Credit where credit is due! To my knowledge, Ken is the only guy to properly photograph the growth of snowflakes in timelapse video.
I photographed this incredibly bizarre snowflake yesterday and it instantly made the cut into the project. I haven't seen anything so beautifully displayed with these types of "exotic" crystal formations, view large to truly enjoy it! :)
There are three main types of snowflake formations here: columns, scrolls, and the seldom-seen "arrowhead" crystal. The bottom part of this structure would be a fairly standard column-type crystal with a hollow interior. These columns grow in fairly specific conditions, either near the freezing point at roughly -6 degrees or much colder, -25C and below. This entire formation was created during the colder temperatures.
The crystal to the left is very similar to a hollow column. If one of the sides of the column splits in half (likely due to the branching instability), growth can continue along this new edge. This growth will begin wrapping inward however, with each change in angle matching 60 degrees, the most common angle seen in snowflake growth. This creates a "scroll" design, which I've seen much more commonly in frost than in snowflakes: https://plus.google.com/111166628430361488384/posts/LvvjeYkn6NY
The third structure here in the upper right is probably the strangest. This is a perfect example of a single arrowhead, though they are sometimes found growing in repeating patterns. Arrowhead crystals are column-type snowflakes that have grown along the opposite facet to normal columns. A hexagonal prism is equipped with two hexagonal sides and size rectangular sides. If one of the rectangular sides had grown outward, this would be the result. Most examples have an arrowhead crystal attached to a column or bullet-style snowflake. It's also an example of crystal twinning, with the connecting point between the two crystals running on a diagonal in this picture.
And the icing on the cake? A tiny hexagonal plate that has stuck itself to the surface of the arrowhead. As I was shooting the frames needed to focus-stack this combined crystal, the heat from my flash began to melt the surface of the ice slightly. This was enough to create a closer interaction between the different layers of ice and generate thin film interference - the rainbow colours you see.
Just when you think the world of snowflakes can't get any more bizarre, this tiny creation shows up. :) To see a complete collection of the different types of snowflakes and how they form, check out Sky Crystals: http://www.skycrystals.ca/ - comments welcome!
- Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design
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