Monday, 21 January 2013

The Snowflake Experiment

The school where my eldest daughter teaches English had a snow day today. I was delighted when she invited me to join her and her boyfriend for lunch on her unexpected 'day off'. On the way home from our Burger and Coffee at the local Wetherpsoons, a perfect snowflake landed on her black coat. It lasted just long enough for us to admire its intricate beauty before melting into a tiny wet spot.

It got me wondering if I could possibly capture that beauty on camera using the primitive equipment at my disposal. So, armed with a small piece of black paper and my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 with its Macro Zoom function, I set about my Snowflake Experiment.

It would have been easier to collect my tiny subject if I had had the idea when it was still snowing with any conviction. As it was, the very occasional flake drifted lazily from the sky, and mostly avoided my attempts to encourage them to land on my paper. When I did get lucky, they would melt before I could switch from 'catch' mode to 'photograph' mode. Painfully cold fingers were not that adept at holding the camera still, framing or focusing. The result was a lot of blurry nonsense.

I did manage a couple of shots that came close to what I was trying to achieve.

If I had been a fraction of a second quicker, this could have been a spectacular example of the complex symmetry that make snowflakes so beautiful instead of a ghostly wet shadow of its former glory.

My second example was spoiled by the fact that it was not a single snowflake (which presumably is why it didn't melt as rapidly).

As experiments go, it wasn't a resounding success. I should perhaps leave it to the experts. However, concentrating on one tiny snowflake at a time as I was gave me a totally different perspective on the snow. It is mind boggling when you consider the vast numbers of these fragile ice crystals it takes to make a snowman.... and to wreak the havoc it does.

I am looking beyond my computer screen and out of the window in my study. I can see some perfect specimens falling gently towards the ground - teasing me. I feel the strong urge to grab my wellies, black paper and camera and commence The Snowflake Experiment - Take 2!

I really should learn to control my urges.

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