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Mike Hendren
6,895 followers -
Colorado Photographer / Blogger / Writer - What I see is what You get.
Colorado Photographer / Blogger / Writer - What I see is what You get.

6,895 followers
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A sign that winter is here … +Don Komarechka is back at work doing incredible images of snowflakes. The flakes are amazing, and Don does some beautiful photos with fascinating explanations of how they are formed.
Enjoy!
First Snowfall
We’ve just received our first snowfall of the season, and I’d like to do something special, something I’ve never done before. This snowflake image is being released into the “Public Domain”. This snowflake goes out to the world, for any purpose anyone wishes. It’ll be a fun experiment to see where it ends up!

“Public Domain” means I give up all rights to the image. You are not required to credit me (though I’d like it if you would!), you can use the image for any commercial or non-commercial purpose what-so-ever. You can make and sell prints, put it on a coffee mug, or anything you can imagine. This is the only time I have ever placed an image in the public domain. Have fun with it!

This particular snowflake has plenty of detail and symmetry, making it an iconic symbol of winter. Very few snowflakes would rival this one in visual balance: radiating textures and complexity sealed within a much more simple outer shape. Many of these internal details are bubbles trapped in the ice, which happens when the top and bottom “edge” of a snowflake grow faster than the inner portion of the crystal. Whatever sticks out the farthest grows the fastest, which applies on many size scales for a snowflake – it’s also the reason why branches grow from each corner of a smaller hexagon shape.

You can see this hexagon shape in the center. This little “gem” is what remains of a pair of tiny hexagons that were connected by a center column, looking initially like a barbell. At warmer temperatures, snowflakes will grow into columns instead of plates, but if the temperature then drops, plates grow from either side of the column to get this shape… then the race is on! If one small hexagon grows faster than the other, its footprint would stick out farther than its rival. Once this happens, the larger hexagon will grow rapidly and leave the competition at the same size without access to more building blocks (water vapour) to grow. As the winning side grows outward, branches form and we get the classic snowflake shape with the right stable conditions.

A snowflake can “split” into new rival plates as well, which happens when a cavity in the ice grows large enough to encompass the entire end of a growing branch. This is all the same physics at play, and what allows for bubbles to form in the ice. Once the tip of a branch is split, they may continue to grow outward together for a time, but one side will always win over the other. This creates tiny “shelves” that can be seen where the largest side-branches in the snowflake appear. If you look closely, you can even see the top shelf casting a shadow on the underlying ice.

Amazingly complex structures form from simple water molecules attaching themselves together with the right conditions. Even two snowflakes growing in the same part of the same cloud will inherently be different, as even the tiniest change in humidity and temperature can make a big difference; these small changes echo out through the entire crystal as growth continues, amplifying the earlier history of the snowflake. If conditions are unstable, you often get very unbalanced / asymmetrical crystals – and this is by far the most common type of snowflake. To find well balanced and symmetrical snowflakes like this is not easy, but well worth the effort. And even by the time it lands in my home-made black mitten to be photographed, it has already started to evaporate back into thin air.

Such is the magic of winter.
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*Oops! Sounds like Sony may have tried to help us just a bit too much … a step too far … *
Well known atrophotographer, Ian Norman writes about a flaw introduced by the latest firmware updates to some top Sony cameras like the A7RII and A7SII.

#Sony
#astrophotography
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*Oops! Sounds like Sony may have tried to help us just a bit too much … a step too far … *
Well known atrophotographer, Ian Norman writes about a flaw introduced by the latest firmware updates to some top Sony cameras like the A7RII and A7SII.

#Sony
#astrophotography
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Really … Seriously? I got my first Olympus in May, 2012, and have wondered for five years why they didn't have the Super Control Panel and JPG SuperFine activated by default. Oh, and how about the Gear Menu … same thing. But now … after 5 years, Olympus "finally" sends out an email with these wonderful TIPS.
What do you think about it? :-)
#Olympus #Tips
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I'm completely mesmerized by the snowflake images from +Don Komarechka. He estimates that this incredible, tiny flake is less than 1mm across!
Snowflake-a-Day #60
This one goes out to my friends in the German Air Force, as the modern Luftwaffe uses a variation of the Iron Cross as their insignia. This snowflake is about as close as one can get to resembling that symbol, dating back hundreds of years. View large!

This is an unusually perfect example of a “bullet rosette” type snowflake, and there is more than meets the eye. In the very center, the top and bottom “bullets” are joined with a column, and there is a faint horizontal line separating them. This line signifies crystal twinning, where two crystals match the exact same footprint but do not conform to the same molecular bonds – this is a weak point called an evaporation groove where some molecules fly off. The horizontal bullets may have a similar feature, and I believe by pure luck did they stick together in this fashion.

Such luck is seen in 12-sided snowflakes that consist of two “normal” snowflakes that collide and stick together at exactly a 30-degree angle. It’s not common, but it does happen. So why can’t it happen with column-type crystals like this?

As the columns grow outward, they also have the ability to thicken because of greater access to water vapour in the air. What constrains them to their maximum diameter is currently unknown to me, but they seem happy to grow out to this thickness for some time before environmental variables change once again. A snowflake is rarely growing in static conditions in the atmosphere; what happens when it starts to fall to Earth?

I have often seen slightly different growth patterns at the edges of a snowflake. My logic tells me that if a snowflake begins to fall, it’s likely to enter an air mass with different properties before completely leaving the clouds. This can sometimes offer higher humidity, which in this case would shift the columnar growth into plate-like growth. These tiny plates on the ends of the bullets further extend the footprint outward at roughly the same rate that the curved ends of the Iron Cross possesses.

For those unfamiliar with the history ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Cross ), the symbol was first designed in 1813 by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia during the Napoleonic Wars. Through the centuries it has been a symbol of military decoration, particularly in Germany where it currently adorns many of the modern levels of the Badge of Honour. It is also the “roundel” of the German Air Force and flies on the side of every aircraft under their control.

I find it amazing that this snowflake could have formed a million times with slight variations across billions of years. Mankind has adopted it as a symbol of honour in some ways, but this design predates humanity. Anyone looking at this symbol should be amazed by the bravery of the person behind it, or amazed by the precise variables and unusual physics that create such a shape on a microscopic scale in the sky.

For more unusual snowflakes and how they form, as well as the fun physics and photography behind these images, check out Sky Crystals: https://www.skycrystals.ca/book/ - there is plenty of winter left to “enjoy” over here, and this book makes it all the more tolerable! :)
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Saw some nice light on a pool table … :-)

#X70
#monochrome
#blackandwhite
#Fujifilm
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NOT my photo, but what an Awesome image by +Brandon Hilder. In his blog, he explains how he created this final image.
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