Taking a photo of a snowflake doesn't sound too difficult. That is until you actually set off to get these quick-melting wonders of nature to stay frozen for your sensitive high resolution equipment. To capture the beauty of its minutae, photographer Nathan Myhrvold travelled to Fairbanks, Alaska, and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.
Myhrvold's strongest snowflakes were found at temperatures between-15 and-20 °F (-26 to-29 °C). It is difficult to capture the picture of a snowflake because of their scale and vulnerability.
The photographer, chef, scientist and author Nathan Myhrvold is a former Microsoft technology leader. He draws on his physicist training to push photographic boundaries. Using his passions for food, research, and creativity, he and his team are developing custom cameras, robots, microscopes and software for the development of unique photographic perspectives.
Snow crystals are only a few millimeters long. Snowflakes are grouped according to shape. Sector plates, stellar dendrites, and fernlike stellar dendrites are on full display in the crystals in these photos. They melt and sublimate, which over time degrades the sharp characteristics of the crystal structure. Time, temperature, weather and equipment, for a photographer, make snowflakes such a delicate subject.
Myhrvold spent about 18 months designing and building a custom snowflake camera. It uses a Phase One sensor (100MP) adapted to a microscope objective. The camera is paired with short-pulse, high-speed LED lights, typically used for industrial purposes. The camera has a minimum shutter speed of 500 microseconds. It is the highest-resolution snowflake camera in the world.
Myhrvold is the founder of Modernist Cuisine, author of The Photography of Modernist Cuisine, and coauthor of Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking, Modernist Cuisine at Home, Modernist Bread. He also has a new work coming out called Modernist Pizza.
Cover Photo: "Yellowknife Flurry" Nathan Myhrvold / Modernist Cuisine Gallery, LLC. All photos used with permission.