Photographing snowflakes doesn’t have to be expensive. In this short 4.5 minute video from photographer Jens Heidler on his YouTube Channel Another Perspective, he teaches you how you can replicate these larger-than-life photos with even entry-level equipment.
Heidler has recently demonstrated how to photograph frozen soap bubbles as well as a beautiful film showing melting snowflakes reforming. The latter film was made using the techniques he reveals in the video above.
While you can use extremely expensive high-end equipment to shoot super high-resolution photos of snowflakes, most people don’t have access to the ability to do that. But just because you don’t own a microscope and a medium format camera doesn’t mean you can’t make great photos.
Heidler explains that because snowflakes are so small, between 1mm and 10mm across, in order to accurately capture that entire range, you need a 5:1 macro lens. While you could buy one of these, you can also combine a 1:1 macro lens with something like the Raynox DCR-250 which can give you enough magnification to capture larger snowflakes without breaking the bank.
Using a 1:1 magnification macro lens with the Raynox adapter will work for the larger snowflakes, but if you want to capture the smallest ones (down to 1mm in size) you’ll need more magnification. To do this, you’ll need at least a 2:1 macro lens combined with the Raynox DCR-250 in order to get enough magnification.
You can also use extension tubes or even teleconverters for this, which is a process you can read about more here.
Once your optics are taken care of, you can really use any camera you like. Heidler is using the Sony a6000 series, for example, but any entry-level camera body that is compatible with the optics you choose will work great.
As for actual photo-taking techniques, Heidler recommends using a dark background so that the snowflakes stand out. What he does is place a black t-shirt in the snow and wait for flakes to fall onto it and then photographs them as he sees ones that catch his eye.
“What also works great is a glass table or a black plexiglass table,” Heidler says.
Heidler says that it can be challenging to find a snowflake using such high magnification optics once you see one with your naked eye, so another great tip that may sound simple is to have something you can use to give yourself a starting point. Heidler recommends using something like scissors, and placing it below the snowflake you want to find before you try and search for it through the lens.
Heidler mentions several other techniques such as stabilization on hand-held shots and the best way to light snowflakes, in his video above. If you’re interested in taking your snowflake photography to the next level, you can learn how to add vibrant colors to your snowflake photos here.
For more from Heidler, subscribe to his YouTube Channel, Another Perspective.
Image Credits: Photos by Jens Heidler and used with permission.