“I’m melting! Melting!
Oh, what a world! What a world!”
– Wicked Witch of the West
In a winter as warm as this, every snow is like the first snow. Wet flakes land on warm ground, melting on the sidewalks and streets but sticking on the grass. Last night’s snowfall proved to be no exception, as the temperature outside hovered just a few degrees below freezing… And inside the garage where I shoot snow crystals, the residue of the last few warm days kept the temperature right at the freezing point.
Well, at least it was snowing… I tried a few shots and the snow crystals quickly melted, before I could take any photos. Back in December, 2009, I took an usual shot of a snow crystal just as it melted away - or maybe it was a photo of a drop of water, just as it emerged from a crystal. I don’t remember… Well, with all these melting crystals, maybe that is something to try again…
So - here is one of the first shots of the evening - a rather nice stellar dendrite that had already begun to melt when I snapped the first image of it. Here’s the first shot, where the structure is still more or less intact -
(With all images - click for a larger view.)
Here’s a shot about 45 seconds later - the last wafer thin remnant of the crystal floats on (or presses into) the drop of water, which is the melted remain of the rest of the crystal…
Well, that’s interesting. I tried some more… Here the lingering remnants of a crystal’s heart twinkle with color. It was a large dendrite that melted before I ever got the glass plate beneath the lens. I speculate the some sort of partial dark field effect accounts for the colors.
Maybe the same thing happened with this shot -
There was no opportunity to tweak the lighting for these shots - in a manner of seconds the crystals melted away to nothing. Here is another crystal that I was able to capture just as it was starting to melt - the lighting is so dead-on that it looks virtually like a B&W shot:
The crystal was not well formed, and even in the first shot it was melting in the upper right. About half a minute later, it looked like this -
Finally - the bones of two crystals that melted together, floating on their co-joined watery remains:
This winter is turning out to be disappointing. We’ve had day after day of warm temperature, often barely dropping below freezing even in the evenings. What little snow we have gotten has been sloppy an d mixed with rain.
Last weekend we finally had a hard snow and a true blast of cold weather. While the detached garage in which I take these snow crystal photos had cooled down a bit, it still took till the next morning to finally drop below freezing inside the structure - even though it was well below freezing outside.
And so on Saturday morning I set up the camera and managed to get one, just one, snow crystal photo. The snow stopped just as I set up the rig and prepared to start photographing. Here’s the one photo I did get - click for larger version.
And here we are - another warm day and rain on the way. Maybe more crystals will come soon…
Note: This post originally appeared in the Story of Snow’s blog - www.storyofsnow.com - on February 17, 2010. Since many these photos have not appeared here before, I’m reposting it here in Calarti.
And besides - it’s 55F and raining on this particular December evening, so no snow crystal photos in the near future this winter!
If you are interested in the classification system, checkout Jon Nelson’s original post on the subject which can be found here.
February 17, 2010:
I found Jon’s post regarding the Magono-Lee Snow Crystal classification system to be quite interesting. Here are some more shots from Monday night - I’ll see if I can classify them… something tells me that will be more difficult than it sounds.
Let’s start with something simple. My first guess is that the two crystals that follow would be classified as P2d - Dendrite with Sector-like ends:
It looks like that crystal bumped into a couple of simple plates along the way, and they are stuck to it in the lower right quadrant.
The one below has one spot of rime on it - which I assume is not enough to knock it into the rimey category, so it too is a P2d:
This one is similar in general form to the one above, but has a bit of rime spotting it up. I guess it would fall under rimed stellar R1d under Magono-Lee’s system. Personally, I think it would make more sense to have rime as a qualifier of the basic shape, so if I was cooking up a classification scheme I’d call this a Dendrite with Sector-like ends with moderate rime. Maybe P2d-r2.
The next one is a 12 branched crystal without rime, so it is either a P4a (broad branched with 12 branches) or a P4b (dendrite with 12 branches.) Personally, I’d call it a 12 branched variant of the P2d formation, which we just saw above. Maybe P2d-2x? Well - under the existing system it is either a P4a or P4b…
You may have noticed what looks like a sectored plate emerging from one arm at about the 8 o’clock position - that appears to be a growth at the end of that arm.
OK - let’s get back to something simple. I think the following are all ordinary dendrites - P1e.
This first one has a ‘crack’ in the center plate - something I’ve seen several times. I’m not sure what causes it.
And I’ll close out with three rimey subjects, the first two would be R1d - Rimed Stellar and, I think, the last one would be R2b - Densely Rimed Stellar. Though one might think it was a densely rimed fernlike stellar dendrite - maybe P1f-r3, eh?
Magono-Lee is an interesting classification system. I don’t understand exactly why it places such an emphasis on rime at the expense of the core structure of the crystal. It seems to me that rime is an incidental condition independent of the core structure of the crystal. Classifying rimey crystals as a distinct group is sort of like lumping all molting birds into a distinct group. But just as Nietzsche observed that histories reveal almost as much about the historians who wote them as about actual past events, I’d speculate that classification systems tell us a bit about the people who developed them as well as the subjects being classified. Maybe rime was important to Magono or Lee…
The Signature Artist Cooperative is readying it’s 32nd seasonal gallery! The gallery will open it’s door on December 3rd with an artist reception from 12-5 on December 4th. This year the gallery is located in Westwood Plaza at 4502 W. Main Street in Kalamazoo, MI. I will only have three pieces in the gallery again this year, but will be hanging around at the reception.
On Saturday, December 10, the Kalamazoo Nature Center will host the 2011 Buy Local Art & Gift Fair. Lots of artists this year and a really fun event. I will be on hand to sign copies of The Story of Snow from 1-3 PM. For more details, click here.
Here is one of the three images I’ll have in this year’s Signature Gallery - Chicago A.M. - printed up for a 24 x 28 inch frame:
Here are a few snaps from an October trip to the South Haven Beach. It was mid October, two weeks after the B&W shots a couple of posts down, but a similar wind storm was raking the beach. This time I took the Pentax K-5.
Here’s the light at South Haven, along with some sea gulls. When the gulls saw me taking a picture they all turned to see what I was photographing - silly birds. (Click on the picture for a larger image.)
Some nice high seas:
But the rough water didn’t keep a handful of brave souls from venturing out into the surf:
There’s a flock of geese stringing along in the air just over the horizon on the left edge of the frame…
This guy managed to catch air a few times:
A few fun hours at the beach. The K5 acquitted itself remarkably well - though I’ve had it for a few months now I really haven’t used it much. The high ISO performance is remarkable - all but the first show here were taken at ISO 1600, the first one at ISO 800. (Of course, I worked a bunch of digital voodoo on all of these.) For lenses I used a Sigma EX 70-200 f 2.8 for the first and third shot, and a Sigma 135-400 f4.5 - 5.6 for the rest. I’ll be adding that to my review post sooner or later.
An errand took me back to the town in which I was raised, and I brought a Pentax LX loaded with my next to last roll of Kodak HIE. It was almost 3 years out of date, but even under a gloomy sky the IR effect was noticeable. Here’s a shot of a memorable memorial (click on the picture for a larger image):
Autumn is upon us here in west Michigan, but even as the trees turn color several warm, sunny day shave descended upon us. I have a new camera - a Pentax K5 - and so this weekend I set out to run it through its paces with a series of insect macros.
Yesterday it was the Allegan Forest. Autumn is the only time of year when you really can’t be alone in the forest. Hunters converge on the game areas and it’s hard to find a quite place where you can stomp around on your oddy knocky. But I was fortunate that no one was hunting in my favorite field off 48th Street, and I wandered through it and down to the pond.
The grass was all brown and ochre with autumn color, and a fair number of the trees were changing already. Summer’s dragons have fled the field - it is amzing how quickly they vanish when the days get short. All we have are autumn meadowhawks - here are three shots from this visit, I have a few more to post later:
At home my weed garden is bursting with autumn asters. We have several tall blue asters - 6 to 8 feet tall - and two variants of white asters. Bees converge on this small patch of flowers - a feast has been prepared for them at a time when they need it the most. Dozens (if not hundreds) of honey bees and bumble bees keep the flowers dancing on warm days like today. So, here are to snaps of honey bees - good ole apis mellifera - may they thrive:
Last week I spent a day wandering along the Lake Michigan shore. It was windy and I stopped in South Haven and took a few snapshots of the South Haven lighthouse in the gale. I didn’t bring a digital camera, so I shot with the Pentax 6x7 - just two rolls - and then several rolls of 35mm B&W film in the Mz-S. I wanted a grainy look, and I needed fast shutter speeds, so I pushed Fuji Neopan two stops to ISO 1600.
Haven’t developed the 120 film yet, but here’s one of the better 35mm shots. The Neopan was developed in HC-110, Dilution B, 12 minutes for the 2 stop push. The grain came out real nice - smooth and not clumpy - it was a good combo.
Click on the image for a larger picture.
The last weekend of summer… seems like it just got here. Looking back I wish I had taken more photos. Well, here are some pictures of trees from this summer, in no particular order.
First - an infrared shot of a fine oak tree, not even middle aged as oaks go, again in the Allegan game area:
Morning at the Pierce Creek Institute near Hastings, Michigan:
My favorite walnut tree in the Allegan game area:
And lastly, a windbreak at sunset in rural southern Indiana:
In a few weeks, autumn trees, and after that, bare trees of winter…
It’s late August and the sun is already hanging low in the sky… In the wee hours crickets chirp and the morning chorus of songbirds is gone for another year.
And the red dragons fly around in the grass, as if they owned the place: