With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought this one by a fun pick for today’s snowflake. One of the most vibrant in terms of saturated colour I have ever seen, and incredibly fragile. View large!
This snowflake was one that fell yesterday, and one of the last crystals I was able to capture before the temperatures became too warm and the snow started to melt. You can see this one starting to fade away by looking at the textures underlying the pink area. There are two darker areas that intersect with the grey center that are clear indications of contact-point melting, where this snowflake was resting on two fibers from the black mitten it was photographed against. The other “scars” are from tossing the crystal around a little with my paint brush to get it at just the right angle to capture it.
There’s something magical when you have vibrant colours this bright. When moving the snowflake into a proper position, I was constantly seeing shimmers of pink when it faced certain angles. This has such a dynamic magic, but it puts the pressure on; I know the snowflake is incredibly special, but I’m working against the clock to try and capture it properly. If an extra minute goes by, how far gone will it be?
This is one of the reasons I work handheld with these subjects. It may take me 30 seconds to get the snowflake at the right angle, another 10 seconds to get the camera in position, and up to a minute to capture all of the necessary images. Less than two minutes on average for each snowflake, and when they’re falling in beautiful abundancy, I can capture many of them. Snowflakes like this might not be falling for long, and I’ve noticed many snowfalls that shift every 15 minutes or so to a new type of crystal formation. This storm quickly transitioned to “grauple”, which is little balls of ugly ice that have no discernible crystal structure. Get while the gettin’s good!
For those unfamiliar with how colour forms so vibrantly inside of a snowflake, here’s a page from my book on the subject with a great explanation: http://skycrystals.ca/img/optical-interference-pages.jpg
There will be many more colourful snowflakes coming. Two recent storms gave me plenty of material, but I’ll try not to go into colour overload. I’ll throw in some more “traditional” snowflakes as well, and maybe break the mold a few times with some incredibly unusual types of snowflakes. There’s still a lot of winter left to enjoy!
Sky Crystals is the book you’ll need if you want to make images like this, or if you’d simply curious about the mysteries in the snow and want understandable answers that describe how all snowflakes grow: https://www.skycrystals.ca/book/ - makes a great coffee table book, as well as a great book to flip through if you’ve got a inquisitive mind.