Montaigne: "Read more about his technique in our Q&A"Where IS the Q&A?
The Q&A is found through the image gallery - different questions are asked underneath most images. It also continues in the comments with some extra details given as responses below. :)
Chrisd999: @ donkom; Great stuff! I've listened to you discuss your snowflakes images (as well as contribute insights on other aspects of photography) many times on TWIP, and it's nice to finally see your work, which is very nice indeed.
One thing though - as someone who lives not too far from you, I hope it stays too warm and dry for you to capture many snow flakes this winter ;)
Thanks Chrisd999, glad you like my work! I hope for warm, dry days myself... but that doesn't stop my from making the best of bad weather. :) A weather system has been threatening the area all day but hasn't hit us yet - thankfully it doesn't look like it'll hit the GTA!
And I don't mind that! I still have literally hundreds of snowflakes will waiting for their time in Photoshop, including some real stunners that will be posted online soon.
Ben O Connor: Amazing, details are amazing, magnification is amazing; just wondering, how can you resist the coldness and work flawless in such conditions.
Ben, it's difficult knowing that the warmth and comfort of home is two feet away - but I'm willing to suffer for my art! :)
AbrasiveReducer: Lovely. There is more specific how-to information in the first 3 paragraphs than in many long articles. And it's not obvious stuff, either. Who would have known not to use LEDs?
Mikiev, I use the CP-E4 external battery pack. It doesn't have anything to do with the amount of power - the MR-14EX (original version) never had this issue. In the revised model, they added overheating protection but didn't base their protection on actual temperatures. When shooting in a below-freezing environment, overheating isn't a big consern (it never was in the past).
Canon calculates it's overheating limiter based on either number of exposures or cumulative flash power, not actual temperature of the flash unit. Simply disconnecting the main power source by opening the battery cover resets this, and the flash continues like nothing ever happened. I wouldn't advise this strategy at more comfortable ambient temperatures, but when shooting snowflakes it works like a charm. :)
Cool setup, James! It varies greatly from the sans-tripod setup I use, but it gets decent results! Please keep me in the loop when you take more images! Is the spoon used to pickup snow that has already fallen for use in your images?
James A Rinner: My wife is getting me this book for my birthday! I just started photographing snowflakes last year and I am looking forward to reading about his process.
Thanks James! I'm certain you'll find the book useful (not just for snowflakes, but many of the techniques translate to all areas of macro photography). Best of luck with your snowflake shots during the rest of this winter... I know I grabbed some beauties from a weather system that passed through last night!
crashpc: Awesome. I tried this first time today, and I feel "lost". It requires really strong macro abilities of ones gear. First lesson for fools as I am: Get a tripod, get dark bacground. Get fresh snow. I go for lesson two tomorrow. :-)
You're right, I don't use a tripod for these images, but it's not as challenging as it might seem. I need to rotate the camera around the subject to find the correct lighting angle with the ring flash, and this would be a very tricky maneuver if a tripod was in use. You've got to work quickly, as a snowflake will begin melting or sublimating even before it hits the ground - the best results are always achieved by the fastest methods.
I hold the edge of the ring flash with my left hand, and rest that same hand on the surface where the snowflake is positioned. This gives a fair amount of stability, and adjusting my grasp on the flash I can shift the camera forward or back through the focus area I need.
Slight deviations in position can be corrected in Photoshop, but this introduces minute perspective changes that are very time consuming to correct in post-processing.
Indeed - it is a LOT of work - about four hours per image!
Thanks for the positive comments! I assume some LED tech can work well (like the ones being built into the "Vela One" LED flash), but the kind found in inexpensive LED ring flashes have a duration far too long to keep things crisp.
Oddly enough, I'm also having difficulties with Canon's new MR-14EX II, not because of the flash duration but because it shuts off after a predetermined number of exposures to prevent overheating. I can get one snowflake photographed, then I have to open the battery cover to reset the internal overheating counter. That's a work-around you won't find in the instruction manual either. :)
Thanks Blaise06a and amipal!
The answer to the question is quite simple - the photograph was taken at around -10C outside :) The ringlite that I use produces very little heat, so I freeze and the snowflake stays frozen!
Thanks very much for the comments! This is part of a whole series of snowflake images I've been working on. For those curious, you can see more at http://www.skycrystals.ca/ - Thrilled to have won this challenge!