The Snowflake Ballerina

The closer you get to a goal, the farther the goal appears in the horizon.

I get it – that’s a very paradoxical statement.  But it describes my current journey of capturing snowflakes in a photograph.

Case in point.

Yesterday afternoon, the snows came down upon the earth.  This is what I want.  The minute I get home from the day job, I’m going to get those snowflakes and get as many as I can.

But the traffic was absolutely bumper-to-bumper all the way home.  What was normally a 20-minute trip from Albany to the Town and Village of Green Island took nearly 90 minutes.  Ugh.

6:30.  There’s still some snowflakes falling, but I’ve lost daylight.

Don’t care.  Gotta do this.  I put a piece of black fleece outside to let the fabric chill up.  I need chilly fabric to catch the snowflakes and preserve them, not melt them.

Okay, now to address the camera.  Gotta hope that the ring flash on my Nikon Df will work in the darkness.

Quick test.


Batteries are dead.

Okay, run to the fridge.  Yep, there’s a fresh pack of AA batteries in the fridge.  Yes, I keep batteries in the fridge until I need them.  Don’t you?

Four new AA batteries in the ring flash.

Ring flash lights up.  Great.

Now let’s put those new extension tubes on the camera and –

Oh great.  For some reason, the additional extension tubes aren’t connecting with my macro lens.

Gotta get something else.  I can use one of my prime lenses instead, especially with all the magnification from the extension tubes.

And …

Here we go, I’ve got my old HELIOS 50mm f/2 lens from when I went through a Russian Kiev 35mm phase.  Did you know that the Russian Kiev-19 camera was a glorified Nikon F clone, and that their HELIOS 50mm f/2 lenses fit nicely on Nikon gear?  Yes they do.

It’s almost 7:00 pm.  Ready to go.  Behind schedule, but ready to go.

I go outside.  It’s 15° outside.  And the snowflakes have stopped.


There’s a few on the fabric, not very many.

I focus on one snowflake that landed near the corner of the fabric.

Let’s try this.

A Snowflake Ballerina. Nikon Df camera, HELIOS 81-H lens, six Vello extension tubes. Photo (c) 2019 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

It’s not much … but I did solve some issues.

This picture is actually big enough to print as an 8 1/2 x 11 image.  I wanted that.

The black fleece did a great job of catching the snowflake and not being a distracting background.  I wanted that.

And the HELIOS lens – along with the extension tubes – worked well with the ring flash.  I wanted that as well.

This means I’m getting closer to my goal.  Much closer.

Let’s keep at this.

No giving up now.