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: The Ultimate Way to Spend a Pure Michigan Snow Day

Winter in Pure Michigan means plenty of snow and plenty of chances to bundle up and get outside with the ones we love. As we prepare for the snowy season ahead, our fans shared a few of their favorite ways to spend a snow day in Pure Michigan.

Use these suggestions and plan ahead for the next time Mother Nature transforms our state into a glistening winter wonderland. For more on planning a Pure Michigan winter outing, visit michigan.org/snowday.

Photo courtesy of Facebook Fan Chris Campo

Photo courtesy of Facebook Fan Chris Campo

Grab some coffee and a good breakfast, shovel the driveway, and get out and enjoy the snow! – Twitter user  ‏@Randomhero180

We go to Mackinaw and play in the snow by the bridge. Its a 3 hour drive, but it’s so fun. – Brent Mowry

Dress warm and drink lots of warm beverages. – Deborah L. Sorgen

Start the day off with a morning skate at a outdoor rink, snowball fights with the street, hitting the slopes in the evening. – Twitter user @Mike_Carlson23

Building snowmen with my grandkids. – Rhonda McClain

Playing with the kids building a snowman, having snowball fight or building a snow fort. – Twitter user @FShawnoo

Photo courtesy of Todd Schloegel

Photo courtesy of Todd Schloegel

Sledding through the Upper Peninsula. – James Clymer

Ideal snow day: Bundling up & going outside to snowshoe, ice skate, snowboard, or go ice fishing – or all! – Twitter user @stefherder 

Walking in the quiet woods. It’s peaceful and beautiful. – Julie Burr Bryan

Snowshoe + home brew; Michigan winter combo! – Ben Nighswonger

Drinking Michigan craft beer in any of many locations in the state. – Twitter user @jaw325

Walking the pier in St. Joseph and having hot cocoa at the Chocolate Cafe after! – Briana Herzog

Photo courtesy of Facebook Fan Katrina Wright-Rayhill

Photo courtesy of Facebook Fan Katrina Wright-Rayhill

Go outdoors! Snowball fights, forts, tubing/sledding, snowboarding/skiing, and then dry out/warm up while reading by the fire. – Twitter user @MegDaLibrarian

As I recall, the ultimate way to spend a snowy day was to bundle up around the fire with hot cocoa and toasted marshmallows listening to some great music. - Frances Resseguie Richardson

The ultimate way to spend a snow day in Michigan = Snowshoeing with family on the amazingly scenic Pure Michigan trails! – Twitter user @Ciesla504

Spending it with FAMILY- the more, the merrier! No matter what you’re doing or where you are! – Twitter user @rychepet

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day? Share your photos enjoying the snow using #PureMichiganSnowDay on Twitter and Instagram!

These Action-Packed Winter Sports Videos Will Make You Want to Grab Your Parka and Head Outside Immediately!

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Photo courtesy of Downwind Sports

Press pause on that adorable cat video. These action-packed winter sports videos will leave you eager to bundle up and hit the snow! We could tell you that Michigan boasts a variety of epic winter activities for skiers, snowboarders and adventurers alike, but we’ll let you see for yourself.

Take a first hand look at the winter thrills that await you in Pure Michigan.

Winter Ziplining

Ziplining is a thrilling way to experience Pure Michigan landscape, especially on a brisk winter day. Glide 50 feet above the snow and experience all that a winter ziplining adventure brings – from the thrill of the jump off, to some of the sights and sounds you’ll experience on a Pure Michigan winter day.

Ice Sailing

Ice sailing, originating more than 4,000 years ago, is known as the fastest of all winter sports. While popular all around the world, Michigan is a well-known destination because of our great lakes and winter winds. Watch as the 2012 WISSA team takes you racing over a frozen lake on a wind-powered sled, hitting speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

Ice Climbing

With miles of sandstone cliffs lined with hundreds of frozen waterfalls, Michigan is home to some of the best ice climbing spots in the country. Experience the thrill of climbing a frozen waterfall, ranging from 20 to 210 feet tall, while taking in the scenic landscape that only a Michigan winter provides.

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding, a historic form of transportation is also a fun way to get out and enjoy the winter months. With more than 2,000 miles of dogsledding trails, 11,000 frozen inland lakes and a number of snow-covered national forests, Michigan is a great destination for a dog sledding adventure. Experience the rush and excitement as a pack of huskies pull us along the glistening Michigan winter landscape.

Snow Tubing

One of the most popular and well-known wintertime activities is sledding and snow tubing. A Pure Michigan winter offers plenty of hills and slopes for families and kids of all ages. Watch as we take you on a snow tubing adventure and imagine yourself flying down a snowy hill, racing your friends or family members to the bottom, and taking in the scenic Michigan winter wonderland on your way back up to the top.

Downhill Skiing

Downhill skiing on fresh, white powder is Pure Michigan. Michigan is ranked second in the nation for number of ski areas and is a great skiing destination for beginners, families and experts alike. Explore the various slopes across the state, from family friendly hills to triple black diamonds, and the highest vertical drop in the Midwest.

Snowboarding

A Pure Michigan winter is a snowboarders’ paradise. Explore the diverse snowboarding terrain that Michigan has to offer for all levels and ages — from steep runs and 30-foot cliff drops to beginner parks with small jumps and rails.

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is a winter activity that anyone can enjoy and with more than 3,000 miles of cross country skiing trails, Michigan is the perfect place. Watch as we take you through the snowy trails to enjoy the peaceful sights and sounds of a brisk, Michigan winter day.

What’s your favorite thing to do outdoors in the winter?