photographing snowflakesNature Photography Science and Art 

Photographing Snowflakes: Sky Crystals

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Depth of field at this scale is a fraction of a millimeter, so only a tiny slice of a snowflake is ever in focus in a single image. This means that multiple shots are required, with roughly 40 being combined in the average snowflake to achieve sharp details across the entire crystal. Since time is short, all of these images are taken handheld and put together over a five-hour editing process.

photographing snowflakes
You cannot get the entire snowflake in focus in just one frame when photographing it at an angle.

Since my lens records the magnification factor of the image, and I know the value of my sensor size and pixel count, I can work a bit of algebra to measure each snowflake very accurately. This leads to a print titled “The Snowflake” which contains over 400 crystals all placed in relative size to one another. It is the first time anything of this scale has been done, and it took 2,500 hours across five years to accomplish.

photographing snowflakes

Next time it snows, think back to this article. The world will instantly become a little more beautiful.

photographing snowflakes

About the Author

Don Komarechka is a nature, macro, and landscape photographer located in Barrie, Ontario, Canada. From auroras to pollen, insects to infrared, much of Don’s photographic adventures reveal a deeper understanding of how the universe works. Exploring the world that we cannot see with our own eyes has been a common thread in Don’s career as a professional photographer.

Always science-minded but never formally trained, Don uses photography as a way to explore and understand the world around him. Photographing something unusual or unknown is the perfect excuse to learn something new. Don’s work often pushes up against the technical limitations of modern camera equipment and the physical limitations of light itself.

You can check out Don’s 304-page book on the science and photography of snowflakes and his website.

GotScience.org translates complex research findings into accessible insights on science, nature, and technology. Help keep GotScience free: Donate or visit our gift shop. For more science news subscribe to our weekly digest.

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