Happy New Year! As we all emerge from seasonal celebrations and moments spent with family – close and far – I want to make a fun observation. Many people have asked me if snow in different parts of the world look different. The answer probably won’t surprise you.
It doesn’t. While this particular snowflake is from my old backyard in Barrie (having just been edited over these holidays), I have seen snow across Canada and across the world. There are certain geographical features that might make big, beautiful snowflakes more common just as there are features that make cluttered clumps of ice more common. Lake effect snow is often ugly, whereas snow that emerges over shallow mountain peaks is often more beautiful. These are all local features that could exist anywhere, and it simply sways the “average”. Even in a region known for icy blasts of lake-effect snow, there are also snowfalls of the most beautiful variety.
In Barrie Ontario where the majority of the snowflakes I have photographed originated, we have a good mix of winter weather. So much so that it was somewhat unpredictable what type of snow might be falling, and every variety of snowflake was observed there – even the exceedingly rare types that are rarely documented in nature. This type of stellar plate is quite common, though I still search through thousands of crystals to select the specimens with the best symmetry.
I was once asked to travel to some prestigious ski resorts in Europe to photograph their snowflakes. The marketing people were hoping to get a collection of unique snowflakes from each resort to illustrate the type of snow one might expect from the region. I said I would be willing to go on location and shoot snowflakes for a few days / week at each spot, but I also added that it would be inaccurate. I suggested that a more scientific longitudinal study would be required to affirm what the average “type” of snowflake was, not just what happened to be falling during my visit. I never heard back from the company. I should have just quietly said “yes, I can take your pictures”, which would have resulted in being paid to visit some of the finest ski resorts in Western Europe. Ah well.
The center of this snowflake shows that it once began as a column, growing plates out of each side. If you look closely, you can see the ghostly edges of a hexagonal shape that is visible through the ice – features of the snowflake from the reverse side. Had I known this when shooting, I might have flipped it over to reveal a hexagonal gem-like shape rising above the center. It’s still beautiful as it is, even though it’s not the “good side”. From the macrocosm to the microcosm, there’s always different ways to perceive the beauty and uniqueness of snow.
If you’d like the best tutorial every written for photographing snowflakes, you can find it – along with everything from refractions to UV fluorescence – in my latest book on macro photography. It’s currently stocked by three retailers:
Adorama (US): www.adorama.com/dkmpuof.html
The Camera Store (Canada): thecamerastore.com/products/don-komarechka-macro-photogra...
(if you’re in Canada, I strongly suggest you buy from The Camera Store to support a fantastic Canadian retailer)