One of the biggest snowflakes I've photographed, at least by volume. Be sure to view this one large to really get a feel for its structure!

Nearly solid throughout, you can tell that this crystal took a little longer to grow than others. One of the instabilities that affect snowflake growth, called the knife-edge instability, causes rapid growth to occur when the edges of a snowflake are very thin. This is normally the cause of large fern-like dendrite snowflakes.... but not this time.

You can clearly see solid 60-degree angles on pretty much every branch. This means that the knife-edge instability had never kicked in, which would have created round tips on each branch and side-branch. This snowflake grew slower, and took its time filling in all of the available space in the interior.

The outward growth seemed to have slowed considerable at one point, resulting in very wide "hubs" about halfway up the main branches. You can see this starting to happen again at the tips of all branches - wider ends indicate slower growth.

What else to talk about? The crystal appears to be growing on at least three different layers radiating out from the center. The top branch is further behind, the branches on the upper left and right are the furthest in front. This type of formation is not uncommon, and actually allows for the branches to overlap each-other and expand even further.

Let's not forget about the colour, especially in the upper left. The colours you see here are primarily generated through a prism effect in the ridges running inside of branches. These ridges can split light in the same way a prism does. In fact - the ridges are prisms splitting the light. :)

Photographically, this snowflake took a long time to edit, comprised of 55 total frames to get the image in-focus from tip to tip. The focus-stacking techniques take longer when there is more detail to consider - just like this snowflake offers. Because all of the shots are handheld, not all of the lines match up perfectly and some artistic control is needed to get unbroken lines as a final result.

For more on the science and photographic techniques, you can always check out my new 304pg hardcover book on snowflakes. Here's the link:

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