Six Unbelievable Close-Up Snowflakes That Reveal the Magic of Winter

When the first flakes start to fall, we look forward to hitting the slopes, making snow angels and revving the engines of our snowmobiles. Fresh snow gives us the chance to head outside and take in the magic of winter. 

So, the next time you’re out enjoying a snow day, grab your camera and get up-close with what makes Pure Michigan a winter wonderland – snowflakes! Photographer Joshua Nowicki shares his tips for photographing these one-of-a-kind beauties. 

dsc_2412 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

As the snow accumulates over the winter months, it is easy to lose appreciation for the beauty of winter.  As the snow builds layer after layer, I find it therapeutic to take a closer look and enjoy the wonders of a single snowflake.

A little over a year ago, I received gift of a +1, +2, +4 set of close-up macro filters to use on a lens for my camera.  It was snowing that day, and almost immediately, I was outside trying to take photos of snowflakes.  I searched for snowflakes lying on leaves, pine needles, windshields anywhere I could find them isolated or on a dark background.  I was spending a lot of time searching for individual snowflakes and not much time taking photos.  So, I decided that I needed to find a better way to capture my subject.  I tried a variety of different materials to catch snowflakes on, and found that I had the best luck using an old blue stocking cap.  The snowflakes land at angles propped up by the frayed fibers of the stocking cap, and this provides a little separation from the rest of the material.

The macro filters gave me a closer view of the snow than I had ever seen before; but I wanted to get closer.  I was using the macro filters on an 18-55mm lens, and then, I switched to trying them on a 55-200mm lens.  This worked reasonably well, but I felt like I was getting too much distortion in the images that I took.  So, I kept searching for another way.  I could not justify the cost of a macro lens, therefore I kept experimenting.  I finally decided upon using electrical tape to attach one lens backward in front of another lens.  My favorite combination is currently a 55-200mm lens with a 50mm lens.  For lighting the snowflakes, I use an external camera flash and flashlight.  It is not a beautiful set up, but it is an effective one.

The level of magnification that this has allowed me has been astounding.  Details that I never thought I would be able to see in person, I could now photograph.  I have been amazed by the variety of shapes of snowflakes and dazzled by the intricate and delicate detail of each individual snowflake.  As the weather and temperature change, the shapes and sizes of the snowflakes also change.  Two of my favorite snowflake shapes are sectored plates and stellar dendrites.

Every time it snows, I find myself running outside to see what the snowflakes look like. Frequently, I have had to explain to neighbors and people passing by why I am sitting in the snow taking close up photos of my stocking cap.  Many of them chuckled until I showed them the photos I was taking. The next time it snows, before you grab your shovel, take a moment to sit in the snow with a camera or magnifying glass and enjoy one of the true marvels of winter. See their beauty below.

dsc_3080 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

dsc_3063 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

dsc_2820 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

dsc_2270 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

dsc_0291 snowflake photo by Joshua Nowicki

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day? Share your photos enjoying the snow using #PureMichiganSnowDay on Twitter and Instagram or visit michigan.org/snowday.

Joshua_NowickiJoshua Nowicki is a St. Joseph, Michigan based photographer specializing in landscape, nature, architecture, and food photography.  His photos can be viewed online on Facebook or his website

From Our Fans: 15 Favorite Pure Michigan Memories to Kick Off 2015

With the new year officially underway, we asked our fans to take a moment to reflect on their favorite memories from 2014. After a stroll down memory lane, here are 15 unforgettable Pure Michigan moments from days gone by to inspire your travels in 2015. 

Waterfall watching while vacationing in the U.P. from Sherry Stiles

Vacationing in the UP Sherry Stiles

Seeing the Mighty Mac all lit up on a warm August evening from John Stine

Mighty Mac on a Warm August Evening John Stine

 A trip to Arch Rock while visiting Mackinac Island from Wiona Porath

Wiona Porath Arch Rock

A visit to the amazing ice caves off the shores of Leelanau from Janeen M Wardle

Amazing Ice Caves off the shore of Leelanau Janeen M Wardle

Watching the crackling Frankfort fireworks from Jeanine Offer Krupp

Frankfort Fireworks Jeanine Offer Krupp

 Long Lake Michigan beach days from Mark Titus

Mark Titus Beach Days

Summertime trips to the Farmers Market from Leslie Layton Coslet

Leslie Layton Coslet Farmers Market Frankfort

Peaceful moments spent with nature from MavaMarie Vendervennet

Peaceful Moments MavaMarie Vendervennet

Fishing and a fiery sunset over Brevort Lake from Ben Stefanic

Fishing Brevort Lake Ben Stefanic

Walking on frozen water in South Haven from Jennifer Schoenfield Osborn

Walking on Frozen water in South Haven Jennifer Schoenfeld Osborn

Witnessing unforgettable sunsets from Donna Pratt-Owens

Donna Pratt-Owens Frankfort sunset Lake Michigan

Spectacular fall color viewing at the Porcupine Mountains from Patti Potts

Patti Potts Fall Colors Porcupine Mountains

Plenty of Pure Michigan snow days from Ry Meyer

Ry Meyer Snow Days

The Presque Isle scenery from UP Serenity Photography

UP Serenity Photography Presque Isle Park

Wrapping up the year with celebratory fireworks in Ludington from Todd and Brad Reed Photography

NYE Ludington Brad Reed

Where in Pure Michigan will 2015 take you? 

Five Phenomenal Pure Michigan Instagram Photos from December 2014

As holiday lights brightened Michigan cities and brought families together from across the state, our fans took full advantage of the beauty and serenity of another December in Pure Michigan. These five remarkable photos are courtesy of our incredible Instagram community, who continue to share breathtaking photos each and every month.

For more, check out our September, October and November roundups and be sure to follow Pure Michigan on Instagram!

A beautiful shot of the mighty Mackinac Bridge by @MichiganNutPhotography.

MacBridge_MichiganNutPhotography

Parallel pines crossing a snow-covered trail found in Stony Creek Metro Park in Shelby Township by @danfreiphoto.

Trees_DanFreiPhoto

Rochester‘s glowing holiday lights from @desuth.

Rochester Lights_Desuth

The Detroit River and skyline on a calm night by @picturethisbymarilyn.

Skyline

A snowy Empire beach by @owenweberlive.

Empire_OwenWeberLive

If you’re on Instagram, follow us @puremichigan! If you’d like us to share your photos from across the state, please tag them with #PureMichigan to give us permission to repost.