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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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Snowflake-a-Day #75
This crystal has a few curious triangular features, which balance out at it grows, but the overall central triangle has a lasting impact on the entire structure. Be sure to view large!
 
The very center of this snowflake is a bit of an enigma. It’s a mystery I’ve seen before, but can’t properly explain. The triangle in the center is casting a shadow on the rear surface of the ice, because it’s a bubble. It’s a cavity in the ice, which can be easily explained in any position besides the absolute center. I need the consultation of a physicist on this one, because I can’t understand how this happens.
 
Bubbles form where the thin edge of a snowflake can grow at different rates. Out outer edges have more access to water vapour than the inside of the thin facet, so the inside area grows slower. This creates a small cavity in the ice, which can grow larger or close itself off. You see these bubbles all over the branches, and rippling just right of the very center. Because this method of bubble growth requires a solid piece of ice to begin with, the model breaks down when we find a bubble at the very center of a snowflake. It’s a real head-scratcher!
 
The triangular shape is not unheard of in the world of snowflakes. Reformed triangular shapes like this can be seen in abundance given the right conditions, but it’s still a bit of a rarity. It’s a densely scientific read, but if you’re curious about the aerodynamic principals that create triangular crystals, there was a great paper written about them by Ken Libbrecht: http://arxiv.org/abs/0911.4267 - this doesn’t explain a triangular bubble however!


The central triangular shape gives way to more equal growth; the inner plate has three-fold symmetry, with alternating sides being of equal length. The difference in the length of the sides begin to even out, but the original triangular shape echoes all the way to the tips of the branches.
 
The branches are separated into three groups of two, really showcasing the three-fold symmetry created in the snowflake’s infancy. The conditions remained incredibly stable, allowing for each pair to have very similar features. It does give it a slight resemblance to a Cylon Base Star, which only makes it more impressive. :)
 
To discover the mysteries of snowflakes with a scientific approach to finding answers, check out my book Sky Crystals: Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - the 304 page book has a comprehensive photographic tutorial, tons of easy-to-read science and a huge image gallery that can be enjoyed without reading a single word.
 
“The Snowflake” is a photographic print consisting of over 400 crystal captured across five years with 2500 hours of work: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - all for a single image. I hope that amount of effort makes you curious enough to give it a quick glance!
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Awesome 
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Snowflake-a-Day #73
This crystal has a classic appeal, but more “modern” features, if you can call them that. Snowflakes like this have been falling for millions if not billions of years, yet there is something refreshing about the design. Be sure to view large!
 
The very center of this snowflake shows a central column, but it connects to a secondary plate-like crystal on the opposite side of the snowflake. You can see the outline of this plate faintly, but it’s obscured by the ice in front of it. If time permits, I’ll share an image later in the series of the same snowflake of similar design photographed from both sides – something I have never done before.
 
Interesting bubbles radiate from the center. It’s hard to describe exactly how these form, as they seem to start on either side of the corner. This is oddly typical, as we often see dual “runners” down the branches of a snowflake. It’s only dawning on me now that these are bubbles and not the contours of ridges that carry on from the center through the main outward growth of the branches. Why would bubbles grow in stable straight lines just off-center from the corners? I’m not sure. In moments like this I wish I was a physicist!
 
The very tip of each branch showcases another unique structure caused by bubbles; the snowflake splits itself in two. If a bubble forms near the corner, and encompasses the corner, you have an interesting scenario: the snowflake has now become two separate plates in this region. Like a capped column, these plates compete for water vapour and if one grows beyond the footprint of the other, to the victor go the spoils. The winner of this battle is able to collect more water vapour than the loser, accelerating the growth.
 
The odds were stacked in the favour of the bottom half of the crystal, as each bottom “split” grew out faster. This could be due to the direction of wind hitting the bottom of the snowflake, or potentially the “knife-edge instability” if the bubble wasn’t growing perfectly in the middle of the snowflake. There’s too much physics involved to describe that instability, but a quick Google search can yield some interesting results. :)
 
Broad and simple branches can still be beautiful. They hide untold detail, but at first glance appear simple and symmetrical. The true nature of snowflakes is always a joy to explore, so long as you have a curious mind.
 
Satisfy that curiosity with a copy of Sky Crystals: Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - a 304 page hardcover book filled with physics, photography, and the beauty of the world we ignore.
 
To see that beauty in a single image, you need to give at least a passing glance to “The Snowflake” print: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - it took over 2500 hours across five years to produce this print. I ask a few seconds of your time to enjoy it. :)
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Beautiful - thanks for sharing
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Snowflake-a-Day #71
 
You can almost consider this snowflake the baby sister to yesterday’s crystal. This snowflake fell early this morning among a few other interesting plate-like crystals, and it’s even better when you view large!
 
Much of the snow that was falling this morning wasn’t very “clean”. If you notice the multitude of small circular shapes just outside of the center, these are caused by collisions with water droplets. After the snowflake formed, it passed through a layer of air that contained these droplets which froze on impact. There are some indications that parts of this snowflake were sheltered by other snowflakes, resulting in the center still being clear. The “rime” (that’s what these circles are called) also only appears to be on the rear side of the crystal, allowing me to create an image with fewer distractions.
 
The darker shape in the center of this snowflake is solid ice, and the pink area forms where there is a bubble at just the right thickness. You can see a reflection of this bubble cast onto the back of the snowflake as an offset outline, showing this transition from solid ice to a cavity between two layers. The mystery in yesterday’s snowflakes was this this solid area was not present or identifiable in any way.
 
This snowflake is sub-1mm in size. These tiny snowflakes are photographed at extreme magnifications that push up against the resolution of light itself. Higher magnification or a higher resolution sensor would not provide any additional detail, due to light diffraction in the lens. This was photographed at 12:1 magnification, 12 times closer than the average macro lens gets. For a great description of why this happens, check out these pages of Sky Crystals: http://skycrystals.ca/pages/diffraction-pages.jpg - even when shooting at F/2.8, the effective aperture isn’t wide enough to prevent diffraction from blurring the image.
 
One of the biggest challenges with photographing a snowflake like this is finding it in the viewfinder. With no frame of reference, it can be near impossible to locate. My solution is to use a small paintbrush to either place a large clump of snow next to it, or to use the handle of the paintbrush itself as a guide. If I see either of these larger objects in the viewfinder, I can use them as a reference and locate the snowflake I’m searching for… entirely handheld. :)
 
If you love puzzles and figuring out how things work, you’ll love the science content in my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - it also contains the full photographic tutorial I use to create all my snowflake images. At 304 pages, it’s packed full of content.
 
If you’re more visual, please do me a favour and take a look at “The Snowflake” print. It sums up why I’m so captivated by the subject: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - 2500 hours of work into a single image. I’ve been slowly losing my sanity one snowflake at a time! :)
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Brilla cristalino
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Snowflake-a-Day #69
Imagine this snowflake as a “baby”: early branching with extremely straight features in a unique stellar crystal. Things changed quite a bit when side-branches began to appear, and the real magic is in the details that you need to view large to see!
 
This is an oddly-shaped snowflake in many ways. The large blocky branch tips seem to indicate slower stable growth, but the multitude of side-branches and asymmetry tell a story of chaos. This snowflake is a bit of an enigma, and features some structures that are hard to find in these sky sculptures.
 
One of these features can be called “butterfly branches”. You’ll notice (particularly at the top) that some branches are growing backwards, coupled with the forward-growing branches can appear almost like butterfly wings. These backward-growing branches are actually side-side-branches, where they started to form as soon as the side-branches began to grow. Their larger size would require sufficient water vapour, as well as room to grow, which this snowflake was able to provide. Branching events can occur in quick succession what will allow for this kind of shape to form, but you don’t always see it so clearly.
 
You might notice a few “ripple” patterns, particularly in the broadest areas of the branches. These lines are surface contours on the opposite side of the snowflake, caused by the crystal growing backwards in a different way. The snowflake is growing inward towards the center of ripple, originating from the outer edge of the branch. It might be difficult to visualize this, so here’s some pages of Sky Crystals that give a great explanation: http://skycrystals.ca/pages/circles-in-the-snow.jpg
 
Prisms of colour, ripples of depth, butterfly branches and two-fold symmetry. This snowflake is quite unique! All snowflakes are different, but some stand out. You’ll notice that the bottom branch has very little side-branch growth, stifled by the growth of side-branches on the neighbouring primary branches. I can’t say why this happened, but there wasn’t enough room. The best suggestion would be that something stunted the growth of the bottom branch, and when side-branches were supposed to start growing, they were already in the shadow of faster-growing branches elsewhere.
 
There is a galaxy of detail in every snowflake, and a universe of detail in every snowfall. We can see features and details on such a small level, making even a snowflake measuring a few millimeters across a masterpiece of everyday physics. For more scientific curiosities and musings regarding snowflakes, and a full (and very comprehensive) tutorial on snowflake photography, grab a copy of Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - 304 page hardcover.
 
For the best snowflake print ever made (said with my own personal bias), click to take a look at “The Snowflake”: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - 2500 hours of work across five years to make this possible. At the very least, it’s worth pondering for a moment!
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Thanks +Edna Dantas!

Thanks too +Duke Beasley! The branches are all coming from a very small central hexagon, likely degraded due to sublimation at this stage, making it difficult to see. Glad you appreciate the book pages that I link to! Saves me from typing out longer descriptions, and gives you a taste of the content of the book too! :)
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Snowflake-a-Day #67
The long and slender branches of this snowflake are not very common, which makes this crystal stand out at first glance. When you take a look at the center however, you catch a glimpse of something a bit more fascinating. View large!
 
The center “gem” of this snowflake reveals colours caused by thin film interference. This is the phenomenon that puts rainbows in soap bubbles, and it’s caused by interactions between thin layers of ice and air. For a great explanation, go here: http://skycrystals.ca/pages/optical-interference-pages.jpg However, the pattern and placement of these colours seems to indicate a slightly different set of variables.
 
The way I usually describe it, a thin layer of ice allows for light to become out of phase with reflections off of multiple surfaces to create constructive and destructive interference. The radiating waves of colour show a progressive and smooth transition that would be difficult to create through normal bubble / cavity development. I propose that the space between two layers of ice (two plates) has begun to sublimate, with the evaporation of ice creating a smoother contour which generates cascading colours usually seen in fluid examples of them phenomenon.
 
Usually sublimation means a snowflake has begun to fade away, as you can see on the tips of this crystal. This is a perfect example as to how sublimation can add to the depth of the beauty of the snowflake! The evaporation of a crystal can happen even while it’s still growing outward, too – the inner areas always received less water vapour, and an open cavity between two plates is the worst place to collect new building blocks. In these areas, a snowflake can be sculpted by the lack of humidity.
 
So much to say about such a tiny feature of tiny snowflake. There is a universe of detail in each crystal, and it’s always entertaining to think that designs similar to this have been created in our skies for millions of years before mankind evolved. The snowflake is truly timeless.
 
For more musings and a curious scientific look at snow from the perspective of a photographer, do me a favour and check out the book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - it’s no small book, full of excellent content and beautiful images. Ask anyone who owns a copy and you’ll know it should belong on your bookshelf!
 
If you don’t have a bookshelf, but some wall space? “The Snowflake” is a print that took me 2500 hours to produce over five years. Very few photographic projects can be summed up in a single image with that much effort: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - and I’m thrilled with the results!
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I see God in every image. 
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Snowflake-a-Day #65
This a special image, depicting a few features hard to visualize in a single snowflake. This pair of crystals attached together at some point in their lives and wouldn’t let go. View large to pull this mystery apart!
 
Snowflake grow the fastest where there is the greatest access to water vapour. The corners of a hexagon stick out further than the side, so this is where branches form. When part a snowflake is starved of new building blocks, the growth in that area slows. This provides the perfect evidence that these two snowflakes were not simply found side-by-side, but they are a perfect fit for each-other.
 
These two crystals are connected in two small places, which is an interesting phenomenon. The branches didn’t stick together by getting caught in each-others side-branches like Velcro, it appears more like they are glues together based on the surfaces somehow fusing. This is made even more odd by the colder temperatures that these snowflakes formed in. This is the biggest mystery in this snowflake. How did these two snowflakes collide and stick? I’m happy to leave that one an enigma for now. :)
 
Where these two snowflakes attach, you can clearly see that the growth of the branches is stunted. This makes sense based on simple logic of access to building blocks. In this area, there is less available water vapour compared to the outer branches, and there is only so much room to grow. Science!
 
You’ll also notice a small baby snowflake nestled in the branches of the right crystal, featuring beautiful features like symmetry and vibrant colours caused by thin film interference. A true snowflake family, with the baby being far cuter than the parents!
 
This has been the most time-consuming snowflake to edit this year. 60 frames and a ton of alignment challenges in a complicated focus stacking process resulted in most of today being dedicated to bringing you this snowflake. The record for focus stacking from me is 70 frames in total, but this was every bit as challenging.
 
If discovering and understanding these physics mysteries is interesting to you, or if you’d love to discover this first-hand with your camera, you need a copy of Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - this book is an excellent resource for any photographer or science-minded curious person!
 
“The Snowflake” print has a number of these snowflake pair images included in the 400 crystals spread across the print, all scaled in relative size to one another. Check that print out here: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - I’m certain it’ll amaze children and adults alike!
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Thanks +Diana Boyd! I had to do at least one "double" this season, regardless of how much extra effort it takes. :)
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Snowflake-a-Day #74
The smaller a snowflake is, the more beautiful its geometry becomes. Lines spread unbroken further across the image and a radiating effect brings it all together. Of course, there are details worth viewing large for!
 
This snowflake is a great example of a reformed plate. Branches grow from the corners of a hexagon when the conditions are right, but what if those conditions existed only for a very brief moment? The branches would have sprouted, but they don’t conform to standard branch growth. They stay broad and blocky, revealing an outwardly hexagonal shape. There is even evidence that there branches are fusing back together the closer you get to the center of the crystal.
 
Proper branching eventually happened, but it occurred very close to the end of this snowflake’s growth period. So close in fact that the snowflake may have started falling to provoke these branches to form. If the crystal began to fall to Earth, it would likely pass through slightly different layers of clouds with shifts in temperature and humidity. I can’t prove it, but I think these outer branches might have formed during the descent. I’ve seen many snowflakes that showcase shifts in growth patterns just at the tips of the branches, and this is the most likely explanation.
 
This tiny sky sculpture also has an artistic center, with a splash of colour created by thin film interference and a bubble. It’s important to note exactly how small this feature is: If you were to measure this bubble, it would be roughly a tenth of a millimeter across and a tiny fractal of that in thickness. The features we admire on these gems are so small, we could never hope to see them with our own eyes.
 
Many of you have been enjoying this series so far, and I thank you very much for that. If you read and enjoy these posts, then consider picking up a copy of my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - you’ll love the book, and you’ll also support my continuing work with this subject, now into its sixth year!
 
If a book isn’t your thing, but you’d love to show off this work and have conversations about it, grab a copy of “The Snowflake” print: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - over 400 of these snowflakes all scaled in relative size to one another to really get a feel for the beauty of these crystals at all sizes!
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Gorgeous capture my friend, it almost looks like a flower. =0)
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Snowflake-a-Day #72
In what might resemble some psychic alien eyeball inside this snowflake, we’ve got a unique example of what happens when bubbles form inside the ice. Thin film interference adds some crazy colours that are difficult to miss. Even still, you should view large!
 
The patterns created in the center are a bit of a mystery (and I enjoy pointing out and trying to solve these mysteries). Keep in mind that while they look like they are spilling into the center, they are actually growing out from it. They are created by bubbles in the ice that are shifting their positions as they grow outward. What could cause this?
 
I’m not entirely sure; I’ve seen the pattern before, and it has always perplexed me in some ways. One could imagine that the opening of the cavity of ice could shift based on the wind flow against the edge of the crystal. This would make sense just right of center, where you see multiple “tentacles” moving in the same direction. Each side would receive slightly different directions of wind, even though the outward build-up is still uniform to create a stable hexagonal shape.
 
The area of radiating colour beyond these tentacles is called when the thickness of the cavity / bubble in the ice begins to change. This in turn creates a different phase offset of the light rays bouncing off of multiple ice/air boundaries, creating a different interference pattern and thereby different colours. Not all bubbles create this kind of interference, mind you; the thickness needs to fall within a narrow window. Thankfully, we’ve had the right kind of conditions to create colourful snowflakes this week! And more to come I’m sure!
 
The side-branches have begun to fuse together to create the appearance of a larger hexagonal center, and the branches beyond that show an unusual stability to their growth. They are slightly offset in length, but with very clean edges. These conditions are rare in nature, but that’s what I’m seeking out: the rarest snowflakes that showcase the unseen beauty of winter.
 
I’ve spent most of today photographing snowflakes. The snowfall as I write this is too heavy and the temperatures have grown too cold to yield interesting (read: beautiful) results, so I’m back inside finishing up today’s snowflake post. I’m starting to select the final 10 snowflakes for this series, and trust me: you will be blown away. This snowflake is nothing compared to what I have in store. :)
 
If you’ve been enjoying this series, you’ll love my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - it chronicles the mysteries of snowflakes by explaining (in easy ways) the physics that creates them. The book was also designed for photographers who want to replicate these results and see for themselves how fascinating the universe in the clouds can be. 394 page hardcover, and looks great on your shelf!
 
What happens when you combine 400 of these enigmatic crystals into a single image with thousands of hours of effort? You get “The Snowflake” print: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - looks absolutely stunning on your wall, and you will start some interesting conversations over it. All snowflakes are measured and scaled accurately to be in relative size to one another. It’s worth a look!
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Haha +Elizabeth Hahn, I can see that. I'd probably come up with similar results!

+Sarah Marstaller it does feel rather mechanical, doesn't it?

Thanks very much +Diana Boyd and +Nico Nick! Still many more to come!

Thanks +Krzysztof Felczak, I've done this enough times to capture snowflake in the best light, but I still keep finding new and interesting things!

Cool, +Robert! I've photographed some that resemble maple leaves, trees, and wings. :)

Thanks +Marie, LMB, it's the center that caught my attention on this one. Without it, it would just be "another snowflake" that I overlook because I've photographed so many similar crystals in the past. I find myself being much more picky this year!
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Snowflake-a-Day #70
Okay, this one raises an eyebrow but brings some beautiful thoughts along with it. The enigmatic center and the broad branches? Take a closer look and view large!
 
The center of this snowflake is the most interesting. I’ve documented the effects of thin film interference in snowflakes many times, and it can create vibrant colours when the thickness of ice and air are just perfect. Like a soap bubble, rainbows of colour can be seen and you can find a great description of the effect here: http://skycrystals.ca/pages/optical-interference-pages.jpg
 
This center can’t follow the standard logic, however. The part I can’t explain is the very center, it makes no sense.
 
Usually, a circle in the center of a central hexagon shape indicates that a column-type crystal grew into two plate-type crystals, commonly called a “capped column”, which they grew into a full-fledged snowflake. The circle at the center represents the initial column, a solid piece of ice. If this were a solid piece of ice, it would be impossible for thin film interference to generate colours. An air gap would be required. Since it wouldn’t make sense for there to be an air gap (effectively detaching the column), I can’t give a reason for the colours here. Maybe an actual physicist has some ideas?
 
The growth of the left-most branch was stunted when it came in contact with another snowflake that stuck to the main crystal. This interesting three-branched snowflake continued to grow, but stopped access to water vapour from growing the left branch further. The same may have been true to different degrees on the other left branches, or this hitchhiker could have simply changed the aerodynamics of the snowflake and let the right side face the oncoming wind more strongly.
 
We have had very few colourful snowflakes fall this year, and I’m always thrilled to capture snowflakes like this. The colour is usually focused around a central hexagon, and we’ve yet to get a consistent snowfall of small colourful hexagonal crystals; we only had one such snowfall last year. One month to go in the series, let’s hope I can find more of them!
 
The pages linked above are some of the science pages in my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - which details the beautiful physics of snow, and provides a comprehensive tutorial for photographers wishing to achieve the same results. Pick up a copy and make the last month of winter much more tolerable!
 
I’ve spend thousands of hours working with snowflakes. The collective work has been compiled into a single imaged titled “The Snowflake”, which can be seen and purchased here: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - over 400 crystals all scaled to relative size to each-other, a feat never before accomplished, considering the average time spent on each photograph is four hours. :)
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Thanks +Theresia Swiebel and +Gran Dan! I imagine that man-made crystal facets (diamonds and precious gems) intent to mimic the beauty of crystal facets found in nature... that would include snowflakes!

Thanks +Marie, LMB! I love this style of snowflake branch, it just has so much depth!

Thanks +Nora Qudus! We are getting a TON of snow at the moment, and right now it isn't so beautiful, but I keep checking back! The conditions can change in a heartbeat to create more beautiful snowflakes... and you're right, most of them go entirely unnoticed.

Thanks +Diana Boyd! The colourful snowflakes are always the most magical... I might make a print with only my colourful snowflakes in it as well. :)
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Vibrant Ice
Soap bubbles in the process of freezing are fleeting, enigmatic, and almost magical subjects. View large!
 
Of course, ice is colourless. The colour here was part of an experiment using semi-random coloured filters in front of the bright flashlight that illuminated the bubble from behind. The filter was created by gluing squares of polarizing film in opposition to one another on either side of a cheap piece of plastic. The plastic was from a box of cotton swabs, but a CD case cover works just as well.
 
This is what you would call “dark field illumination”, a term that people looking through microscopes might recognize. The light source is behind the bubble, just out of the frame on top, angled down. This allows for the full effect of the light, but creates a dark background. If the light source was a little lower, it would take some of the magic away from the bubble.
 
These bubbles freeze solid in a few seconds. I’ll be doing more experiments with them in the coming week when temperatures drop again. Wish me luck! :)
 
For my work with snowflakes, visit https://skycrystals.ca/ - winter is an excellent time to take out your macro lens!
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+Don Komarechka You are most welcome, our pleasure! 
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Snowflake-a-Day #68
You’ll want to dive into the details in this one! Balanced branches with a geometric-yet-flower-like center, this snowflake is the quintessential crystal that our imagination might fixate on when we think of the word “snowflake”. View large!
 
This snowflake formed under very stable conditions, though even the most stable conditions cannot create a perfectly symmetrical snowflake. Each of the branches are different, but they fill roughly the same volume and grow to the same length. You can easily draw a straight line at the edge of some of the side-branches, making another virtual hexagonal shape. Symmetry abounds in imperfect ways!
 
The hexagon in the center however, is created by a “capped column” type snowflake leaving a smaller hexagonal plate near the center when the bottom plate produced the full branches. This is very common behaviour, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. It creates a brighter region due to two plates of ice having additional reflective surfaces, and the inner “organic” growth of the branches has a flower-like appeal.
 
I’ve never met a flower quite like this, but these snowflakes predate all plant life; they predate mankind and the evolution of mammals. Designs like this have been falling from the skies for many millions of years, and only within the last 130 years have we been able to admire them through photography.
 
My body of work with photographing snowflakes using reflected light is extensive and has only been explored successfully within the last decade. Previously, scientists studying snowflakes had deemed this style of photography “ineffective”, giving all attention to transmitted light. Using transmitted light, the light source would be behind the subject, interacting with the crystal as it passes through it (usually on a microscope slide). Using reflected light, the light source is in front of the subject, bouncing off the surface of the ice to reveal different features.
 
Each approach has their merits, but using reflected light like this takes much more effort. In order to get the light to reflect off the surface of the crystal, the snowflake needs to be photographed on an angle. This technique yields great results, but only for a tiny sliver / slice of focus. The entire snowflake cannot be in focus in a single image. This snowflake took 45 shots at different focus points to allow everything to be in focus from tip to tip.
 
That shooting technique has not been fully explored with the subject of snowflakes until I started my work with the subject. I wrote a book on it, titled Sky Crystals: Unravelling the Mysteries of Snowflakes that gives a full description of the photographic techniques, as well as the science of snowflakes you can directly observe through photography: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - a great ready for any photographer, snow lover or science-minded person!
 
This is my fifth year doing a complete marathon of snowflake images, and my sixth year photographing snowflakes. Hundreds of images have been made with thousands of hours of work, and it’s all distilled into a single image – “The Snowflake”: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - all of the snowflakes are measured and scaled in relative size to one another, a very tricky process that hasn’t been done to this extent ever before. More than worth a look!
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Thanks +Elizabeth Hahn! I never made the comparison to the eye of a hurricane, but I can see that! The dot is actually a column connecting two plates, and as such can be considered a wall of ice... it's not a bad comparison! :)

Thanks +Marie, LMB! The ridges and surface features are half of the beauty, and bubbles in the ice running along the branches fill in the rest. It's a great combination, and I'm glad you appreciate it!

Thanks very much +Duke Beasley, and there is still a month left in this series!

Thanks for saying so, +Nora Qudus! :)
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Don Komarechka

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Snowflake-a-Day #66
The geometry of snowflakes is always captivating, and it shows most beautifully at a very narrow angle of light. I think I found the best angle for this snowflake, and the confirmation is in the details. Be sure to view large!
 
Making a snowflake appear to have depth is a tricky task. Often times these crystals have surface details and layers of ice, but these features are invisible when using light straight on, or even transmitted from behind the crystal. The challenge is finding the proper angle to allow light to reflect off of some surfaces strongly, but have that reflection fade away when the contour of the ice surface shifts ever so slightly. This creates a sense of depth, which you can see prominently at the tips of the branches.
 
The darker center of the snowflake is solid ice, where the brighter area surround it is created with two separate layers of ice. This creates more reflective surfaces, and helps separate some features even further. It’s all about the angle of light!
 
In order to find that proper angle, I need to rotate the camera (and ring flash) around the snowflake as the center of rotation. This is not possible using a tripod, where the center of rotation would be wherever the tripod mounts to the camera or lens. For this reason, every one of my snowflake images is shot entirely handheld. That’s quite a challenge, and it’s part of the reason why the post-processing workflow is a little longer, but it’s absolutely necessary to find the right angle quickly.
 
The entire photographic workflow is detailed perfectly in my book Sky Crystals: https://skycrystals.ca/book/ - there are roughly 100 of the 304 pages dedicated to equipment, settings, techniques, and the entire post-processing workflow. We’ve got a cold snap coming soon, and conditions for more great snow to fall. Make the most of it!
 
I’ve been doing this for more than five years, producing hundreds of images that have taken thousands of hours to produce. At the beginning of this season, I put my collected snowflake work together into a single image, with all of the crystals scaled in relative size to one another. The print is called “The Snowflake”: https://skycrystals.ca/poster/ - and it will inspire you. :)
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Thanks +Marie, LMB! The upper left tip might have been covered by another snowflake, stunting its growth slightly. That's the most common cause when the asymmetry appears at the tips of the branches. :)

Hah +Sarah Marstaller, I go out and shoot every snowfall, and I have hundreds of unedited images. I could go straight through to next winter, but I'd lose my sanity in the process!

Thanks very much +Nora Qudus, and glad you're still enjoying the book! :)
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Don's Collections
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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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