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29 incredible close-ups of snowflakes shot with a homemade camera rig

Tech Insider logo Tech Insider 1/3/2017 Kim Renfro

Snowflake macro photography Alexey Kljatov 22 © Provided by Business Insider Inc Snowflake macro photography Alexey Kljatov 22

Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov is a master of snowflake photography. After using a homemade rig with inexpensive equipment to take stunning close-ups, Kljatov's snowflake photos went viral in 2013.

But he hasn't stopped capturing amazing photos, and now his images are more stunning than ever. Kljatov shared new photos with INSIDER, and thanks to his extensive "how-to" blog post, we learned more about the process behind the images.

Keep reading for a look at the amazing snowflake crystals and to learn more about how Kljatov works his magic. 

Kljatov was inspired to try his own snowflake photography after seeing a website called "Snow Crystals" created by a CalTech physics professor named Kenneth Libbrecht.

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Check out the original "Snow Crystals" website here.

At first Kljatov believed it was impossible for amateurs to capture photos like these without expensive equipment.

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"Now I know that this is completely wrong!" he wrote. "Every photographer with simple point-and-shoot camera can take very good snowflake pictures."

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Kljtatov uses what's called a "lens reversal macro technique" with a compact Canon Powershot A650is camera and a lens called the Helios 44M-5.

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Read his full explanation of the rig and set up on his blog.

Here's what his rig looks like:

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His favorite "background" is a dark woolen fabric, like the ones we've been showing you so far.

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"Against this background, snowflakes look very impressive," he wrote. "Like precious gems in a jewelry store."

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But he also uses a glass background to capture the snowflakes in a different light.

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For these he uses a piece of glass that rests on the legs of an overturned stool.

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You'd never expect such amazing results from the homemade set up.

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For the lighting, he puts a flashlight nearby and uses colored glass patterns to create a subtle background of pinks or yellows.

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The result is a gorgeous silhouette of the snowflake that looks almost unreal.

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Once the glass sheet is completely covered with snowflakes, Kljatov wipes it clean with a dry towel and starts over.

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For both photo types, Kljatov actually took a series of pictures of the same snowflake.

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Then he aligned all the images on top of each other.

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This is called "averaging," and helps to reveal more details that might be missed in a single picture.

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Kljatov said he usually takes 8 to 10 pictures of each snowflake.

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But for "more interesting and beautiful crystals" he sometimes snaps 16 or more pictures before averaging them.

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Kljatov's "studio" is simply the open balcony at his home.

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Half of the balcony is covered by a roof, so he can shoot either out in the open as snow is falling lightly or under the roof if its heavier.

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"I'm lucky that I have such a nice place where nobody disturbs me," Kljatov wrote. "And I can return into house when I freeze."

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Though he says a good snowfall in Moscow can be rare, it's always worth the wait.

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"For this type of photography, patience, persistence and luck mean much more than any expensive photo technique," he wrote.

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We love the small imperfections he captures — like the tiny snowflake connected to this larger one seen below.

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Or the super delicate edges of this one — which looks like it might melt at any second.

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The translucent crystal seen here looks awesome with a purple background.

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And the hexagonal pattern of this one is pretty neat.

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Here's another shot of two snowflakes that buddied up.

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And a frosty lil' fella whose six prongs look almost fuzzy.

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Last but not least, this snowflake is three dimensional in the coolest way.

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To learn more about Kljatov's snowflake photography, head to his blog.

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His post on snowflake macro photography goes into helpful detail about his camera, lens, and photo-processing techniques. 

"Even after eight winters of regular photo sessions, seeing thousands of snowflakes in all their details, I do not get tired to admire [sic] new crystals with amazing form or an incredible inner pattern," Kljatov said.

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