Since I have observed that snow flake formation varies with air temperature and wind, I have learned to treasure a snowfall that produces elegant flake shapes.
If you were to see me checking and checking the flakes from the first flurry you would think I was mad.
When a highly detailed flake falls and the temperatures are low enough that the flake doesn't melt,
I gather my camera, tripod, flashlight, fingerless gloves, warm boots, snow suit, glass table topper, chair and race outside to experiment with snowflake photography.
The flake above was photographed on glass and I shone a LED flashlight diffused with a white plastic at above and to the side of the flake.
The flake photo shows the flake's shadow; the flake's dimension is evident.
Here's the same flake lit from below, under the glass, with the same flashlight.
The same flake, photographed using just natural light.
I confess that I get pretty excited when a lovely single flake lands without shattering and unattached to other flakes.
I had acquired a book about snowflake identification and was blown away by the clear photographs of the snowflakes. Then I read an article wherein a Russian snowflake photographer Alexey Kijatov shared his snowflake photography tips.
He has lots of quite complicated instructions to use in snowflake photography; it was his suggestion to light the flakes from beneath glass using a LED flashlight that I had been waiting for months to try.
Using a LED flashlight really worked!
(That's bit of broken ice sheeting below that flake.)
The shots from below show great details but they do seem flat, like a line drawing.
Lit from the side: a bit less detail but a better sense that this is an actual flake.
I love how the condensation and streaks from wiping the glass adds texture to the photo too.
I still don't know why the lighting goes purple from that angle though.
Same flashlight from above or to the side.
I also don't know why the natural light read as red in the photo.
The glass was resting on a patio side table legs; below the glass was black.
I also do not know why some flakes appear white while others appear clear.
(or why Picasa sometimes adds snowflakes to a photo...)
Using burst shooting I captured the subtle change as the flake melted just slightly.
This was a second shot; look at the center.
Compared to the shot before that showed the indentation in the center.
Wild what a quarter of a second can do.
Usually the flakes clump up.
This clump was fun because of the star fish shape attached to the twin flakes.
The small black bubbles are water molecules that had attached to the crystal shape in the air.
The slight out of focus could have occurred because the snowflake didn't land completely flat, or I had pressed the camera slightly out of a perfect parallel to the glass.
I learned to pay attention to the leveling bubbles on the side of my tripod.
If a bubble was just slightly out of the middle, part of the flake would be out of focus.
I thought the diamond shape in the center of this flake was unusual.
I wasn't checking to see if my shots were successful or not as I was working and only tried a side lit shot a few times. Next good snowfall I want to work on that method as I think they are especially sparkly.
The flake as seen on the edge of the glass table top.
It was a pretty good sized flake.
Same flake up close.
Lit from below.
Lit from the side.
Another flake, lit from below.
And lit with natural light.
And a barely lit from below snowflake pile.
This coming week is to have several heavy snowfalls.
While lots of people back east have just had it with snowfall, I am delighted.
Fall leaves, winter snow flakes and spring flowers.