Art of the Storm – by Guy Rhodes

snow macro

Snowflakes lit through color gels accumulate on a sheet of glass during an experimental shoot in East Chicago, Ind., early Friday, February 22, 2013.

East Chicago based photographer, lighting designer, and filmmaker Guy Rhodes experimented with macro photography and captured some interesting photos of snowflakes.

Despite measly 5″ snow accumulation forecasts disappointing the snow lover in me, Chicago is expecting its largest snowfall of the season so far today. In the past weeks, unseasonably devoid of snowfall, I’d caught wind of a few great examples of snowflake photography online. Today’s storm brought a great opportunity to try my hand at lighting and photographing these microscopic gems first hand.

I’ve never done any sort of macro photography at all, nor do I own the proper gear to do it, so focusing in on something as small as a grain of sand with only my standard lenses was my first challenge. On one of the snowflake photo websites I visited, someone mentioned shooting though a reversed lens. I tried several combinations of lenses, forwards and backwards, while shooting flecks of pepper on my desk.

Continue reading and see more photos on Guy’s blog.

snow macro

After much trial and error with numerous lenses and configurations, I found that shooting through a backwards Canon 28mm-70mm f2.8 zoom lens with my Canon 100mm-400mm f4.5-f5.6 zoom lens gave me a passable macro setup. I used a glass picture frame as my shooting platform for the snowflakes, held with 2 c-stands. A third c-stand was used to stabilize my body and the camera. Focusing on the snowflakes was done by sliding the camera and my arms down the c-stand (while intently controlling my breathing) until the snowflakes and ice crystals were sharp, all while holding the backwards lens against the front element of the lens attached to my camera.

snow macro

I was really expecting the snowflakes to look like the stereotypical kinds you cut out of paper in elementary school, but alas, today’s storm produced flakes that looked more like little cylinders. These snowflakes are of the “needle” variety, and only occur when the air temperature is around 23 degrees Fahrenheit (which it was exactly at the time I shot this).

snow macro

A blue gel on my Alien Bees B1600 strobe made these lackluster snowflakes start to blossom, and letting them accumulate on the glass (playing with my very limited depth of field as they piled up) produced some interesting effects as well.

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