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Snow flake photos Any information on micro photos of snow flakes? Answered

 Snow flake Photography
I am looking for an inexpensive method to photograph snow flakes.  Possibly the combination of digicam and microscope could work.  System will need a dark back ground, illumination from above, magnification, and functionality at below freezing temperatures  I have seen some set ups but the parts alone cost in the hundreds.
Any thoughts or experience good or bad would be appreciated.. 



8 years ago

An electric cooler box has a Peltier element in it, basically a large semiconductor with a hot and a cold side.  It will keep the snow ice cold. You might want to divert your exhaled breath through a tube, away from the snow. Use LED illumination.

I think that a quality + 10 lens would make a great macro attachment. But if you want to keep some more distance, a tele lens with a weaker attachment (like a binocular objective lens) would do just fine as well.

Frozen pane of glass + black contact paper stuck to the back + outside freezing temperatures during the daytime + macro lens (search instructables) + running around and catching snowflakes = Cheap
Maybe if I weren't in Central Texas and actually had proof that it worked which doing a little research shows that it might not work without outfitting a macro lens with some bellows and a magnifying glass or microscope?

Looking back on the articles published by the original photographer, who proved that every snowflake was unique, used equipment that doesn't seem all that expensive to acquire.  I can imagine it getting super spendy though.  Photomicrography is my new favorite word.


"Snowflake Bentley" - what a great name!

A quick scan of the first article makes it seem not too hard with a modern macro camera.

Maybe in the new year...

I had to reach way back into my memory to remember that there was a first photographer of snowflakes.  I can't even remember where I heard about him, but I remember his sad little shack and him standing in it with huge mittens and a giant coat.  I was impressed he could work in those clothes and in those conditions with something so delicate as a snowflake.  Really impressive guy if only for his dedicated dexterity.

 I think the guy was snow flake Bently.  He did some remarkable work for the time.  Last winter I  tried a black trash bag stretched over a frozen cookie sheet, using my Nikon 60 mm macro lens.  The lens can do 1:1 . that is life size .but that is pretty small.  i obviously need more magnification.  Bellows are also expensive.  I have an antique microscope and a lens tube to adapt a Celesron telescope to a Nikon lens mount.  If I can figure out how to mate the two I will have it, I think.  At least in Saugatuck Michigan this time of year the temperature is not a problem, 28 degrees today.

Thanks for your input.
Russell the druggist;

Did you check out the Instructable I linked to?  I think you can potentially do it for much cheaper depending on the telephoto lens(es) you might have.  Gauging from the the example photos in the instructable, I think you could potentially do it with a 300mm ($250?) + macro coupler ($8) + macro lens (you already have)?  Not exactly "cheap" if you don't have a powerful telephoto lens but cheaper than some alternatives and potentially useful for more than just snowflakes.

Bellows are definitely expensive, but part of me thinks there has to be a way of making them DIY if Bentley could.  Not downplaying what he did, but just saying that if someone could, then it's possible for someone else to such as with a piece of black vinyl back with black felt, cut into a cone shape, pinched with bulldog clips, and cinched to the microscope/telescope and the lens of the camera?  A total nightmare to position, but maybe possible?

I think a cookie sheet with a trash bag would create a lot of interference - at least from slight ripples in the bag.  I think a piece of glass with black contact paper might give a little bit of depth to maybe better see the snowflake?  Or at least that was my thought.  You could also try using a block of dry ice positioned underneath the "specimen" tray to help keep it cold while focusing and all that.


 I have read about snow flake Bently. Large format  work done in a down east barn.  Fabulous work for the equipment and time.  There just has to be an easier way.  I have seen the rigs using objective lenses and lens tubes from Edmund Scientific.  Big bucks though.

Thanks Russ


Two Egyptian dudes  once taught me a bit about the concept of
"Order out of chaos" A third Egyptian dude, (the Pharoah) showed
me how the principle works. Pharoah showed me how to use a
computer to make "SnowFakes" 
Pharoah wants everyone to know that he really enjoys computers too.
Sometimes he can be heard joyfully exclaiming: "Me and my computer!"