Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Seventh Day of Christmas: New Years Eve

Only a twenty percent chance of precipitation was forecast for New Years Eve. I was kind of bummed to see no real snow predicted for the next ten days. I really wanted to keep attempting to photograph snowflakes and I also wanted an opportunity to rent a 100mm macro lens from our local photography store. (It is a pretty cool deal to be able to rent a $900 lens for $20 bucks a day if you ask me!)

As I wiped up the kitchen after breakfast a few flakes started falling, then it began to snow in earnest.
I raced out to the deck to see what I could shoot this time.

The chili peppers were getting a nice assortment of flake shapes.

Hard metal services were sporting great shapes too.

The sharp needles of a potted plant was catching and holding the flakes beautifully.

Can you guess what surface this is?

The watering can handle was proving to be another wonderful surface for snowflake capture.

The metal's oxidation became quite colorful up close and with a touch of saturation added the snowflakes appeared to be resting on a rustic rainbow.

One small frustration with maco photography:
Usually only a quarter inch of anything can be photographed in sharp focus.

These flakes were closer to a third of an inch in size, and presenting a wonderful array of shapes too.

Eventually I moved to our front yard and back to the small yew tree growing by the front steps.
Note that the snowflakes were beginning to take on a uniform star shape.

I had read that temperature and humidity dictate snowflake shape.
As the day wore on (and by wore on I mean eight hours went by between shooting, processing photo and going back outside) I noticed that there were few if any unusually shaped flakes.

When I did see a single flake I focused heavily on it.

Notice the daisy chain of five flakes at the tip of the yew needle?
That simple shape was easy to find and was only about an eight of an inch big.
I especially enjoy the internal etching on this snowflakes arms.

Two tiny branch buds were used by me frequently to balance needle collected flakes for close ups.

I had unscrewed my wide angle macro lens and rested it on the concrete step.
When I noticed snowflakes had fallen on the lens, I took a closer look and discovered a wonderful resource for gathering individual flakes.

The woven back ground is the fabric of my powder suit beneath the camera lens.
The lens is sitting on my knee at this point.
I thought it was so interesting how some flakes are opaque white while others are transparent.

The flakes on my camera lens...the edge will give you an idea of how big the flakes are.

I shifted between looking for flakes on the yew and looking a flakes on the lens.

Doesn't this remind you of a dandelion puff?

Back to the lens.
The long are is actually a second snowflake that had hitched a ride down from the sky.
Finding a single snowflake without hitchhikers is really challenging.

I love this fern-y flake with a flower shape in the middle.

Same fern flake next to a meadow of snowflakes!
The snow was falling in a variety of sizes at this point.

Opaque and crystalline flakes combine.
Makes me wonder what determines which way the flake will go as it is being made.
(I also like the little butterfly shaped flake near the bottom of the picture!)

Have to admit I do like the crystalline flakes the best.

A big flake with a hanging daisy chain!

At this point the flakes were really getting small and I was very cold.

Ever so often there was still a big flake.

The flake on the left is a smaller flake sitting on a larger flake while the flake above is two almost identically formed flakes sitting one atop the other.
I frequently found "twin" flakes resting one atop the other; when touched by a needle tip the top flake would spin and reveal itself as a separate flake.

Twin flakes again...one atop the other. 

Ghost like flakes.
I like the tiny flower shape off to the lower left.

The rosette shows a shadow of arms that have somehow nearly vanished.

About three stacked flakes make up this flake.

One variation of snowflakes is a cylinder.
The flakes were heading in that direction.
I had started taking pictures around nine am, at eleven I decided to make a run over to the camera shop and rent their 100mm macro lens.
Lucky me...with the next day being New Years I could rent the lens for two days and only pay half rent price on the holiday since they would be closed!

See a difference?

Now I can get much sharper focus in a wider area.

The sharpness and wider area is the good news.
The bad news is that the lens runs from close focus to infinity focus and back and forth trying to figure out what to focus on.
I attempted to use manual focus with little success and actually found that it was much, much more difficult to get a photo of any one thing in particular.

Reviews of that lens had cited the fact that getting a locked in focus was quite difficult and several people asked why the lens couldn't be configured to a pre-set focal distance.

Above: A snowflake resting on frozen water atop our wood deck railing.

There must be a solution to the mechanical challenges of using the 100 mm lens.
When I take the lens back I will quiz the photography specialist about that and of course try to do some research on my own.
I really, really like getting images like the one above; I really don't like spending ten to fifteen minutes trying to get the lens to focus to get such a shot.

After it got dark I attempted to take some flash photos too.
The few that "worked" were great.
Mostly the camera flickered light then the focus would shift and the shutter button wouldn't engage.

The macro photography learning curve continues.
There is no snow falling here as I write this on New Years Day and none forecast for awhile.
I believe I will spend the first day of 2013 as many folks do: taking down the dried up tree that is still beautiful but must go before any newly minted "four on the floor-rear in gear" grandchild comes for a visit.
It is a new era for sure around here.
Joy to all in the New Year!


ellen b. said...

Jaw dropping intricate tiny flakes of snow. Amazing.

Vee said...

Absolutely incredibly fascinating. You're quickly becoming the expert in Blogdom on all things snowflake. How wonderful to get totally lost in a project and not be aware of the passing time. Interesting, too, about the different lenses...until you told me, I did not see the difference being the non-observant type. You certainly have some beautiful photos from this adventure...worthy of the prize. Thank you for sharing them all! (Some of them remind me of my grandmother's jewelry from the 50s. Is that just me?)

Sara said...

I'm mesmerized! Words fail me. Wow.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Wow! I think we all need to see through different lenses on occasion. So beautiful.

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Such beautiful drips. You are just having way too much fun over there!