Thanks Rick for letting me ramble a bit on your blog! As a science-minded individual, photography allows me to see the world in ways I could never imagine with my own eyes. This has developed into a style and over-arching concept behind my work: to photograph the unseen world. From limitless star scapes all the way down to the smallest objects of little significance.
My neighbors think I’m crazy, and it’s the
logical thing to do. Seeing me grapple a monstrous camera while flashing rapid
pulses of light at a black mitten, what other explanation could come to mind?
I’m photographing snowflakes.
Opening Image: Shimmering snowflake
As a young child seeing their first snowflake, you might come across one of these beauties and stare for a while, or it may fall on your tongue and disappear instantly. My method of photographing snowflakes uses reflected light instead of light shining through it. This allows me to play with the angles of light and camera to get a brightly reflective surface.
Some snowflakes are smaller than you’d ever notice, even as an inquisitive child. Crystals such as this one measure roughly 1mm across, and contain patterns and geometry with a high degree of symmetry. Look closely to the center and you’ll see the shape of a snowflake hidden in the empty space. A 6:1 magnification is required to get this close, and I use a Canon MP-E 65mm macro lens with extension tubes as the tool of choice.
Snowflakes can be difficult to isolate, and you’ll often encounter smaller crystals attached to larger ones. All my snowflake images are focus-stacked (in Photoshop), and in this case 43 separate frames at different focus points are combined to make the entire structure crisp and sharp.
When observing snowflake, you’ll often see many with bumps, as if it was dipped in diamonds. This is called “rime”, and occurs when a snowflake passes through water droplets during its formation. All of these images are photographed on a black mitten as a background.
Physics plays a huge role in the shape, and also the color of snowflakes. Prism refraction may be responsible for the branches, and the center is caused by optical interference. There’s a lot of science directly observable in your everyday snowflakes!
The Snowflake Book Project
I’m currently crowd-funding the production of a 300-page hardcover book on snowflakes. The photography and techniques, science and physics will all be explored. Help out the project and make “Sky Crystals: Unraveling the Mysteries of Snowflakes” a success! Click here for info.
Thank you again Rick for letting me share your space.
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