Archivi categoria: winter

A DIY Camera Rig for Snowflake Photos

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Looking for a great winter photography project? How about snowflakes? If you live in the Northern tier of states I promise you will have plenty of subjects to shoot.

My snowflake photography setup is based on a system initially designed by Professor Ken Libberecht, a great snowflake photographer — from California, of all places.

Snow Crystals, Brighton, MI. Photographed through a homemade microscope and lit with fiber optics this image was quite a project.
Snow Crystals, Brighton, MI. Photographed through a homemade microscope and lit with fiber optics this image was quite a project.

The setup is basically a homemade microscope with a camera mount at one end. I use three different microscope objectives depending on the size of the crystals: a 2X, 4X, and a 10X. The 10X is used only rarely for the crazy small crystals.

This whole rig is mounted to a heavy post with a stage to hold the microscope slides on which I capture the snow crystals. This heavy post is necessary not only to stabilize the whole setup, but more importantly, so that I can ensure that the stage holding the snow crystal and the lens are absolutely parallel to each other.

This is very important because, at the magnifications involved with this type of photography, the depth of field (the zone of sharpness in a photograph) is very narrow, about the thickness of a piece of paper. Therefore, if things are not lined up just right, all of the arms of the crystal will not be sharp.

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While technically speaking, everything about this type of photography is a huge challenge, I have found the lighting to be one of the toughest hurdles. Because I am trying to photograph an exceedingly tiny, virtually clear sliver of ice, the lighting is critical. It must not only give the image some depth but also highlight the different facets of the individual crystals.

In addition, the lighting cannot give off any heat or it would instantly melt my chosen subject, an obvious problem.

After many failed ideas, I came across a lighting system that uses fiber optic light pipes to focus an intense beam of light. These lights transmit very little heat and have the added benefit of being flexible as well.

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I use two of these fiber optic lights (four arms). One set shines up from below through a diffuser and then through two colored filters. These colored filters become the background of the final image as well as putting some colored highlights in the final image. The second set of light pipes shine down from above and have colored filters as well as tissue paper diffusers on each of the light heads. These two lights are individually fine tuned to highlight each snow crystal’s particular facets and help give the image some added depth.

One of the things I love about what I do is that I never know where things will lead. During the course of this project I built a microscope, learned about optics, light diffraction, and fiber optics, not to mention learning more than any normal person should know about snow crystals and how and why they form.

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All of this happened because one day I woke up and decided I wanted to make a pretty picture of a snowflake.


About the author: Steve Gettle is a nature photographer based in Brighton, Michigan. He has won multiple awards in the BBC’s prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. You can find more of his work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Russian Photographer Captures These Incredible Snowflakes with a Compact Camera

Photo by Alexey Kljatov

Proving once again that talent and creativity trump gear

Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov (aka ChaoticMind75) has captivated the internet with his incredible macro work of snowflakes, which are shot in a surprisingly low-tech way.

His photos, which you can see on his Flickr account, are astonishing closeups of snowflakes, each of which are rendered beautifully and clearly in almost unreal detail.

But what makes his work so much more impressive is how basic the hardware is that he uses to do it, which he explains in a blog post. His primary camera is a Canon A650, a 12-megapixel camera from 2007. With the camera at its maximum zoom, he then shoots through a reversed Soviet Helios 44M-5 lens, functioning as a macro extension. The front of the whole setup then has series of extension tubes to maintain the perfect distance from the snowflakes, which he shoots on glass.

But that only accounts for magnification — what about the amazing clarity of the photos? He also talks about that in another blogpost — and he uses Photoshop, Noiseware denoising plugin, and the Hugin panorama stitcher. Kljatov takes multiple RAW photos of the snowflakes at base ISO, which he averages to cancel the noise, runs through the denoising plugin, and then aggresively sharpens. All of which contributes to a series of images that are incredible in their clarity.

So with some hard work, some basic hardware, and an understanding of editing tools, Kljatov has managed to turn a six year old point-and-shoot camera into a device for astonishing macro work.

[via Twisted Sifter, Imaging Resource]

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Photo by: Alexey Kljatov

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Photos of Alaskan Hunting Cabins Taken in Mid-Summer and Mid-Winter

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When Seattle-based photographer Eirik Johnson went to photograph the hunting cabins of the Iñupiat people of Barrow, Alaska, he found something more than he expected. The resulting summer and winter combination series, dubbed Barrow Cabins, turned into “a meditation on the passage of time.”

Located in the northernmost region of the United States along the Chukchi Sea, these hunting cabins experience the extreme shifts that only the Arctic climate can offer. Built out of any materials the people can find — from plywood to scraps from the decommissioned Navy Base nearby — they have to endure extreme temperature changes the likes of which most of us can’t fathom ensconced in more temperate climates.

Johnson photographed the cabins first in summer and then in the dead of winter. In some cases, the little huts didn’t make it, leaving only remnants to hint that this is, in fact, the same photo taken from the same vantage point.

For the cabins that did make it, the bright, colorful and warm photos taken in mid-summer are held in sharp contrast by the stark white, snow-covered versions of mid-winter:

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To see more of Johnson’s photography, including the rest of the Barrow Cabins series, head over to his website by clicking here.

(via Feature Shoot)


Image credits: Photographs by Eirik Johnson and used with permission.