A snowflake is reflected on a black background.

Snowflake Macro Photography: Tips for Pictures of Snowflakes

This guide to snowflake macro photography will help you take mesmerizing snowflake images, a magical process that requires patience and skill.

This guide to snowflake macro photography will help you take mesmerizing snowflake images.

Photographing tiny snowflakes is a magical process that requires patience and skill.

Read on to learn the best camera techniques to capture the delicate beauty of snowflakes.

Snowflake Macro Photography Tips

  • Use a macro lens to capture intricate details.
  • Stabilize your camera with a tripod to minimize shake.
  • Opt for diffused lighting to bring out snowflake details softly.
  • A dark background can help the snowflake stand out with more contrast.
  • A shallow depth of field will isolate and highlight individual snowflakes.
  • Consider focus stacking to achieve maximum clarity across the snowflake.
  • Work quickly since snowflakes can change or melt rapidly.
  • Use continuous shooting mode to get multiple shots in a short span.
  • Always protect your equipment from moisture and condensation.
  • Enhance your images with post-processing to boost contrast and sharpness.
  • Be mindful of your breath; you don’t want to melt your subject accidentally.
  • A gentle brush can help adjust the snowflake or clear the surrounding area.

How Do You Take Macro Pictures of Snowflakes?

Each snowflake is unique, consisting of tiny ice crystal fractal patterns.

This magic of nature is so tiny it is rarely witnessed but can be magnified to make stunning photos.

Photographing fragile snowflakes is a challenge but a rewarding adventure worth embarking on.

Let’s learn how to freeze a snowflake’s delicate beauty into a fine art picture whether you’re photographing in the snow or in the warmth of your home studio.

1. Best Camera settings for Snowflake Photography

A close up of a snowflake with blurred background.

Image: Aaron Burden

The best camera setting will achieve an even exposure, avoiding harsh shading.

A well-exposed photo will capture all the tiny details of the snowflake’s pattern.

An even exposure can be achieved using a combination of ISO, shutter speed and aperture.

Avoid noise and grain using a low ISO 100-200 for a clearer image.

Set the camera for a longer exposure to allow adequate light.

A longer shutter speed won’t result in blurring because the snowflake will not move.

A wide aperture will allow more for each exposure but result in a shallow depth of field.

Use f-stop 2 to isolate and draw attention to a small section of the snowflake’s pattern.

Use f-stop 5.6 to f-stop 11 to bring more of the snowflake into focus.

White balance should be around 6500 – 8000k to temper the snowflake’s blue tones.

When shooting snowflakes, set the camera to RAW to preserve details for post-editing.

2. Best Macro Lens for Snowflake Photography

A glass ball sitting on top of some snow.

Image: Aaron Burden

The finer details of a snowflake are invisible to the naked eye.

Powerful magnification is needed to zoom in and capture the snowflake’s minuscule details.

The best way to magnify them is to use a macro lens; magnification should be greater than 1:1.

Any camera will do the job, but having the right macro lenses is crucial to taking a superior snowflake photo.

A macro lens with a magnification of 2:1 or greater is preferable.

Not all macro lenses are over 2:1, so if buying a macro camera lens, ensure its magnification is over 2:1.

3. Extra Equipment for Photographing Snowflakes

Close up Filters 

You can use close-up filters to magnify when photographing snowflakes.

However, they can result in distortion, so don’t use them if you want an accurate replication.

Extension Tubes

An extension tube is an empty tube that sits between the camera and the lens.

Extension tubes are not fancy or complex, so they are easy to use when shooting macro photography.

Extension tubes increase the magnification by moving it further away from the camera.


Use a tripod to stabilize the camera for long exposures and eliminate the chance of any wobble.

If you plan to use stack processing post-production use a tripod to shoot.


Lighting needs to be controlled when you photograph snowflakes.

If it is too harsh, it will create dark shadows and obscure details.

Soft, diffusing light is The best light to photograph snowflakes.

The more you magnify the snowflake, the darker you will notice the exposure becomes.

A ring flash will distribute shadow-free light evenly across tiny snowflakes.

The ring flash circles the camera’s lens, so light is consistently applied.

A light diffuser can be used to minimize variations of exposure on the snowflake.

If you plan to shoot outdoors choose an overcast day when the light is diffused naturally.

4. How to Set Up

When shooting snowflake photography, use a sheltered area close to the snowfall.

Capturing the snowflakes fresh is essential before they melt into a not-so-photogenic blob.

The location has to be perfectly chill to keep them fresh and pretty for as long as possible.

The photography gear and anything near the snowflake must be cold.

5. How to Capture the Snowflake

A close up of a snowflake on a branch.

Image: Aaron Burden

Snowflakes are delicate subjects susceptible to melting, hardening or shattering.

The best idea is to capture the snowflake on the item you intend to use as a backdrop.

Chill the item first by placing it in the freezer, making sure it remains dry.

Because snowflakes are so tiny, almost anything, a plate or piece of cloth, can be used as a backdrop.

Pick a dark-coloured item to contrast the snowflake and showcase its pure white.

Once you’ve captured a snowflake you might need to reposition it.

For this, you can use a toothpick or sewing needle, and again, make sure it is chilled.

And don’t worry if the first, or even second, snowflake melts; head back out and catch another.

Every snowflake is unique, and each one will make an exquisite, fine detailed model.

When it comes to the crunch, you have to be patient when photographing snowflakes.

6. How to Photograph Snowflakes Falling

Snowflakes fall from the sky, fluttering softly, or they can ruthlessly fall in a blizzard. My advice to you is not to go out in a blizzard.

Avoid shooting snowflakes on the snow. White on white will produce a bland picture and camouflage the snowflake from view.

Find a dark background to contrast the snowflakes, like a navy door or an evergreen tree.

It is very important to take good care to protect your camera gear from snowfall.

Snowflakes have a cheeky way of meandering through the air, gliding from side to side. They can easily end up on your lens, creating spots.

Protect your lens with a lens hood and save your photos from being ruined with spots. Plus, it will save you the hassle of cleaning snow spots from your lens.

A woman holding a camera in the snow.

Image: Jakob Owens

Take a dry microfibre cloth to remove the tiny snowflakes that fall onto your lens.

Do not change lenses during the shoot. When snow flutters from unexpected directions, it can enter your camera body.

Sunny days create harsh light, casting dark shadows. This will obscure parts of the snowflake’s ice crystal pattern.

Use a ring flash or shoot on an overcast day to achieve an even exposure.

It is important to note that your battery won’t last as long in the cold. Be prepared and take a backup battery.

Rain falls at 15-25 mph; a snowflake ambles its way from the heavens to earth at 1-4 mph.

To freeze a snowflake in-flight, use a fast shutter speed of over 1/250th of a second.

There is a lot of room for creativity and adding your personal touch when you photograph snowflakes.

Try experimenting with different exposures. A long exposure will create snow trails, a fantastic effect for a snowflake image.

Get your snow gear on and head into the snow with your camera ready for action,

All the snowflake photos you take have the potential to enchant their viewers.

How to Take Pictures of Snowflakes with iPhone

The latest iPhones use the ultra-wide camera lens as an amazing macro lens, capable of shooting stunning photos of snowflakes.

The ultra-wide iPhone lens can focus as closely as 2 cm, making it ideal for capturing tiny snowflake details.

The iPhone automatically switches to macro mode when it gets close to a subject.

You can also purchase third-party iPhone macro lenses which you attach to the front of the existing lens.

Shoot in RAW by tapping the RAW icon in the top left of the screen. RAW images will give you more freedom when editing post-production.

One of the challenges of using an iPhone is focusing on the entire snowflake.

This is due to the iPhone lens’s shallow depth of field.

You can use this to your advantage and creatively highlight only a small section of the iced pattern.

When photographing, we can become so engrossed in the scene that we don’t notice we are blocking the light.

Make sure to take a position at an angle that doesn’t cast shadows on the snowflake scene.

One hitch when using an iPhone in snowy locations is that their batteries do not last long in the freezing cold.

One solution is to bring a heating pad to warm the iPhone between shots.

See our other tips for shooting macro photos with an iPhone.

Post-Processing Tips for Snowflake Photos

Some snowflakes are floating in the water.

Image: Marc Newberry

Photoshop post-processing can turn a two-star snowflake image into a five-star work of art.

1. Basic Adjustments

Start with basic adjustments to enhance the snowflake photography.

Alter the contrast using the hue adjustment or brightness/contrast setting.

Use a Sharpen filter to adjust the sharpness and clarity of the photos.

2. Color Corrections

Post-processing color corrections will draw out subtle hues and tonalities.

Correct the image’s colors by adjusting their level or curves.

3. Noise Reduction

Due to lighting challenges, macro photography can be susceptible to noise.

Reduce noise in the snowflake photography by using the Reduce Noise filter.

4. Composition and Cropping

One of the simplest tricks for a good composition is to crop the photo.

Try different crops to focus attention on other areas of the snowflake pattern.

5. Focus Stacking for Sharpness

Use focus stacking to combine multiple shots for a uniformly sharp image.

This is helpful when photographing macro in a shallow depth of field.

6. Editing Select Areas

Try experimenting by making creative adjustments to select areas of the snowflake.

Such as using filters to blur the background area around the snowflake.

5 Tips for Preserving Snowflakes for Prolonged Shooting

Nobody wants their model snowflake to melt away before pressing the shutter release.

Here are some simple tricks to prolong the life of snowflakes for the photo shoot.

This will give you extra time to focus and position the camera perfectly.

  1. Always maintain a chilled workspace. If it’s too cold for you, it’s perfect for the snowflake. Don’t turn the heat on; open your studio windows and doors.
  2. Pre-chill all the equipment by placing it in the freezer before the shoot. This includes equipment that will be close to the snowflake. The heat from an object close to a snowflake can be enough to melt it.
  3. Chill the metal plates or glass microscope slides that will be used to hold the snowflake.
  4. If you are shooting in a humid environment, use a dehumidifier. This will draw excess moisture from the air. Moisture in the air will speed up the melting process.
  5. When shooting snowflakes, your body heat and breath are enough to melt it. Be cautious and direct your breath away from the snowflake.

And congratulations, you now know how to take snowflake photography. You are ready to capture mesmerizing frozen art.

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Shotkit Writer & Photoshop Expert

Judyth is an experienced studio photographer and glass artist. When she isn’t Photoshopping comedians into the bellies of sharks, you can find her cooking delicious treats for her guests.

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