Storm chaser during summer, Calgary photographer now captures ‘absolutely mind-blowing’ snowflake photos

With a cold snap gripping Calgary, Thursday wasn’t the greatest day to fire up the barbecue.

But when veteran amateur photographer Matt Melnyk headed out onto his deck after a fresh snowfall, he couldn’t wait to see what nature had served up on top of his grill.

“I sit there and I look very closely for the best (snowflakes) and then you’ve got to kind of focus in and hunt, and find the right ones and then you just go and shoot,” Melnyk said.

“I can get so zoomed in on these snowflakes and you can see the different patterns and designs and it’s absolutely mind-blowing.”

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Melnyk said other amateur photographers could certainly try capturing similar images of snowflakes, but there’s a lot more to it than meets the eye.

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“It requires a lot of technique and equipment and software and how to manipulate that software and make it all come together,” Melnyk said. “It’s not easy.”

And neither is his summer photo hobby.

“I’m a storm chaser. That’s my biggest thing — I love to shoot thunderstorms,” Melnyk said. “We will go out and we’ll find the biggest, baddest thunderstorms that you can possibly imagine in Alberta, with hail the size of golf balls and baseballs.”

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No matter how wild the weather might get, Melnyk says he and his fellow storm chasers don’t put themselves at risk.

“We’ll go after it, but we’re safe about it, because we know what we’re doing,”

It all started when Melnyk was a boy growing up in Edmonton. He was six years old when a devastating tornado hit the city on July 31, 1987.

“My mom was like, ‘We should all hide in the basement’, and I was like, ‘No, I want to watch this! I want to see this, I’m into this, this is totally what I want to do!’” Melnyk said.

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In the years that followed, he’s been shooting all kinds of nature’s spectacular displays, including the northern lights, finding it rewarding to share his images with others.

“I’ve given them away as cards to family and friends, (telling them), ‘This is what I did and I want you want to see it,’” Melnyk said.

While he’s looking forward to doing more storm chasing once the weather warms up, Melnyk will enjoy spending the next couple of months shooting snowflakes.

“They always say that no two are alike and I totally agree with that. Now that I’ve been doing this for almost 10 years,” Melnyk said. “It’s awesome!”

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