05 February 2019

Flaking Out

Tomorrow is Make a Snowflake Day, so I've got snowflakes on the brain.

Our January 11 snowstorm deposited 11 inches at our front door. I was in heaven! It was a Friday night, and I didn't have to be at work the next morning! I could shoot to my heart's content!!!

Every once in a while, I experience a snowflake shooting session that is just about a waste of time. Out of 257 shots (which took more than three hours), 17 photos were marginal. The rest were worthless.

I had purchased (my second) ring flash back in April, specifically to shoot snowflakes. But we never got any snow until the last few weeks. The ring flash never came out of the box until January 11, and it won't power up. (That's what happened the first time I bought a ring flash, different brand, back in about 2015. You'd think I'd have learned!) It's too late to send it back. I didn't register it when I received it. I haven't called the company yet, but I'm thinking about it. I know, every day I waste...

So on Snowflake Saving Time, I tried using the same set-up I've used in the past with some success. I use the camera's onboard flash to trigger a strobe, and I use a secondary light source such as a flashlight or headlamp to focus. The (rechargeable) bicycle headlamp I've used in the past burned out within about five minutes. It had been sitting dormant since September, the last time I used it while riding my bicycle to work. It takes about four hours to charge. I pulled out the second bicycle headlamp (The Lizard's, which had not been used in probably a year), and it was completely spent. I plugged both headlamps in to charge them and tried to find a flashlight or headlamp with power.

I know we bought flashlights last year. And the year before. And the year before that. But do you think I could find a single one??? (We bought another one last weekend, and I'm going to try keeping it near the front door so I can find it easily. I even bought extra batteries.)

I have this cute little dinosaur key chain on my backpack that spits light when you push the button behind his head. Kids love playing with it at church. I've used it a few times to find a keyhole in the middle of a dark night. I tried to use it to light up the snowflakes, but I couldn't keep the dinosaur's mouth open while trying to focus on a snowflake.

The flakes were getting fatter. The temperature was getting colder. The clock hands were getting too near midnight for comfort, even though I didn't have to be anywhere the next morning. I decided to try my hand at focusing by the light of the porch. That would work, right?

To say I was massively disappointed is a HUGE understatement. Our best snowstorm in ages, and I had nothing to show for it.

It snowed again - a whole four inches!!! - on Monday, January 28. I had to be at work, and the commute was going to take longer than normal. Illuminated by one of the bicycle headlamps, I shot 26 snowflake photos on my porch before leaving for work, then put the camera away because I didn't have time to download it. The flakes weren't very photogenic. They were clumps of broken flakes smashed into pellets by the wind, and they melted quickly beneath the headlamp beam. I didn't have much hope, but at least I'd shot a few.

While waiting for my train, which seemed to take forever (as in, I could have taken snowflake pictures for another 15 minutes without making myself later than I would already be), I noticed some perfectly formed snowflakes on my coat sleeve. I shot a few shots with my iPhone (without the accessory close-up lenses I'd purchased last year), not expecting much.

I pulled the point-and-shoot out of my backpack and shot 11 more photos before the train came, still not expecting much.

That night, I downloaded the big gun, my good camera, not expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised. This is not my Perfect Storm. But it's better than the last photo session! Out of 26 shots, I got 7 that aren't horrible. This will hold me over until the next storm!


  1. Got some clearer ones at the end indeed. All those flashlights and not a one at hand. Do they go where missing socks go?

    1. Ha ha, Pat! That must be! They sure do disappear!!!


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