This snowflake hasn't branched very often and the side-branches show very little growth compared to the overall length. This creates a long and very fragile snowflake with plenty of room for random growth on each of the branches.
At some point, the left side began gathering water vapour much more readily than the right side. This could have been due to a shift in the aerodynamic properties of the snowflake; the left side is also more heavily "rimed" with water droplets supporting this idea. This is common when a snowflake begins to fall from its cloud and the crystal stays pointed in one direction during its descent.
This is also one of the largest snowflake images I've put together this year. 57 frames in total (the record from last year was 70), all handheld and combined in Photoshop using focus-stacking techniques to get the entire snowflake sharp tip-to-tip.
The reflective surface is an effect I'm often working hard to create, by adjusting the angle of the camera and ring flash to create "glare" on the surface of the snowflake. This gives a shimmering effect to the crystal and reveals more surface details.
The general public was first introduced to white snowflakes and black backgrounds over a hundred years ago with the work of Wilson A. Bentley, a farmer from Vermont. Bentley's technique involved photographing a snowflake with a white background (using transmitted light) and then cutting out the image from a duplicate negative with a razor to achieve a black background. While my technique requires considerable effort as well, the background is black to begin with. Still, I think my work resembles Bentley's work in many ways.
If you're curious about snowflakes, the science and photography techniques, be sure to check out my book: http://skycrystals.ca/