Photographing a Snowflake

   Several months back I had the opportunity to share my "How to do Star Trail Photography" presentation at the Southern Appalacian Nature Photographers club meeting in Knoxville.  After the meeting, one of the members came up to me to show me a different kind of photography that she is in to… snow flake photography!  I was so inspired by her work that I decided to give it a try on my own.  Well, these last several weeks here in East Tennessee have provided a few opportunities to try to capture a good photograph of a snow flake.  If you are friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen some of my earlier attempts.  After seeing those, a friend of mine named Brett Winston, shared with me this link: How to Photograph Snowflakes with a DSLR.  Very cool stuff, and more inspiration!

   I can safely say that doing this sort of photography is extremely challenging… especially without a flash, and no extension tubes for my macro lens.  The image you see above is heavily cropped; frankly I'm not sure I could blow it up much more than I did.  BUT, wow, so much fun!  The first day out, I didn't realize how fortunate I was because the conditions apparently have to be just right to produce this type of snowflake.  Some days I would go out and the flakes would be all clumped together, other days I would go out and they would simply be little shards of ice.  Pretty, but not snowflakie.  Finally, on one of the last days it snowed here the conditions worked out again and I was able to capture this image.  To give you some context, this flake was laying on a fleece hat I have; one that doesn't look nearly as fiberous from a normal distance as it does at this extreme closeness.  On this particular day, the temperature was hovering just around freezing, so I had about a minute or so and then this flake was gone.  Needless to say, you have to work quickly in conditions like that.

   Now that I've tried my hand at taking a picture of a snowflake, I have a tremendous amount of respect for those that can do it well.  The images I got were a far cry from the woman who shared her pictures with me (I wish I could remember her name!), but I'll definitely be trying it again.  If you're like me though, I'm sure you're hoping it won't be until next Winter that I get that opportunity, BUT if it does snow again, and you happen to see me standing out in it holding out a fleece hat, you'll know what I'm up to.

–Dan Thompson