Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fourth Day of Christmas: More snowflakes

"Snowflakes are the wildflowers of winter that bloom in the sky."
That was the thought that popped into my head as I beheld the snowflakes that had fallen in my snowbound garden yesterday morning.
(My brain keeps saying that the phrase needs work...thanks a bunch La Jolla High School English composition teachers! Forty years later and I can still hear your guiding and chiding voice.)

Any hoo...

Yesterday's snowflake photo op in Millcreek really rev'd my creative photography engine.
Happily the very next day it continued to snow and snow with great snowflakes!
By great snowflakes I mean snowflakes that have elegant shapes as opposed to the fuzzy white balls that so often occur during snow showers.
This time I got out my lens collection, my tripod, and got down to some serious trial and error work.

I actually started with my 50mm lens, then tried my 55-250 telephoto lens on tripod, then for this shot, used my "kit" lens, the 18-55 mm that came with my Rebel 2ti camera, the one I used yesterday, only this time I screwed on a magnifier lens in front of the lens.
Magnifier lens are available on ebay and most camera stores for under $30 and up.

I was holding my camera for this shot, with my shoulder braced against the front door porch posts to steady myself.

The sharp focus area with the magnifier lens is about the size of a pin head.
Aiming at the exact center of the snowflake is a must!
Cropping down to the tiny amount of clear image later is also a must.
It really is unlikely that one can shot from one inch away without having a microscope mounted camera.

Now picture this: I am in my decades old powder suit and lime green snow cap, sitting on our front steps looking closely at the yew bush trying to find great snowflakes.
The neighbors must have thought I was nuts.

I also spent time on my knees with my glasses lowered down on my nose with my face just inches away from the snow on the ground.
It turns out that if one sticks a needle into a pencil erasers, one can pick up snowflakes from snow piles and move the snowflake to a better photographing location.
Sometimes the flake slips off, sometime it shatters.
If first you don't succeed...
I did learn to hold the needle beneath the flake for about three seconds before moving it.
The flake sticks to the needle better.
It is also more difficult to slide it off the needle that way but nothing worth doing is ever easy, right?

This was a snow pile harvested snowflake scraped off onto the yew bark.

Experimenting with moving flakes around only took up about two hours of my life.

The deck coffee table still have one pepper plant that has shriveled up and the chilies need plucking and storing.
I moved a snowflake onto one of the chili tips, then set up my tripod and my telephoto lens, in an experiment to see if I could get a clear shot that way.
See the white blob on the tip of that one chili?

Here it is shot from about five feet away with my 55-250 lens, using a timer option to avoiding shaking the camera when clicking, and also using the sports fast shutter option.

Now I am kicking myself that I didn't just use the kit lens with the magnifier.

Bernie LOVES these shots though.

Earlier I had tripoded and shot with a snowflake where it had fallen on the deck gate rail.
Actually this was my first shot of the day before I moved on to my "experiments".
I think you will see a learning curve!

It felt really good to eventually retire to the kitchen and warm up a bit.
What else did I do on the fourth day of Christmas?
We joined our son's family and his in-laws for dinner.
Luke is their only grandchild as well.
The "Prince" was admired non-stop, and as his gift to his out of town grandmother, he began to crawl up on his hands and knees for the first time while she was babysitting him.
Wiggle waggle bottom time!
Such fun...

All for now.


Just a little something from Judy said...

This afternoon it is really snowing. My daughter and son-in-law just went outside to take pictures. When they came in, I showed them all your pictures, and I must tell you that we are all so impressed with your skills. So impressed!!! Love these pictures.

Sara said...

Snow flakes on chilies....seems oxymoronic somehow, but makes wonderful photos.

I had to laugh when you described your front yard procedures and the glasses halfway down your nose (I totally understand that necessity) while you stare closely at the ground. And your snowflake moving techniques. But it paid off with lovely results.

Down by the sea said...

In thought the snowflakes in your previous post were amazing! We have only seen snowflakes like this as Christmas ornaments and never realised that they looked that like in real life. They are so magical. Thank you for finding me and enabling me to see this wonderful sight!
Sarah x

ellen b. said...

I was just showing all these beautiful photos of the snowflakes to Laura and we said. "And they say there is no God"

This is Belgium said...

love the photographs !
greetings from brussels,

Vee said...

Incredible. What extravagance for a snowflake! If your neighbors saw the results of your efforts, they'd think you were a genius as I do.

RoeH said...

Snowflakes are quite a little miracle in themselves. We never realize what they actually look like until we see shots like these. Incredible!

Lorrie Orr said...

Your patience and trial and error work resulted in some stunning photos. The first is my favourite. A tiny flake, so intricate, balanced on a sprig of green. Just lovely!

Rosella said...

Absolutely incredible pictures!!!!

Anneliese said...

Your snowflake shots are amazing! It's fun to see they really look like that!