Tech Session – Imaging Snowflakes

Snowflakes 101 – A Beginner’s Guides to Capturing Snowflakes

Using a 50mm macro lens

This Tech Session was presented on January 21, 2021 by Kersti Meema. The following is a summary of what was presented and is intended to get you started on photographing snowflakes. 

What you need:

  • Camera with macro lens (or lens with macro capability)
  • Remote trigger
  • Tripod
  • Glass plate (the glass from an old picture frame works well – cover edges in duct tape)
  • Falling snow! Temperatures of -8 oC to -5oC work well.
  • Extension tubes
  • Sharpening software – I used Topaz Sharpening AI

How to:

  • Set glass plate outside to cool down
  • Find a sheltered spot – porch, garage with door open – with enough ambient light
  • Set up glass plate between two supports – level as best you can
  • Consider the background – black fabric more than 50 cm from glass
  • Set up camera (with remote trigger and extension tubes if you have them) on tripod over the glass plate
  • Capture snowflakes on glass plate and place on support
  • Focus and shoot


  • Settings for image without extension tubes (suggested just to get you started)
    • F-stop f/4
    • Exposure time 1/10 sec
    • ISO 100
    • Focal length 50 mm – macro lens
  • Without extension tubes you will need to crop heavily around an individual snowflake
  • Sharpen with software
  • Using mirror lockup will help reduce shake on these very magnified images
  • When using extension tubes, try focus stacking since your set-up is likely not to be 100% perfectly level. This can be done with as few as 3 images. Then sharpen the final image.


Click on:  Snowflakes 101 to see the PowerPoint Presentation with all the images. 

Using Extension tubes and 3 stacked images   Using extension tubes and 3 stacked images