Snow again!

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    Frazer Family

    May 9, 2016 in Sherbrooke, Quebec. The snow falling outside (coming down quite hard right now!) reminded me of some photos I took last month. Using my dad’s 60mm’ f/2.8 and his new extension tube I got these. This set up is much easier to work with than my previous one! And I don’t have to crop the photos down dramatically. I still have a couple issues, though. For others who do snowflake photography, what kind of light source do you use? These shots were actually taken at night. I set up a 11-watt fluorescent bulb under a sheet of glass. The pictures came out red/orange, however. To get the blue colour, I had to slide the temperature control in Lightroom right down to the bottom. Also, even though I was using a fairly cool bulb, the snowflakes kept melting on me. Admittedly, it was pretty warm out: about -2.

    David Frazer

    I’m not exactly a snowflake photographer, but I do have a couple of comments.

    I notice you have your white balance set to manual in both pictures. I don’t know the details of that preset, but you could try to set your white balance to tungsten. From the metadata, the camera apparently thought the light source was “Cloudy”.

    What bothers me with these pictures is the noise – did you have to brighten them quite a bit? I notice the Exposure Compensation is set to -2/3. I would be inclined to bring the iso down to 100, leave the EC at 0 and adjust the exposure using the shutter speed – as long as the snowflakes aren’t melting too fast and the setup is quite stable. ๐Ÿ™‚ The noise might also have appeared when did the drastic colour balance shift, I’m not sure.

    I took it into Darktable and de-noised and sharpened some – I assume Lightroom can do some similar things… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Frazer Family

    Thanks for the suggestions, David Frazer! I rarely think about the white balance on my camera. I was under the impression that white balance doesn’t matter much when I’m shooting raw because of it can simply be changed in Lightroom. (So perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered with my question about lighting. ๐Ÿ™‚ Except that the 11w was too hot at -2.)

    Yes, I had to brighten the picture a lot. I think I boosted the exposure to 2.0… I should have used a longer shutter speed… and a tripod. ๐Ÿ™‚ The snowflakes were melting quickly, but not so quickly that I couldn’t have increased the exposure time. My set up wasn’t very stable, though – a piece of glass balanced on the edge of the balcony stair and a bag of sand with my camera placed gently on the glass. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think the EC being at -2/3 impacted the picture any since I was shooting in completely Manual.

    I haven’t done a lot with de-noising and sharpening. I’ll have to try it out.

    Now you have raised another question in my mind. Does dramatic colour balance shifting create noise? If that’s the case, I probably should really pay much more attention to white balance.

    Ezra Morley

    Congratulations! Now you know how it is to be using “real” extension tubes, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ouch! You definitely don’t want to be pushing your photos 2 whole stops, that’s a good recipe for noise. ๐Ÿ™

    I’ve never taken snowflake pictures at night, but if I did, I’d use an LED of some sort. An LED flashlight with a rechargeable battery, or maybe even and LED lightbulb instead of your fluorescent one. An LED has a much “cooler” light, which will help with your WB issue; and LEDs burn very cool, so they won’t melt your crystal as fast.

    You are right, you don’t have to worry about WB if you are shooting in RAW. And to answer your question about WB affecting noise, yes, it does. However, I don’t think it’s major enough to worry about normally. If you get your exposure pretty close so that you don’t have to push your photo a couple of stops, then I don’t think that the WB change will give you enough noise to worry about. Here are a couple of references for WB/noise: (The last 3 paragraphs are what you are interested in.)

    You should be able to get better results than @DFrazer with your RAW file as far as NR and sharpening go.

    I know all about balancing camera, lens, and glass precariously to get the perfect shot. I’ve shot snowflakes on the corner of a fence before!

    Frazer Family

    Now you know how it is to be using โ€œrealโ€ extension tubes, huh? ๐Ÿ™‚

    Yes, and I’m not likely to want to go back to the PVC unless the “real” ones aren’t available. ๐Ÿ™‚

    LED. Yes, I should have brought out my flashlight. And used a longer exposure, which would require setting up something sturdier… I thought I wouldn’t likely have more snow this year, but we woke this morning to an inch of snow! The snowflakes weren’t that great though as it was too warm, so I shot other things.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to try figuring out a good setup during the summer so that I’m not trying to do it on the spur of the moment when the snow arrives!

    Ezra Morley

    You’re welcome! Yes, we got some snow yesterday too, but it was also too warm for anything “good”. Good thing, because I didn’t have all my equipment together anyway! ๐Ÿ™‚

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