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Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 17 of 21

Photographing Snowflakes


Innovative Techniques for Outdoor Photography

Lesson 17 of 21

Photographing Snowflakes


Lesson Info

Photographing Snowflakes

Snowflakes I had to move from california to colorado springs in order to find snowflakes, but I'm standing outside the front door and I'm wearing a police jacket and I looked down at my my arm and I'm seeing these crystals that are just absolutely plea stunning and yeah, I remember reading about the fact that every snowflake is different and all that kind of stuff, and it brought it home in a fraction of a second, and then at that point, I started to work on trying to photograph snowflakes, not knowing that there was a guy out there that was the world's best snowflake photo photographer and he had books that would, you know, make you quit because they're just so good. But anyway, I started on this project and then later found out about it, and it helped me even do a better job. But the idea is that you have this piece of black card and you hold it out into the snow and you find you can see what which ones are beautiful or not, and you take a little tiny paintbrush and you bring it over...

to your equipment, which is outside and is cold is everything else is because if it wasn't, it would melt, everything would melt immediately, so you gotta have it really cold you have to have some pretty crazy equipment in the sense that you have to shoot between four and eight x I'm now I've made this equipment much less well when you see it, he won't think it's less, but this is a big copy stand a couple of flashes underneath this snowflake we've got lights on here that lighted up so that I could see it the focus it we talked about this theo suit us utility program that comes with your cameras I'm using my laptop to do that I have a snowflake elevated with a clear plastic cylinder so that the light could come up underneath it a snowflake has no color, so we add color by putting a red and a blue gel from underneath it and it gives us some pretty interesting ways of looking at them. Uh this one's a little weird because it's got rime ice on it as the snowflake is moving around in the cloud it's building itself up as a crystal as it moves around within the cloud but sometimes there's a little tiny bits of ice that are up there and they had here to the snowflake inside this bunch of little tiny pieces of ice is a snowflake but it's it's gold rime ice these air the kind of still flicks I was looking for and there's all kinds of different views of it this is a stack of snowflakes and we're using stacking we're using high magnification macro we're trying to bring light underneath we're putting a background under there which is another light with a gel on it so it's gotten pretty crazy this is one of the latest ones I've done one problem with oregon is it has a lot of rime ice and I go up to mt bachelor where the ski area we go up there to run eight, nine thousand feet and uh you confined snowflakes throughout the throughout the winter except that they got a lot of rime ice I'm still looking for good snowflakes in oregon so this is my latest rig and I could take this out in the back of my car because I have to go to the snow instead of this snow coming to me and here's a little small tripod and it's a fix it's a fix to this base so that everything doesn't move around there's our stack shot again and there is the comptroller for it and I have of the little led like these big lights that are honest now but they're just little small ones they're like thirty nine forty dollars and you can get them through amazon and they've got maybe thirty some little tiny bulbs in him and so forth with a gel and that's giving me my light coming from underneath now to give me the reds and the blues instead of these two big strobes I now have a little boy book lights if you go on amazon and you put in book light, you'll find ellie or put in led book light and you find his little book lights that clamped to the page and there's little goose arm that you could move anywhere you want it they're just wonderful and some have six ladies in them, some have three led, some of them have one led uh, and they're very inexpensive, they very good color and they're very bright and I use them as my background, and sometimes I actually use him in some macro photography as my light sources and they were made the light up a book, but they do a really great job for that. I then have this cam ranger that I have been talking about for doing this uh, very this video and the the high magnification stuff, and what I do is I then send that signal to my to my ipad so that I can monitor all of this and I'm working out there and I've got a big they don't have the rigged to show you here, but I'm working with a big umbrella over me or something in the back of my back of my vehicle because I have to be in the snow, everything has to be cold so that the snowflake doesn't melt when I stick it down onto there. I was out there doing a one time in a whole class of I think it was third graders or second graders came by, and I had to give this whole spiel about how it did this is because they wanted to know what I was doing, so it was it was fun to be out there doing that. This is this is another one of those really nice crystals, and you want they could be a much greater than this. And if you look at the covers that look at these snowflakes, this is a gentleman and kenneth liberated and he works at caltech in in california, but he travels all over the u s to find the best snowflakes, and he tells you how to do it. I don't do it the way he does it, but his way obviously works. That doesn't make any difference how you get there as long as you've got the final result. Another thing I should mention here is that there's more than one way to do all the things we've talked about here today, this is just my way, and I have proof to hopefully prove to show you that it works so in some ways I hope it gets you started and what you're doing.

Class Description


  • Create a variety of dramatic panoramas.

  • Capture rapid movements, such as the flapping of a bird’s wings.

  • Take close-up shots that depict the beauty and vibrant colors of flowers.

  • Capture images of snowflakes using specialized equipment and intricate techniques.

  • Photograph and take videos of lightning storms.

  • Use various types of additional lighting, including electronic flashes.


Are you a major gearhead who loves hearing about the latest and greatest photography equipment on the market today? Do you want to learn some amazing techniques that will take your outdoor photography game to the next level?

If you want to shoot like a pro and get an inside look at how one of the greatest outdoor photographers around makes his magic, then this is the course for you. Celebrated photographer George Lepp shares some of his best-known photographs and describes the techniques and equipment needed to capture images of wild animals, beautiful flowers, and awesome landscapes.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Paint with high-powered flashlights during long exposures.

  • Use special techniques and post-processing software programs to extend your depth of field.

  • Take macro photography shots using special lenses and extension tubes.

  • Utilize tele extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots.

  • Use HDR to get natural looking contrast control.

  • Perform time-lapse photography with movement and panning.

  • Discover a variety of DSLR video shooting techniques.

Experienced photographers interested in exploring the intricacies of outdoor photography will love hearing George’s thrilling stories about his great outdoor and travel photography shoots all over the world like Africa and his close calls with wild animals. By the end of this course, you’ll be inspired to challenge yourself and experiment with these truly incredible techniques.


  • Experienced photographers who want to learn about cutting-edge equipment and innovative techniques for outdoor photography.

  • Photographers looking to be inspired by one of the greats and wanting to hear about his personal experiences.

  • Those who are new to outdoor photography and want an inside look at what it’s like to be a professional in the field.


George D. Lepp is one of North America’s best-known contemporary outdoor and nature photographers. His passions for natural beauty, technical precision, cutting-edge technology, and environmental responsibility are revealed in his beautiful and compelling photographic images. He is also widely recognized for his unique dedication to sharing his photographic and biological knowledge with other photographers through his seminars, writing, and inventions. George Lepp is a leader in the rapidly advancing field of outdoor photography and digital imaging. 

Lepp’s images have appeared in some of the world’s most widely viewed venues and on the covers of many books and magazines, including Natural History, Car and Driver, PC Photo, and Outdoor Photographer; at prestigious galleries and museums throughout the United States; and at the corporate headquarters of Canon USA, Eastman Kodak, and Epson America. He was chosen by Canon USA as one of the first members of its Explorers of Light program, which features the industry’s most influential photographers. He is known both for his sweeping panoramas that capture the magnificence of exotic locations and his stunning high-magnification macro renditions of subjects such as snowflakes and butterfly wings. His stock and assignment photography is represented by Getty, Corbis, and Photo Researchers. 

Lepp is regularly read in popular photographic magazines; he has contributed for thirty years as a field editor and columnist to Outdoor Photographer Magazine and more recently has published technical articles in Europe’s c’t Digital Photography Magazine. He is the author of many books, including Wildlife Photography: Stories from the Field, Golden Poppies of California, and Beyond the Basics I and II: Innovative Techniques for Outdoor and Nature Photography, as well as hundreds of articles on photography. He has taught at Photoshop World, Santa Fe Workshops, Palm Beach Workshops, and founded the Lepp Institute of Digital Imaging. Lepp is a founding board member and a fellow of the North American Nature Photographers Association and winner of many awards for his work, including Photo Media’s Photography Person of the Year and the prestigious Progress Award, the highest given by the Photographic Society of America. 

First trained in wildlife and wildlands management, George Lepp later earned a BPA and honorary MS in Professional Photography from Brooks Institute. Contact him through his web site, www.GeorgeLepp.com.


  1. Class Overview

    Get an overview of what you’ll learn in this course on creative outdoor photography, including how to do panoramas, extending your depth of field, and time-lapse photography.

  2. Types of Panorama for Outdoor Photography

    There are many different panorama techniques, from composite to hand-held to multi-camera. You’ll learn about all of them and the basic techniques for creating them right here.

  3. Gigapan and Action Pano for Outdoor Photography

    Learn to take a Gigapan panorama and get extremely big and detailed shots.

  4. Additional Lighting: Light Painting, Flash and Ambient

    George discusses options for additional outdoor photography lighting, including electronic flashes, the Better Beamer Flash Extender, and using high-powered flashlights to paint with light during long exposures.

  5. Extended Depth of Field

    Sometimes it’s important to have objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background all in sharp focus. Learn about various software programs and techniques to achieve extended depth of field photography.

  6. Macro Photography Techniques

    Learn about macro photography techniques, lenses, and extension tubes.

  7. Tele-extenders and Outdoor Photography

    Learn about using tele-extenders and other tools to get high-magnification shots of things such as a butterfly’s wings.

  8. HDR as a Tool

    High dynamic range (HDR) allows you to take multiple exposures at once and achieve natural looking contrast control within your final image. George offers a variety of HDR photography tips.

  9. Time-lapse Outdoor Photography

    Learn how to shoot time lapse photography with movement and panning.

  10. DSLR HD Video

    Learn about DSLR video shooting techniques and the essential equipment you’ll need.

  11. Cinemagraphs for Outdoor Photography

    George talks about the cinemagraph for outdoor photography, which is a still image with an element that moves.

  12. Photographing Birds

    Digital photography allows you to take incredible shots of birds and their movements. Get some bird photography tips and learn about shutter speeds and the equipment you’ll need to take your best images.

  13. Photographing Mammals

    George discusses wildlife photography techniques and his experiences shooting mammals, including speedy cheetahs, angry elephants, and hungry hippos.

  14. Photographing Birds and Mammals Q & A

    George offers some wildlife photography critiques and answers questions about his wildlife photography, including using a flash when taking pictures of birds and mammals.

  15. Macro Photography and Flowers

    George shares his flower photography techniques and confirms how he took glorious shots at Keukenhof Gardens in Holland.

  16. Photographing Butterflies

    Get some photo tips for photographing butterflies, including the importance of having a telephoto lens and a flash.

  17. Photographing Snowflakes

    Get the scoop on what you’ll need for snowflake macro photography, including special lighting, a copy stand, an adjustable base, and really cold equipment.

  18. Photographing Landscapes

    George offers some landscape photography tips for beginners and talks about some of his favorite places and landscape images.

  19. Photographing Lightning

    Learn how to photograph lightning and how to take video of lightning storms.

  20. HDR Landscapes and Time Lapse

    Learn about HDR landscape photography—compiling a series of pictures to capture various levels of light.

  21. Final Outdoor Photography Q&A

    Students get a chance to ask some final questions of George about outdoor photography ideas, including things such as panoramas, extenders, and white balance.



I watched the entire class, and found it to be a very negative experience - in contrast to all of my other experiences with Creative Live, which had been very good. The problem with this class was the instructor. Mr. Lepp, rather than giving us practical, useful information, and techniques for approaching the subject of Outdoor Photography, instead used his time to show off his seemingly endless array of incredibly expensive and cutting edge gadgetry. For the first half hour or so, Mr. Lepp seemed pleasant and interesting, but it quickly became apparent that this class was NOT about anything relating to the art of outdoor photography. Instead, it was basically a seminar highlighting exotic equipment for the 1%. I have well over $25,000 of photographic equipment, but the arena in which Mr. Lepp plays begins somewhere around the $100,000 mark, and then requires a staggering ongoing budget for chartering helicopters, hiring guides, and constant upgrades to remain on the bleeding edge of gadgetry and accessories. From his gyroscopic mounts to his 40" printer, Mr. Lepp has it ALL and continues to spend, spend, spend. I admire his deep pockets, but I would have appreciated some real insight and technique and useful knowledge on actually getting great shots. (And I must say... Mr. Lepp's work... did not impress me to the degree that other teachers on CreativeLive have.) I believe those giving positive reviews here were more or less wowed by the sheer magnitude of his extensive, well-funded travels and his off-handed way of revealing the endless contraptions and combinations of gear he uses. The passion here is clearly about the gadgetry, and NOT about finding an original and creative voice in the arena of outdoor photography.

R. Hetrick

Amazing class! I particularly loved the macro and how to correctly take panoramic photos sections. George was not only a great teacher but he was super funny too. Would be happy to take any of his future classes.


George really prepared a lot of information for his class. It is true, he does have a lot of expensive equipment and we may not be able to do some of the things he does with a smaller budget, but it is good incentive for us to plan for the future. He seemed to share new information constantly and stay focused and I was able to take a lot of notes. He talked about many kinds of equipment as well as software and websites he uses. I am pretty impressed that he is so up to date with recent technology. He especially loves macro/micro and stacking hundreds of images for minute focus on really large enlargements (for example, over 600 photos for one butterfly wing). That can get boring if you are not interested in doing that. I can take those tips and apply them to landscape photography though. I think it is more helpful for someone already doing outdoor photography and looking for new inspiration or new techniques as opposed to someone new to photography in general.