Snowflakes!

Home Forums Photography Q&A Snowflakes!

This topic contains 15 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  James Staddon 3 years, 8 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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  • #15169

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    We are finally getting some “real” snow, that looks good up close! πŸ™‚

    Here are a couple of shots from the latest snow “storm”.

    Here’s a crop from the center of the snowflake above:

    Attachments:
    #15188

    David Frazer
    Participant

    Inspiring!
    I really like the darker backgrounds – the swimming-pool colour of some of them make the snow look a bit too wet. πŸ™‚
    I should get out there and try a few – and stop telling myself that I have another 3-4 months to do so!

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by  David Frazer.
    #15199

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Unbelievable! They are like soooo perfect! That last one especially.

    And very much in-focus. Do you think they could use a bit of post processing sharpness though?

    How do you get the blue background?

    #15204

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Inspiring!

    @dfrazer Good! I’m glad you’re inspired! I’d love to see what you get, when you get the chance!

    I really like the darker backgrounds – the swimming-pool colour of some of them make the snow look a bit too wet. πŸ™‚

    That’s funny! I was kinda partial to the lighter backgrounds. I think the one with the dark background is the only one that looks like that. I’m not even sure what I did to make it darker like that. πŸ™‚

    I should get out there and try a few – and stop telling myself that I have another 3-4 months to do so!

    Good idea! I’m out there every chance I get, because the weather conditions aren’t always conducive to “pretty” snowflakes. And with the weather as warm as it is this year, I’ve only had one day that really made good snowflakes so far this winter.

    Unbelievable! They are like soooo perfect! That last one especially.

    And very much in-focus. Do you think they could use a bit of post processing sharpness though?

    How do you get the blue background?

    Thanks @jamesstaddon! I think sharpening is my biggest hurdle in the post-processing stage of snowflake photography. I’m not extremely happy with Adobe Lightroom’s sharpening capabilities. Of course we don’t look at most images up close like we do for snowflakes, so it makes a difference. Also, the logistics of shooting at 1:1 + magnification make it a lot harder. It’s harder to get the subject in focus, for one thing. Also, when stacking lenses, it tends to bring out the chromatic aberrations/fringing more, which in turn makes it harder to get nice sharp, “clean” results.

    That said, these are greatly resized for web, which might have made them a little soft. I did apply some post-resize sharpening, but it may not have been enough. If you click on the photo attachment at the bottom of the post, then right-click on it and click “View Image” it will open it at it’s full resolution. If you’re interested in pixel peeping at the originals, I’ve posted quite a few of my snowflake images on Google+.

    #15205

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Oh, and the blue background was simple. I just took a blue cooler lid, and set it about a foot and a half away underneath the pane of glass that I was photographing on. Very professional… πŸ™‚

    #15207

    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Gorgeous snowflakes! It is amazing to see God’s hand in His creation. Each snowflake was intricately designed by the awesome Creator to reflect His creativity. It’s no wonder two snowflakes are never alike. How were you able to magnify the snow crystals? Did you use macro focus or a microscope? Living in a country where the winters are mild and wet, I appreciate the times I got to see snow in the past. The closest thing to snow we get over here in ‘down under’ is hailstones or frost.

    #15215

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    Looking at those snowflakes up close makes me think of man-made, fancy patterns I use sometimes in design work, or elegant, Baroque-era styles used in European architecture . . . I wonder where man got his taste for beautiful, intricately designed things. πŸ™‚ God is just so amazing!

    #15219

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    @joshua_ong wrote:

    How were you able to magnify the snow crystals? Did you use macro focus or a microscope? Living in a country where the winters are mild and wet, I appreciate the times I got to see snow in the past. The closest thing to snow we get over here in β€˜down under’ is hailstones or frost.

    I use a combination of extension tubes, lens stacking, and reversed lens techniques. (Actually, I’m using different lenses now, but the principle is the same.)

    I’ve written on this forum about snowflakes last year: https://www.lenspiration.com/forums/topic/snowflakes/ and here: https://www.lenspiration.com/forums/topic/let-it-snow/

    Attachments:
    #15584

    Joshua Ong
    Participant

    Looks like a pretty impressive camera setup! Being unfamiliar with SLRs, I did not know you could stack so many lenses and extension tubes on your camera. I guess the more tubes and lenses you attach to your camera, the greater magnification you can obtain. What is the distance between your outermost lens and the snowflake?

    #15595

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Being unfamiliar with SLRs, I did not know you could stack so many lenses and extension tubes on your camera

    πŸ™‚ Well, most people never do, and even when they do, they don’t usually stack and reverse so many at once! I go to such extremes to get as much magnification as necessary to fill the frame with the snowflakes. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s too much magnification, if I get a big enough snowflake, it won’t even fit in the frame! Here’s one that just barely fit… (This photo wasn’t cropped at all.)

    And here’s one that wouldn’t fit no matter how I tried. If they would last long enough, I could probably remove some extension tubes to make it fit, but snowflakes lose their shape very quickly. In just a couple of minutes, they’re gone.

    I guess the more tubes and lenses you attach to your camera, the greater magnification you can obtain.

    True, to a point. You have to be selective in which lenses you stack. I am currently using a 135mm f/2.8 lens (on extension tubes), and then reversing a 28mm f/2.8 lens in front of it. The 135mm with extension tubes gives me quite a bit of magnification by itself, but not enough. So I reverse a relatively wide-angle lens (28mm) in front of it, which greatly increases my magnification. The principle for reversing is simple: the wider the lens being reversed, the more magnification you will achieve. So a reversed 28mm lens will give you more magnification than a reversed 50mm lens. If you reverse a 100mm lens, you probably won’t even gain any magnification!

    What is the distance between your outermost lens and the snowflake?

    With my current setup, the distance from the end of the lens to the snowflake is approximately 3.5 cm, or 1.25 inches.

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    #15671

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    EJM_8699-r.jpg is one impressive snowflake picture, @buddingphotographer! Snowflakes are so tiny that I hadn’t ever thought about what they might look composed to include only parts of the snowflake. And in the center, it’s like even more tiny snowflakes embedded smaller and smaller! Simply an incredible creation! That shot would make the perfect desktop background.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by  James Staddon.
    #15677

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Thanks, @jamesstaddon! I agree that it would make a good desktop background, and I intend to do that once I get around to properly processing it. For some reason, I really like the composition of that one, like you said, they’re already so small that it’s kinda funny to think of good “composition” for photos of them.

    #15800

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    If anyone is interested in advanced snowflake post-processing, here’s a little comparison to feast your eyes on.

    The image on the right is a .jpg file from my Pentax K-5 IIs with additional sharpening in GIMP.
    The image on the left is a stack of 9 .jpg files stacked and averaged with Registax, and then sharpened with the same method in GIMP.

    (You might have to see it in full size to spot the difference.)

    Compare Images

    Someday I might write up a tutorial on how I post-process my snowflake images if anyone is interested…

    Attachments:
    #15879

    James Staddon
    Keymaster

    So are you focus stacking here?

    It’s sort of odd . . . when I click on the picture to view the full size version, it takes me to a Yahoo login page.

    But I would like to see the full size version. It appears to me that image on the left has less grain, smoother background.

    And yes, @buddingphotographer! I would love to see a little tutorial about it! You write it, and I’ll post or link to it from my blog if you’d like!

    #15880

    Ezra Morley
    Moderator

    Sorry about that, I wonder if the viewing permissions were set wrong or something… I think it’s fixed now. If you still can’t see it, try this direct link: https://farm2.staticflickr.com/1687/24943035735_5c26c1d797_o.png

    No, the stacking is merely multiple identical shots aligned and stacked on top of each other, then averaged to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). It’s not necessarily necessary for normal use, it was an experiment just to see how much of a difference it would actually make. Here’s an article on Cambridge in Colour about the subject: http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-averaging-noise.htm

    I’ll try to come up with a tutorial sometime in the not-too-distant future! πŸ™‚

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