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he partially explained that it was light illuminating the flakes, but it seems that the flakes are also greatly out of focus with a high shutter speed?

i'd guess that simply zooming far ahead would normally make the flakes invisible.

marked as duplicate by Philip Kendall, chuqui, inkista, MikeW, John Cavan Mar 27 '15 at 2:10

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As you say, normally the flakes would be nearly invisible, however, the photographer has used a bright flash to illuminate the flakes, so that they are much brighter than the surrounding environment. This means that, even though they are out of focus, the flakes still appear in the image, but as big dots.

  • ah yes, the strong flash! that's it :) – Sonic Soul Mar 26 '15 at 21:11

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