It’s a beautiful sight walking along a quiet wintry street, where everything glistens with thousands of tiny snowflakes. And although it may have been practically impossible before, one photographer can now capture the intricate details of a single snowflake.
After 18 months of designing and building it, Seattle-born Nathan Myhrvold had a working camera in his hands, one specifically made for photographing snowflakes. He then took his new invention and headed north to Yellowknife to capture some of the world’s best snowflakes, thanks to the cold climate.
“Canadians take their snow seriously, and it shows,” he says. “Yellowknife snowflakes are extremely beautiful due to the perfect mixture of temperature and humidity.”
For some of the best snowflake photos, Myhrvold says the temperature has to sit between minus 26 to minus 29 degrees Celsius. Even at those temperatures the sharp features of their crystal structures degrade quickly—which is something Myhrvold had to take into consideration. So he built a cooling stage within his camera’s microscope to keep the snowflakes from vaporizing too quickly. The special camera also has a minimum shutter speed of 500 micro-seconds—1,200 times faster than a normal camera.
The result is the radiant, diamond-like image seen here. Myhrvold boasts that his snowflake camera has the world’s highest resolution, as he can get a larger and sharper image than most microscopic photos. Through his images one can see the many intricate shapes and the way each crystal connects, proving no two snowflakes are the same—but they’re all pretty stunning.