What would otherwise be a fairly simple plate crystal is met with intrigue: a blob of ice attached to the bottom of the snowflake looks mysteriously like a ruby-throated hummingbird. You’ll only make the connection if you view large!
Like finding shapes in clouds as they float by, this shape is purely accidental but it’s a fun reminder that it’s spring… especially on the East Coast where many people are currently grumbling about the snowfall that is torturing us. This scrap left over from another snowflake, heavily sublimated, embodies what we’re all hoping for: the return of warm weather. Sadly, that hope is currently riding on the back of a snowflake – that can’t be a good sign!
(If anyone is curious to see a raw file from my camera as proof of this hummingbird visage, just ask – I laughed when I saw it and want to make sure you all trust that this is something real in front of the camera)
This is also the first FULL snowflake that I’ve processed with my 20x Mitutoyo microscope objective. I’m very much surprised how clean the colour is – there’s virtually no chromatic aberration and the snowflake feels mostly colourless as a result. Other subjects can generate vibrant colours through this lens, so I’m thinking it’s just very well engineered. This might be a factor of a lens that is telecentric (or close to it), though I haven’t done all the research in this area.
The 20x lens is attached to my Canon 100-400L lens with a filter thread adapter. The telephoto lens is set to 200mm which is what is requested of the microscope objective, and focus is set to infinity. That’s it, you’re done. You now have a 20x macro lens – that is damn near impossible to use. :) It’s one thing to try and wrangle such a lens on a tripod, but in the tradition of all my snowflakes I shot this one handheld. If I didn’t have years of practice handholding extreme macro lenses, I don’t think I could do it – it was a slightly stressful experience!
Not only does the miniature hummingbird interest me, measuring a mere 297 microns (ask me how I measure features of a snowflake over a beer sometime), but the entire snowflake has an interesting feel to it. Ripples caused partly by shifts in growth variables that thicken the crystal as it grows and partly by the snowflake growing around these ribs to smooth them out, we have a snowflake that almost feels like it’s broadcasting a signal. A message of spring, perhaps?
One can only hope.
If you enjoy this image and this series, you’ll absolutely love a copy of Sky Crystals: https://www.skycrystals.ca/book/ - it has fun science and all of the photographic techniques I use to shoot these images. Nothing is held back, and you’re even given the raw files from one of my snowflakes to practice the post-processing workflow with. There is much to discover that falls from the sky!