Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Frosty Time!

I'm back at "Ketelsen East" in the western 'burbs of Chicago after a week-long road trip through the Midwest. It is great to stay in familiar surroundings, though has been a while since I've been in these weather conditions - temps in single digits and new snow falling most days! It has been beautiful, especially when combined with a blue sky, but what is one to do when confronted by temps near zero? Go out and shoot photos, of course!

I noticed the strange glow just looking out into the dark - the sky seemed aglow as what I assume were streetlights reflecting off the new snow. These photos of "Ketelsen East" and surroundings are only 5 seconds long, but you could easily see without a flashlight. There were a few snowflakes still coming down, and other than the "Grinch, Grinch" of my feet compacting the cold snow underfoot, it was completely silent. At left, I was shooting at the "security light" of the church camps pavilion on the grounds where my house is located. At right is a view of the Fox River, mostly frozen over with the snow cover over it making it look deceptively safe to cross on foot. While Melinda and I have crossed the frozen river before, it would have to be cold for much longer before I'd venture out onto the ice!

The next morning I awoke to an incredible frost display in the bathroom window between the inner pane and the outer storm window. I shot these with macro lens and some extension tube added in for good measure to record crystal detail. I shot it first with good reason - shortly afterwards, the sun hit it and it melted into a hazy patch of condensation and a few sizeable drops of water. No doubt the next evening a new pattern of frost would appear magically drawn by the randomness of crystal growth and moisture availability! Hmm - perhaps a time-lapse subject - but in a night-darkened bathroom???

As soon as I snapped the above shots in the bathroom, I looked outside on the porch (where it truly was nearly zero Fahrenheit!) and saw the sun glinting off some really nice snowflakes atop new snow fallen on the grill and bushes a few feet outside the door. The cold temps and still air from the night before must have been perfect conditions for crystal formation, as there were many choices to draw from. In particular, what had initially caught my eye was the near-specular reflection of the sun off the large flakes, so attempted to recapture that reflection. As mentioned, some flakes were huge - the one at left measuring (with a ruler!) to be a full 5 millimeters across! The flake is so bright because I was lined up with the sun's reflection, and the much shorter exposure required darkened the background snow... Similarly at right I found a pair of flakes that lined up their sun glints in the same direction, so was able to catch the pair with their crystal structure!

Well that was fun! Now I'm wishing for more quiet, cold days w/snow to look for more crystals and frost! Since we're still in the early days of February, I'm thinking the chances are good!

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