Saturday, February 27, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

I love snow. And I have as long as I can remember. My oldest memory of snow is being in our yard with the snow up to my waist (drifts no doubt); the yard was new and different. I couldn't wait to explore this curiously changed place. Later I remember sledding down Highland Ave, the road I grew up on, for hours and hours. I'd run and jump on my sled, following the line of neighborhood kids down the road. Snowballs would bombard the cars that dared to interrupt our fun. My memories are full of snowy winter days, many more than we get today. I know it's warmer now, as the bay never freezes over as it did when I was young.

My parents still live in that house on Highland Ave, but the snow of recent past doesn't cover the road for sledding (and few kids live in the old neighborhood, we've all grown and moved away). Until this year that is, as there have been several snowstorms of 12" or more.

My friends think I'm nuts, but I was truly bummed that I missed the two blizzards which hit the east coast of the US, being off on my annual Florida pilgrimage. (They also think I'm nuts for other reasons we won't go into here ...) But I really was disappointed, having missed wandering in the solitude of the freshly fallen snow (and perhaps snapping a picture or two). Alas, I only got to see the aftermath, the dirty plow piles in parking lots and along the side of the road.


Several years ago I discovered the work of Ken Libbrecht and the beauty of snow crystals, via his wonderful book, The Snowflake, Winter's Secret Beauty. And I've been trying to get snowflake pictures like his ever since. 

To do so I need it to be snowing (duh!), to have a camera handy (usually not a problem), and have the time to shoot (i.e., not be at work). That happened today. As I was heading out this morning to run some errands I noticed the flakes were large, perhaps as large as a quarter inch. So it was back inside to grab my camera and ...

... I got this (as always, click to bigafy). The snow crystals are on the window of my car, and I'm inside shooting out. (Note the six pointed water drop in the upper right.)

I was shooting with a DSLR, a Canon 50D, and a 100 mm macro lens. Autofocus was not working, the camera wanting to focus through the window, not on it. And, as evidenced by the melted flake, the temperature was such that the flakes did not last long.

It was also a bit windy, so the flakes often broke on impact. There's plenty of snowflake shrapnel in these images.

The wind and the melting resulted in the flakes sliding down the window, further complicating focusing.

As it continued to warm up the flakes started to clump together. And as you can see from the water drops, flakes were spending less and less time on the window. Perhaps I was warming things up sitting inside the (not running) car?

The clumping continued and I got a few more keepers. But the clumps tended to impact harder, resulting in more shrapnel. The end was near.

This is a mostly melted flake, a "skeleton" flake. If you look closely you can see hints of its former glory. By now, the flakes were essentially melting on impact. By the time I got the camera on the flake and focused these skeletons were all that was left.

So I put the camera down, and finally drove off to do my errands.

I had fun taking these shots. They aren't great images. But they are good enough to show (what's that cliche about a talking dog?).

(Click here to see another example of my snowflake imagery skills.)


Ron a.k.a. Danudin said...

Absolutely wonderful Steve, and I am impressed, how do you keep your windscreen so clean LOL. We don't ever see snow in Brisbane Queensland, far too hot, even in mid winter. I enjoy seeing these via photo and internet.

Chesney said...

What wonderful tiny delicate and intricate details you got...these are all outstanding (and the background colors are perfect for showing off these tiny delights)! I always love the first few days of huge snowfalls, but we haven't seen bare ground since November, so I am more than done with the snow this year! We are supposed to be in the 40's by the end of the week - so HOPEFULLY bye bye snow! :)