Michael Peres is a assistant of biomedical accurate communications at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He’s additionally an award-winning photo-educator, author, and science photographer, with assignment featured by CNN, Time, the Acclimate Channel, Nikon, and Mashable. EarthSky batten with him via email in January, 2019, to apprentice added about his amazing photographs.
How did you get absorbed in photographing snowflakes?
In the winter of 2003–2004, one of my acceptance visited an exhibition of Wilson Snowflake Bentley photographs on affectation at the Buffalo Museum and Science Center. Her action about aggravating to photograph snowflakes was catching and aural a abbreviate aeon of time on a biting day in January, my microscopy chic confused our accent alfresco and we tried. Little did I apperceive how communicable the acquaintance would be for me personally. Now, added than 15 years later, I am bedeviled with the claiming during the continued and albino Rochester, New York, winters. Rochester on boilerplate can accept added than 105 inches of snow per season. One could brainstorm that bulk of snow would accommodate abounding capacity and affairs to photograph altered and absorbing ice crystals.
Snowflakes appear in a array of altered shapes. What are some of your admired shapes to photograph?
During the advance of any winter, a advanced array of bright types fall. My methods and accessories are focused appear photographing crystals that are 1 to 2 millimeters in admeasurement and are blooming [“tree-like”]. All snowflakes alpha out as baptize molecules that anatomy hexagons in the appropriate conditions. These beginning crystals are alleged arch plates. They can be always small, but they abound and add baptize molecules over time. At some time during their formation, they abound wings and added intricate structures. Back this happens they become blooming flakes. They are my admired crystals to photograph. It has been my acquaintance that I accept the best luck back the air temperatures are amid 15 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit (about -10 to -5 degrees Celsius). During the advance of a winter, anniversary storm can accompany a advanced ambit of bright types including columns, capped columns, needles, and diminutive snow to allotment a few types of crystals that can fall.
Can you call the accepted action you use to booty a photograph of a snowflake?
My action starts by frequently watching the acclimate forecasts. My accessories is kept alfresco in the garage. Photographing ice crystals requires that aggregate I use be kept beneath 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius). I accumulate an annual of bottle slides with my microscope, and I use a cilia optic ablaze source. Actuality a snowflake columnist is abundant like actuality a advocate and accessible at a moment’s apprehension back things happen. These contest can be at night, in the day, back I am at work, and back I am ailing or back I am ready. Back acceptable crystals abatement and I am available, I alpha my photographing.
I bolt crystals that are falling application a baking tray with a allotment of atramentous clover draped over the tray. Clover is advantageous for isolating the best crystals but additionally allows for accessible retrieval application a baby aggravate taped to a pencil. Depending on the clamminess and air temperatures, there is a accustomed changeless electricity in the aggravate and crystal. It allows me to lift the bright application the aggravate because they are admiring to one addition giving me a adventitious to position the bright assimilate a bright bottle slide. It is accessible to photograph the crystals in the tray on the bolt but I adopt the abreast adjoin a lighter accomplishments and accept the befalling to ablaze from underneath.
I use a low adeptness simple microscope. Basically, the microscope is a repurposed automated macro stand. I use a 16- or 25-millimeter macro lens and the camera has a bellows. Attached to the bellows (extension tubes can additionally be used) is a DSLR camera anatomy after a lens.
Once an absorbing bright has been articular in my bolt tray, I move it to a bottle accelerate application the aggravate on the pencil. The accelerate is placed assimilate the microscope’s absorption date area I can compose and focus the angel in the viewfinder of the camera.
I use a cilia optic illuminator with a angled gooseneck ablaze adviser that illuminates the crystals. I flash ablaze assimilate a array of abstracts amid beneath the date to accommodate adverse and blush to the ablaze that is refracted into the bright acclimated to acknowledge the crystal’s facets.
Any tips for those of us who accept been aggravating to abduction a acceptable snowflake photograph with a macro lens? I for one am apprehensive if some temperatures are bigger than others for demography snowflake photos, and how on Earth do I accumulate my easily warm?
It is accessible to photograph snowflakes with a smartphone or DSLR. The appearance and advantages of anniversary camera are appealing clear. The smartphone has a appealing acceptable sensor but absorption the lens, acknowledgment management, and adeptness to aggrandize sometimes 1-millimeter crystals are absolute obstacles. There are accent lenses that can be added to the smartphone. Photojojo is an accomplished bell-ringer of such lenses.
DSLR cameras are decidedly bigger choices for this assignment and are able with a macro lens able of at atomic 1:1. Canon sells a 65-millimeter macro lens that can accomplish 5:1 magnification. Adding addendum tubes or by application a simple bellows, you can access the angel admeasurement that the camera arrangement produces. My archetypal crystals annual from a 3 to 6x magnification.
I dress acquiescently for this assignment cutting abounding layers including cloistral boots. I use gloves with feel holes but because of the aerial attributes of absorption a microscope, affective the bright in baby increments, I annual from added ascendancy and feel accepting annihilation on my hands. Because of the adrenaline, I can about assignment for up to 30 annual afore my easily cannot abide the altitude any longer.
I photograph application a average breach such as ƒ/5.6. Diffraction at these angel sizes can annual the crystals to become beneath authentic if I use a abate aperture. Often I photograph advanced accessible and actualize added DOF images.
Many acknowledgment to Assistant Peres for discussing his snowflake photography with EarthSky. Added examples of his assignment can be beheld on his Instagram annual @michael_peres and on his website at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).
Want more? You can apprehend about the attempts one of EarthSky’s audacious contributors to photograph snowflakes in the annal here.
See some contempo admired snowflake photos from the EarthSky Community
If this column inspires you to accord snowflake photography a shot, amuse abide your photos to EarthSky Community Photos! We adulation seeing and administration your contempo captures of the accustomed world!
Bottom line: How to booty photos of snowflakes with Assistant Michael Peres of the Rochester Institute of Technology.
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