12 stunning snowflake photos you won’t believe were taken by an amateur photographer

Amateur photographer Alexey Kljatov uses a simple Canon PowerShot to capture these pristine photos of snowflakes.

Amateur photographer Alexey Kljatov uses a simple Canon PowerShot to capture these pristine photos of snowflakes.

No, these designs aren’t the latest in 3D printing technology; they are photographs of snowflakes taken by self-taught Moscow photographer, Alexey Kljatov.

Photo grapher Alexey Kljatov use quick bursts of his shutter to animate snowflakes melting. This stunning sequence is in reverse.

Photo grapher Alexey Kljatov uses quick bursts of his shutter to animate snowflakes melting. The sequence above is in reverse.

Photographing snowflakes has taught Kljatov, 40, to appreciate the beauty of snowflakes, and the perfect weather conditions required to create the intricate crystals. “This is the true wonder of physics, that only random changes of temperature and humidity around growing crystals produces something so unique and beautiful to our eyes.”

Photography first caught Kljatov’s attention when his mother began taking digital macro photographs. Kljatov experimented with magnified photographs of insects and butterflies, and years later, snowflake photography caught his eye. As a lifelong skier, he has always loved snow and winter.

He first saw snowflake images on SnowCrystals.com, California Institute of Technology professor Kenneth G. Libbrecht’s website. “I thought that it is impossible to shoot something like this for amateur photographer, without any experience and expensive microscopy technique,” he said. He now knows it isn’t true.

“Every photographer with a simple point-and-shoot camera can make very good snowflake photos,” Kljatov said. “For this type of photography, patience, persistence and luck means much more than any expensive photo technique.” Kljatov has been photographing snowflakes for the past eight years.

Kljatov describes his process on his website. He photographs the snowflakes on either a dark wool or glass background on his balcony. He uses a Canon Powershot A650 IS with the attached lens at 6X zoom through a reversed Helios 44M-5 lens that he got from an old USSR-made Zenit camera. He has downloaded Canon hack firmware onto his camera, which allows him to shoot RAW and HDR, or high dynamic range, images.

snowflake_meltingThere are factors in snowflake photography that are out of his control. “It is necessary to wait for good snowfalls, which brings a large number of interesting and beautiful snowflakes. They happens not so often, at least, in Moscow, but one lucky day can give you lots of wonderful photographs.”

According to Kljatov, the past six Decembers have been too warm to produce many good snow crystals. “This December, however, [was] unusually warm. … A little snow, which was on the streets, today completely washed away by rains,” he said in an email he sent to the NewsHour on Christmas Eve.

He said he has the most opportunities to take snow photographs in January, February and even March.

Kljatov also enjoys HDR photography of Moscow nightscapes. You can see those here. And see more of his snowflakes below: