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Don Komarechka
Works at Georgian College
Attended Georgian College
Lived in barrie, ontario
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Don Komarechka

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I can show you how to make images exactly like this in a workshop coming up on May 7th!
http://www.donkom.ca/product/macro-photography-workshops/

A three hour course on water droplets, you say? Even without proper macro equipment you will be surprised by what you can create. There will be gear to loan out and you even get to take home some of the tools required to keep experimenting!

It’s an inventive, almost magical area of photography that can be accomplished on your kitchen table. Ask anyone who has taken this workshop and they’ll say they got more out of it than they expected.

The workshop is held in Barrie, Ontario on May 7, 2PM – 5PM. The cost is only $135, and it’s the last time I’m running this workshop until much later in the year!

This image is created using a seed from the “Prairie Smoke” wildflower, which is a wonderful seed to work with. Most wildflowers have a “sail” attached to their seed to catch the wind and be carried away to a new location, and these sails collect water droplets perfectly. The more spherical a droplet, the better it is at acting like a lens, refracting an image of whatever is placed behind it. In this case, a fiery orange Gerbera Daisy is placed behind.
The seed is clamped in a third hand tool just below the surface of water to get this composition. Each workshop participant also walks away with a third hand tool of their own! Simply sprayed with water, the seed takes on a whole new life.

This is also a single frame, cropped for this composition. No focus stacking or complex post-processing required.

Join me for an afternoon, and learn a completely new way to create photographic art!

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Gorgeous Don! Great macro
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Snowflakes in the Spring
Listen, Mother Nature... we had a deal. Flowers are blooming, the chipmunks are finished their hibernation and we’ve had enough rain to make it clear that the shingles over our sunroom are in desperate need of replacing. Spring is here, so what’s with the April snow storms?!

We’re in the process of getting thoroughly covered in snow. It’s coming down as we speak, and this snowflake was one of the first that I captured earlier this evening. As soon as my workshop participants left early this evening, I grabbed my camera. What kind of snowflakes does an April snowfall bring? Colourful ones.

The colour is determined by the thickness of a bubble trapped in the ice. Thin film interference is the cause of the colour, which happens when light reflecting off of multiple surfaces that are extremely close together. In this case, some light reflects off of the front surface of the ice, and some light continues inside to reflect off the inner ice/air boundary where the bubble starts. Because the light traveling through the ice would have been moving slower for a very brief period of time, it’s now “out of sync” with the light that reflected off the front surface without ever entering the ice.

These two reflections, if the ice is thin enough, will be close enough in their parallel trajectories to interfere with one another. If some wavelengths of light are still in sync, they get amplified (constructive interference). If others are completely out of sync, then destructive interference makes them less pronounced. From white light, colours will emerge! The colours are a direct result of the thickness of the ice, caused by the thickness of the bubble inside the ice. Change the thickness, change the colour!

This snowflake is tiny. It measures around 600 microns (0.6mm) in diameter, and is among the smallest crystals you can photograph. Though tiny, I wanted to share this image with you all tonight to make tomorrow’s clean-up a little more tolerable. :)

My work with snowflakes has stretched across six years, and as much of my knowledge and techniques with the subject is compiled into the book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - 304 pages of science, photographic and editing techniques, and a glimpse into the true beauty of winter.

“The Snowflake” is a poster print consisting of over 400 crystals, all scaled and placed in relative size to one another – a project that has never been attempted at this scale before: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - it took over 2500 hours across five years to produce, and ask anyone who owns a copy – it was worth the effort.

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You're very welcome
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Snowflake-a-Day #101: The Tip Jar
A few people recommended I do this, so here it is! One extra snowflake, and a small request. If you enjoyed this series of images that has taken many hundreds of hours to produce this winter, I would graciously welcome any tips as a compliment to the artwork you’ve enjoyed all winter. You can do so here: https://skycrystals.ca/tipjar/

Any donations as a thank-you for this series will go directly back into the “next big projects” with regards to snowflakes. The purchase of hardware and software to print full 3D models (a lot of people have been asking about snowflake jewelry), potential experiments in growing artificial snowflakes, etc. Every “tip” will be rewarded with a discount or freebie on whatever next winter’s big project turns out to be, no matter how small the contribution.

Consider it a blind investment with a return of some kind within a year. :)

I really must thank you all for your continued support in the form on compliments and positive feedback. Without such motivating remarks, I would not be able to complete this series of images each year. It’s truly an exhausting project, and there are many moments throughout the winter where it almost falls apart. This concludes the fifth year in a row where I’ve done this 100-day snowflake project, and my work with the subject began a year prior before getting the crazy idea to overload you all with my snowflake work.

This will also be the last year I do a full 100-day project. With a baby girl on the way (due in June!) and many different snowflake experiments to explore, I won’t have the time for another full showing. It’s my intention to at least offer a daily project from December 1st through to Christmas Day next year, after which I’ll switch gears to keep things interesting.

Thanks again to everyone! How to play a relentless catch-up game of shipping out the remaining poster orders and responding to over 400 e-mails. It’s going to be a long week, wish me luck!

(full resolution image found through the link)
I hope you enjoy my daily Snowflake project through the winter months! If you’d like to contribute something small to future work in this area, I’m placing out
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Thanks for the very nice compliments on my work +Pamela Drummond, and even greater thanks for the family well wishes. :)
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Snowflake-a-Day #99
Unbalanced and asymmetrical, but THE CENTER! Crazy colours from thin film interference were saved for the second-to-last snowflake, and please do me a favour: view large!
 
I debated whether or not to crop in on this snowflake to showcase the center more vibrantly, but I decided to keep the branches, as they tell part of the story. What would have been a vibrantly symmetrical snowflake gave way to lanky branches that look they belong to another snowflake. Let’s start with the center and explore these colours, however.
 
If you haven’t read my rambles about colour in snowflakes, there’s a great explanation for thin film interference in the pages of Sky Crystals. Here’s a link to the specific pages: http://skycrystals.ca/pages/optical-interference-pages.jpg . The colour is based on the thickness of the ice and the thickness of the bubble between layers of ice. It’s more common that the bubble with change size, translating to a change in the thickness of the ice on either side of it. This generates different colours, even over very slight changes. The green, orange, yellow and magenta inner areas represent slight variations in growth. Things balance out for the blue areas, and eventually the initial three-fold symmetry becomes much more even as we reach the outer edge of the hexagonal center.
 
This snowflake was part of a cluster of crystals, pried apart from its neighbours to get a better look at the details of this individual crystal. You can still see a few column-type snowflakes resting on top of the lower right branch, but there were much bigger snowflakes that affected the growth. The strange holes and difference in length of the left branches are probably a result of the cluster. Snowflakes layered on top of this one at weird angles can starve certain parts of the snowflake from getting enough water vapour, and they can affect the aerodynamics of the cluster, allowing one side to receive more water vapour than another. These clusters often create interesting snowflakes, but rarely are the individual component crystals symmetrical.
 
When you see light fluffy snow falling from the sky, you might be looking at a snowflake like one, trapped inside that fluffy cluster and never appreciated on its own. To further that thought, this snowflake was a bit of a “dumpster dive” in the snowflake world. Occasionally, if the snow has just stopped falling but I still want to take a few more images, I have another strategy.
 
All of my snowflakes are photographed on a homemade black mitten as the background. This is a great surface for collecting interesting crystals on an insulating, isolating background…. But the woolen fibers also act a bit like Velcro. If I lay the mitten on top of freshly fallen snow and pick it up and turn it over, I will have a selection of the last snow to fall, ready for inspection and possibly to photograph. These crystals will almost always be suffering from some level of sublimation (the fresher the better, and minutes matter), but you might be able to find a few extra snowflakes worth shooting. This was one of those snowflakes.
 
For a comprehensive photographic tutorial, and tons of interesting science on snowflakes, grab a copy of Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - this 304pg hardcover book is a great way to experience snow, especially now that we’re heading into spring! (and the thought of snow becomes much less frustrating)
 
I’m currently shipping out all the pre-orders, and Artist Proofs ship immediately, for my print titled “The Snowflake”: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - 2500 hours of work across five years to make a single image. Crazy? Yes. Worth looking at? Also yes. :)
 
One more day to go!
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Thanks +Edna Dantas!
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Snowflake-a-Day #97
Take a moment to appreciate this: I have never seen a snowflake like this before. Never in my own work, and never photographed or documented by anyone else. This is certainly a first, and definitely an exciting image to share with you all. View large!
 
I believe this snowflake technically belongs in the family of “arrowhead” crystals, but I might even be wrong about that. This snowflake is incredibly difficult to classify in any way. We can however identify certain features that give us clues to its origin:
 
Dividing lines. From the middle of each side towards the center, and from each corner towards the center, this snowflake is divided. The simple grooved lines are usually caused by evaporation, which would tell us that some level of crystal twinning is happening. That said, I’ve never seen “grid twinning” like this before, and I didn’t even know it was possible. The diagonal lines running to the corners and studded with interesting crystal squares that are reminiscent of arrowhead snowflakes because of their consecutive 90-degree angles all in alignment. The kicker here? Arrowhead crystals form along a crystal twinning line. The darker line underneath the squares that link them all together could easily be another indication of crystal twinning.
 
This makes no sense at all. You’d have 8 crystal twins making a complete rectangle. Not possible.
 
To make things even more complex, it appears as if the center of the snowflake has a “button” crystal, which appears to be connected by a center column. We see this quite often, as a column transitions into plate-like growth. The issue here is that the center also has a rectangular shape.
 
Water forms into hexagonal crystals with 60 degree angles connecting the prism facets. The connection between the basal facets and the prism facets are 90 degrees, and off growths can make these 90-degree facets show more prominently. This takes it to a new level of weirdness and wonder that I can’t wrap my head around.
 
There is one possibility: This could be a different phase of ice. I haven’t studied the more exotic forms of ice (most need to be created in a lab), but high atmospheric crystals can form into cubic designs rather than hexagon. Our “regular” snowflakes, created from “Ice Ih”, features the standard rules I’ve come to know and understand about snowflake growth. A very small percentage of “Ice Ic”, metastable cubic crystals, can be created naturally in the atmosphere at temperatures less than -35C (more commonly less than -55C), easily reached in the highest atmospheric elevations. You can read up more on ice phases here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice#Phases . I’m not sure if this is even a possible explanation, or if it’s just a strange unseen behaviour of regular ice. I’m left scratching my head on this one.
 
For a bigger dose of snowflake mysteries (and their proper explanations!), check out my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - it details all of my photographic techniques and provides a complete step-by-step editing and focus stacking workflow. Worth a look if you enjoy macro photography or natural science!
 
If you enjoy this series, see what over 400 crystals look like when placed together in relative size to one another in “The Snowflake”: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - created with 2500 hours of painstaking effort across five years, it’s bound to impress!
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Diana Boyd's profile photoPamela Drummond's profile photoDarlene Greene's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Thanks +Laurie Jean Corvillion! Any snowflake with a pristine crystal surface will "sparkle", and the more sparkles you see, the more perfect the snowflakes falling generally are. I doubt you'd see many of these in the sparkle, if only because it is so incredibly rare. The large, broad-branched dendrite snowflakes usually give that field of sparkles. :) I'm really happy that images like this captivate you, and it's always a thrill when I find something like this out in the stormy weather. I panic a little, because a tiny gust of wind could make this snowflake disappear forever before I get a chance to photograph it!

+Stephen Shankland absolutely, and a lot of eight-sided designs from paper snowflakes too. :)

Thanks so much +Margrethe og Steffen Madsen JW. Denmark, +Janmat Sandesh, +Nicole Lendman, +Jonathan Baker, +Diana Boyd and +Darlene Greene! It's amazing how much snowflakes can look like cut gems, especially the crystals that have yet to form proper branches.

Hah, thanks +Steven Spence - something like this does bend my imagination to try and figure out some theoretical physics made into a practical form... makes my head hurt!

+Sonya Harriet I never would have thought a snowflake could look like this either! Yet here we are, five years into my daily series and still finding things that are completely unique!

Thanks for the compliment as well +Pamela Drummond! Of the gazillions more to discover, I hope even a handful of them will be as curiously captivating as this one. :)
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Snowflake-a-Day #96
I love coming across crystals like this: a column-type snowflake that grows plates from either end, and those plates in turn grow into branches. View large and check out the details!
 
This type of growth transition is not uncommon. “Capped column” snowflakes are the way many snowflakes start, however in most cases the initial column is so small that the two resulting plates are growing very close to each-other, making the column mostly invisible to the structure. Not here! If the right conditions, a column snowflake can grow quite large (relatively), pushing beyond the 1mm marker in length. If temperature and humidity change to favour plate-like growth, what’s a snowflake to do?
 
The growth conditions did not shift radically. They shifted enough to create branches, but those branches remained broad and well defined along 60 degree angles. The branches also appear to be incredibly thick compared to what you might find on a “regular” snowflake. There are signs that this extra thickness is only happening at the outer edges, as if the snowflake is returning to a column-type growth pattern in these areas. This shift from column-to-plate and plate-to-column growth is uncommon to find in the same crystal, though I usually come across it a few times a year around the edges of the winter season.
 
The center of the column might be partially hollow, as you can see some growth closing in on the center at the top, sealing it in. You can also see the same physics at work on the bottom left branch. Notice the oval shape on the edge? This is caused when part of the crystal facet is receiving fewer building blocks, almost always the inner areas. Based on the logic that a snowflake grows fastest in the areas where it has the greatest access to water vapour, it will also grow the slowest in areas with less access. Corners grow fastest (this is where branches form), and the inner areas grow the slowest (this is where bubbles are formed inside the ice).
 
Because these snowflakes usually form at temperatures hovering just under the freezing point of water, and because of their “volumetric” character, they can be very difficult to properly photograph. Many images are required in the focus stacking process (roughly 50 in this case) and the shots need to be taken in extremely quick succession as the crystal is actively melting from the light of the flash. Thankfully, I’ve faced this challenge a few times before and I’ve learned how to work quickly enough while handholding the camera to get the needed images.
 
This is not the only kind of “exotic” snowflake. There are many more detailed within the pages of Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - if you don’t own a copy already, you should absolutely check it out. :)
 
I’ve also put hundreds of my snowflake images into a print titled (simply), “The Snowflake”: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - to visualize what beauty winter is capable of on such a small scale, it’s worth a look. All of the snowflakes are accurately measured and placed in relative size to one another!
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welcome!☺,thankyou(^-^)/(*_*)
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Finally, spring is here! Photographers put off by the cold can now enjoy shooting all the tiny wonders than come along with warm weather… and I’m teaching a course at Georgian College on Macro Photography!

The course is three weeks long with an in-the-field element, and with a cost of $143.28 it’s a great way to learn a totally new photographic skillset, or brush up on techniques that have become rusty over the winter!

The course runs from May 18th to June 1st at the Barrie campus of Georgian College. If you’re local to the area, you should definitely check it out!

http://www.georgianc.on.ca/coned09/coursescertificates/?p_subj_code=PHTO&p_crse_numb=0063&p_title=Macro+Photography&f=display_outline
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Fantastic, thanks +Jane Petrtyl! See you there!
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Vibrant Crystal
So, it continues to snow. Trying to make the most of this dismal spring, I have begun exploring the “other” way to photograph snowflakes: using backlighting on glass. View large!

“Transmitted light” is the microscopy term for light coming from behind your subject, passing through it and interacting with it to reveal your image. This is the way snowflakes have been photographed for well over a century, and only with modern cameras and software has “reflected light” images been made possible (which is what all of my other snowflakes consist of). Still, there can be great allure in the photographic beauty this older technique produces!

Colourized light will interact with the crystal differently, highlighting different hues on the facets and contours of the crystal. The colour is not applied in post-processing, as such a technique would not show the complex interactions you see in the crystal where the two colours meet. Instead, a coloured filter is placed over my flash that has many transitions of hues.

This coloured filter uses the principles of birefringence to create the colour. Bire-what? It’s a colourful bit of physics that can be easily created by putting two polarizing filters in opposition to one another, and in between them put a piece of cheap plastic. You can read more about the phenomenon here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birefringence - highly technical, sure… but the effect makes for a great vari-colour filter for my photographic experiments.

The snowflake is on a microscope slide, and my wireless flash is positioned directly behind it. While this could easily be done on a tripod, I opted to stick with what I know and shoot this handheld. Because the snowflake can appear flat to the camera, focus stacking is not required. Only one frame was used to create this image.

Since my “The Snowflake” poster is complete I feel I can switch up my shooting techniques as I no longer need consistent results. This initial experiment has given me a ton of ideas to work with next year, marrying different techniques and approaches together for some truly unique creations. What about shooting these on an angle, with a combination of front-lighting and backlighting?

The results are less “scientific” than my regular snowflakes, but the aesthetic quality is certainly eye-catching. With my current snowflake projects completed, next winter my creativity will be unchained. :)

For my book on the science and photography of snowflakes, check out Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - 304 page book with more than you could have imagined to know about these winter gems.

For my print “The Snowflake” which took over 2500 hours to produce, go here: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - worth the look, you can easily get lost in the details!

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Illuminated Ice
We recently had an ice storm pass through the region that knocked out power to many people. This can be a huge disaster, and my thoughts go out to those people who have spent days in the dark with fridges full of now-spoiled food. The side benefit of ice storms? They can be a photographer’s playground. View large!

I had the idea to do this after I drove around town looking for an interesting composition. Against a grey overcast sky, there really wasn’t much that jumped out at me. There was a sense of chaos and sadness in the old trees split into pieces under the weight of the ice, but that wasn’t the beauty I was searching for. If only there were clear skies! Thankfully, I was in luck: by nightfall, the skies would clear and there was an opportunity to play with the stars.

The opportunity was a brief one, however. The moon would be rising, nearly full, at the same time the skies darkened. I was able to take advantage of this narrow slice of time to create this image. If there was no moon, the stars would be much more distinct, but I feel the image still achieves its goal: vibrantly shining ice on the trees with great contrast and an almost magical feel to it.

The secret ingredient here is backlighting. I walked to the other side of the tree, maybe 150 meters or so away, and placed a bright wide-beam flashlight on the ground, pointing up at the tree. This was photographed in a nearby farmer’s field, where coyotes were actively running about (we saw them almost immediately when I returned to the car). Heading back to the front of the tree cluster, I set up the camera with a fisheye lens to get the perspective you see here.

Because of the ice-covered landscape, I needed to land each footstep with force to fracture the surface of the ice/snow and get good traction for the next step. One of these footsteps failed to land properly, sending me with the same force down onto the icy field. There are a few tender spots on my left leg as a result, but it was definitely worth the pain. On the mend now, and the swelling has gone down. :)

I love moments like this, because they force me to act on my creative ideas. I couldn’t put this off another day, as the warm weather this afternoon has completely destroyed all of the ice. There was one night to capture this, so I couldn’t say “I’ll do it tomorrow” and procrastinate. Just when I think winter is over, I find another image to share with you all.

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Thanks very much +Regina Bochenek!
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Snowflake-a-Day #100
The final image for this series is a bit of a departure, but I find that fitting. This is a rare find, a cluster of needle and column-type crystals that all fell together as a single clump. Infinite complexity and detail, this has been by far the most difficult image in this series to present to you. Because the details are so small, do me a favour and view large!
 
I don’t even want to attempt to accurately count how many snowflakes are in this frame. If I had to guess, I’d say 100, which makes this an even more suitable image the finale of this year’s series. I usually try to isolate a single snowflake, but this massive cluster was just too much to pass up. The challenges here were huge, but I’m glad I could come up with a successful image.
 
These types of snowflakes form at temperatures just around the freezing point, so photographing them becomes a huge challenge as they are often melting during the photographic process. In this instance, I was lucky; the temperature on the ground was slightly colder than the temperature in the air (this is uncommon), allowing the crystals to stay “static” long enough for me to photograph them. Just because the crystals aren’t changing, doesn’t mean the rest of the process is an easy one!
 
One of the biggest challenges in focus stacking has to do with depth. Exactly at the point where two edges at sufficiently different distances from the cameras meet, most focus stacking algorithms have a problem. The automatic process results in blurry edges in these areas, and that requires manual corrections. These corrections are applied through the use of layer masks on a separate set of focus stacking layers to paint in the proper edge connections, and this image is pretty much entirely edges. Snowflake are also transparent which confuses the heck out of the software as well!
 
Roughly 50 images were used in the focus stacking process, but putting them together properly took over 30 hours. This is the most time I have ever spent on a single focus-stacked image, and I hope you agree that it was worth the effort.
 
I know a lot of people are sad to see the series end, but hopefully an image like this makes it feel like a new beginning! :)
 
If you enjoy the effort that I put into this series, you’ll want to check out two things:
Sky Crystals: Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes is a 304pg hardcover book that dives into the science and photography of snowflakes in wonderful ways: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - great for anyone with an interest in photography or natural science!
 
“The Snowflake” is a photographic print consisting of more than 2500 hours of work across five years: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - all these snowflakes are measured and scaled to relative size to one another, something you really need to see!
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Snowflake-a-Day #98
As spring is in the air, I thought it would be appropriate to share another flower-like snowflake before the series ends. Temps going into the double digits (Celsius) here over the next few days, winter has given up the fight… but there are still a few more snowflakes to share! View large!
 
If you’ve followed this series through the winter, some of what I’m going to say might be repetitious. However, I’m not sure we’ve seen the same combination of snowflake “ingredients” before, so bear with me. :)
 
The very center of the snowflake holds my interest because it’s elongated. The “turtle” shape is caused by aerodynamics; if a snowflake falls in such a way that one side or a portion of the crystal receives more water vapour that other sides, we end up with triangular, trapezoidal, or elongated shapes like this. This evens out as the branches grow further, but there is always an echo that can be seen. The brighter area in the center? Those in-the-know will identify that as a bubble in the ice, allowing more reflective layers and brighter features.
 
The larger hexagonal shape is a design often called a “sectored plate”, which describes a hexagonal snowflake that has changed its mind. Branches formed, but they’ve grown so close together that they essentially form a hexagonal shape. This persists until the fully-fledged branches poke out of the corners, something that will always happen given enough time. The further away the growth gets from the center, the less likely it is to hold a purely hexagonal outer footprint.
 
There are a few addition features that make this snowflake feel flower-like. The rounded contours near the center are caused by inward crystal growth, which happens when a thicker outer ridge gives the snowflake an ability to “fill in” its thickness back towards the thinner center. These rounded petals are quite flower-like, with the tiny dots around the central area (many just beyond the inner hexagon) appearing similar to pollen. These dots are actually tiny bubbles, and can be seen throughout the snowflake if you look closely.
 
This series always starts on December 1st and ends 100 days from there. We’re nearing the end, but I’ve still got some surprises in store! :)
 
If you enjoy my work with snowflakes through this series, you’ll absolutely love my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - it’s full of “conversational science” that will allow you to explore the universe at your feet, and in the clouds. It also has a complete photographic tutorial that describes how these images are created, and how to make them for yourself!
 
If you simply enjoy the beauty of these images and want them on your wall, I’d recommend that you check out “The Snowflake” print: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - there is a synergistic quality found when you put over 400 crystals together and scale them to proper proportions to one another. Take a look!
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Love it all you do it nice really
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Frost Lantern
A totally new twist on a freezing soap bubble, and a very difficult experiment to pull off. This bubble is a very special creation, consisting of ultraviolet fluorescing liquid and lit exclusively with ultraviolet light. Say what? View large!
 
I’ve had this idea for over a year: to modify a camera flash to emit only UV light, and to use that on a freezing soap bubble to make it look like there was no visible light source. It looks like the light is emanating from the crystal itself, but there were many failures along the way.
 
The first thing I needed was a UV flash. By nature, most camera flashes (those based on xenon flash tubes) emit UV light. However, this light is absorbed by a filter so that it doesn’t escape when the flash is fired. This is generally useful as you don’t want to give a sunburn to your retinas, but the flash needs to be modified to remove this filter. I used a cheap Vivitar 285HV flash for this, so I wasn’t worried about destroying expensive equipment. Removing the UV blocking / absorbing filter turned the flash into a full-spectrum flash, which then required a new filter: to only allow UV light to pass through.
 
This filter is a UV Black (403) filter, also found as a U-340 filter. It blocks visible light, but allows UV light to pass through. This is the opposite of what you would consider a standard UV filter, and is not a common piece of gear. Only really useful in UV reflective photography, it’s a fun obscure piece of gear that when placed in front of my full spectrum flash turns it into a UV flash! Just don’t look at it when it fires. :)
 
The bigger challenge was coming up with a solution that would fluoresce and crystallize properly. My initial attempts were to use special effect UV fluorescing bubble solution which is commercially available, but the effect wasn’t pronounced enough. I tried adding highly UV-reactive powder (designed as pigment in some paints), but it wouldn’t mix with the bubble fluid and refused to form proper crystals. These were experimented with during various nights when temperatures were between -10C and -20C with zero wind, while I was playing with other freezing bubble techniques. All of the initial attempts were met with failure.
 
I finally found a formula that would work. Replacing the water in my soap bubble recipe, I used a bottle of invisible ink designed for use in fountain pens. It mixed well with the soap and corn syrup to create a homogeneous fluid that also froze in beautiful frost fronds. When the light from my flash (invisible to our eyes) hit the bubble, the light returned to the camera was a ghostly blue. Because the only visible light was reflected off of the bubble and not the surrounding snow, it makes the snow glow as if the frost is the source of the light. Hence the name “Frost Lantern”.
 
This image was made in the early hours of this morning when the temperature was hovering around -12 / -13C, and I knew this would be my last chance this winter. We will barely have sub-zero temps through the rest of March, but the ideas are already flowing to push this experiment even further next year. :)
 
My work in winter macro photography often gets technical, but I think this takes the cake! For information on my work with snowflakes, check out Sky Crystals (book): https://skycrystals.ca/book/ for physics and photography techniques. There is no section for soap bubbles, but expect an e-book at some point in the future on this topic. Hopefully in time for next winter!
 
If you love winter, you’ll also love “The Snowflake” print: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - taking over 2500 hours to produce, it’s worth a few moments of your imagination as well.
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Simon Fuhrmann's profile photoJanet Smeltzer's profile photoDon Komarechka's profile photo
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Glad you like it, +Janet Smeltzer! I'm thrilled how well this experiment turned out, and it has sparked a bunch of new ideas. :)
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Turn knobs, press buttons, and take pictures.
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  • Georgian College
    Part-time Faculty, 2010 - present
  • Don Komarechka Photography
    Owner / Photographer, 2008 - present
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barrie, ontario - sudbury, ontario
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Nature & Landscape Photographer, Teacher, gadget geek. :)
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    Advertising, 2007 - 2009
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donkom
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