be cold, so be sure to dress appropriately if you plan on spending a long time outside photographing the snowflakes
  • Spare Batteries: Batteries die quicker in cold temperatures, so having a spare battery on you is a great way to ensure that you can shoot for longer. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide to photographing snowflakes has been able to help you understand the process better. Now the next time it snows, you’ll be able to capture it perfectly!

Laura McNeill

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