Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The magic of snow

click photo to enlarge
"snow (noun) - a precipitation in the form of ice crystals, mainly of intricately branched, hexagonal form and often agglomerated into snowflakes, formed directly from the freezing of the water vapour in the air."
Definition at

The definition of snow quoted above might satisfy the meteorologists but it's no good for me. I know that it falls out of the sky like rain, but the fact is it's much more fun than rain. Snow flakes may be ice crystals but they rarely look like them. Moreover, I've seen the photographs of the hexagonal crystals, every one unique, that combine to form flakes, but I've never looked at snow and seen them with my own eyes. So, whilst I'm prepared to believe all that I'm told about snow by the scientists, I think their definition falls short unless they also admit that it's magical. Now I know that the Enlightenment banished magic and thrust science to the fore, and that no (or rather few) self-respecting modern scientists will admit a place for magic in their explanations of anything. Yet, snow hides its substance from us so well, and confers such a change on the world when it descends that it clearly is, if not magic, then certainly magical.

Perhaps I'd see snow differently if I lived in Canada or Siberia. But, living on a small island, in the path of the Gulf Stream, and subject to only the occasional fall of the white stuff, I have a liking for it. As a photographer I always want a few days of it each year for the transformational effect it has on familiar scenes. The recent extended cold spell that has gripped the UK has produced frosts a-plenty, and snow in several parts of our islands, but only a few desultory flurries in my area. Consequently, today's black and white photograph is one that I took last year. I post it in the hope that it might precipitate a decent "precipitation in the form of ice crystals...agglomerated into snowflakes" that will work its winter magic.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12mm (24mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/200
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: +1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On