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Snowflake Photography: Is It Possible On A Phone?

snow flake

It’s November, and those of you in the Midwest and Northeast know what that means. That’s right, it’s time to dust off your winter jackets, dig out those fingerless gloves, and prepare to start snapping some of the beautiful – but freezing – weather that’s coming your way!

For social media lovers, there’s no better season to test out your skills and try some new things. We’ve seen entire photo books dedicated to the winter weather, whether it’s a square photo book full of snowflakes or a sprawling photo book exploring the width and breadth of the snowy US. 

It’s all about challenging yourself and doing something that you’ve never done before – that’s what keeps the passion of a photographer alive! 

With this in mind, if you’re looking for a specific challenge in 2023, then that first photo book idea could be a good one. Snowflake photography isn’t easy, especially on a smartphone. For a lot of people, there’s a thrill in the chase, but for others, the whole thing is a grinding experience that truly tests your patience. 

But if patience isn’t your strong suit, then photography probably isn’t either. Every photographer has to practice patience, and a good snowflake picture is the perfect reward for doing so. So without further ado, let’s look into snowflake photography and how you can achieve it on your smartphone.

First Thing’s First, Know Your Weather!

Before you do anything, it’s important to know your weather. Now, we’re not treating you like an idiot, here. Anyone can look out the window, see that it’s snowing, and then rush outside to start snapping photographs. But this is about finding the right kind of snow. 

The rule of thumb in photography is that you’re waiting for cold air and high humidity. When this happens, the snowflakes falling will do so in a hexagonal prism shape – the beautiful snowflake shape that we all recognise. The best way to do this is to download the best and most reliable weather apps, or simply go outside and catch a few on your sleeve. 

Next, Find Your Background

You’re also going to need a good background. Remember what snowflakes are: tiny pieces of ice that are falling from either a white or a black sky. You don’t need us to tell you that they blend in pretty easily! For this reason, you should bring a contrasting background with you – something dark like black leather gloves or a dark garment. If you do this, you can let them land on it and be able to see them without squinting!

Pre-Fix Your Settings

Smartphones are pretty “smart” in 2023. If you walk outside, open your camera app and start snapping, then the automatic settings should do the job. But when it comes to snowflake photography, there are certain settings you should manually put in place before you get out there. 

Make sure you adjust the exposure and brightness. If you own an iOS device, the Camera+ app is one of the best photography apps of 2023 for setting your focus and exposure points, and it gives you an exposure compensation dial just beside the shutter button. For Android users, the sister app Camera Plus is also a great option.

Upgrade Your Smartphone

Next, you’ll want to physically upgrade your smartphone. Snowflakes are tiny – there aren’t cities of people living on them like The Grinch told us in 2000. This means that you’ll need to be adept at macro photography and attain all the right tools to help you. These days, you can get a pretty good, inexpensive, macro lens that can fit onto your mobile device. With this, you can boost the magnification and explore every detail of the snowflake in question.

Maximize The Sharpness

We mentioned before that you should find a contrasting background for your snowflakes, with leather gloves or dark garments as examples. While these will be successful, because the surface is uneven, it’s not always easy to capture a sharp image. For this, you should look for a frozen pond or puddle, or take a cold piece of glass along with you on your photography venture. Then you can use two hands to steady the phone, zoom in as close as possible, and you’ll be left with a far sharper image.

Snap Like You’ve Never Snapped Before

The other thing you will have to do is shoot like you’ve never shot before. Snow is a nuisance to photograph for two reasons. One, it’s tiny. Two, it melts quickly. This gives you only a short window to capture what is already a difficult subject! 

The best way to counteract this? Increase your shutter speed and shoot photographs in bulk. It might feel a little like you’re just snapping and hoping, but that’s exactly what you are doing. If you want to capture that one special image, then you’re going to have to sift through a few dozen and find it. There’s the patience thing we talked about! 

Prepare For The Chill

Lastly, if you’re hoping to upload some snowflake pictures to our photo book maker, and ensure that all of them are good, then you’re going to have to prepare for the chill. Capturing images that you love doesn’t often happen in one evening. It takes time and persistence, and this couldn’t be more true for snowflake photography.

If the temperature is a bit off, then you’ll have to try again. If your settings aren’t quite right, then you’ll have to go out and give it another go when the right conditions return. It can be a cold game at first, but if you keep at it, then you’re sure to reap the benefits – and become a better photographer in the process!


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