We got a few inches of super light and fluffy snow this afternoon. While looking outside with the kids I commented that it looked like glitter – it was very pretty. I went out to shovel the sidewalk and could not resist taking photos of the snowflakes that I was seeing even though it was 7 degrees out and time to get the kids to sleep :) This is the second time that I have photographed snowflakes and it was exponentially more difficult this time around! The first time was mid-day in bright sunlight so I was able to hold the camera instead of using a tripod. With shutter speeds down to 1/20 second, a tripod was required this time around. My setup included a 100mm Macro and 3 Kenko Extension Tubes (12mm, 20mm, and 36mm). With the Extension Tubes the lens can focus closer than the lens’ usual minimum focusing distance. With this setup there isn’t much room for focusing capabilities like usual as you are taking a photo – you physically have to move the camera forward and backward until the focus is pretty close and then fine-tune with the focus on the lens. This is very challenging when the camera is on a tripod and the subject you are photographing is very tiny :)
Basically I turned live-view on in the camera so that I could see the subject on the screen and moved the camera around until I saw a snowflake illuminated, stopped the tripod there, then focused. Lots of trial and error in finding the snowflakes and I ended up staying outside much longer than I was dressed for ;)
Even though I was photographing a thick pile of fresh snow, the exterior house lights were causing just certain snowflakes to sparkle per viewing angle so this (combined with a low f-stop) allowed for me to get photos where single snowflakes were able to stand out and be isolated. I literally never saw one of the snowflakes that I was photographing with my eyes due to the tiny snowflake size and the ones that were illuminated with my eyes were not the same as those that were illuminated from the point of view of my camera.
And some behind the scenes iPhone shots to attempt to show the scale of the snowflakes, how close I was photographing, and my setup. You can see how just a few snowflakes are really standing out and shining, this is how I was able to capture the snowflakes so illuminated and pretty isolated even though it was a blanket of snow.
In live-view mode, I was able to zoom in to fine-tune the focus on the snowflakes. Here is how the first snowflake above looked from behind the camera.