NEBRASKAland December 2018

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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20 NEBRASKAland • DECEMBER 2018 By Renae Blum Frozen Art Snowflake Photography with Don Komarechka D on Komarechka is a connoisseur of snowflakes. Give him a random snowflake, and he'll probably have a pretty good idea of how and why it likely formed, despite having no background in science. He can also tell you exactly how to take a macro photograph of that snowflake in dazzling detail, having photographed thousands. Komarechka, a self-taught professional photographer from Barrie, Ontario, has made a career out of photographing what he calls "the unseen world," including snowflakes. In his work, these small crystalline structures, which usually measure just a few millimeters in size, explode in astonishing detail, revealing intricate patterns and layers that glisten like small jewels. It's proof that you don't need to look far for an amazing macro subject in the winter – just head outside during any given snowfall and take a closer look. Komarechka stumbled onto snowflake photography almost by accident. "I bought myself an extreme close-up lens, and took it with me to work that day. You'd be surprised how interesting things around the office look at very high magnification – a typical ballpoint pen, a pushpin in a corkboard." Then it started snowing, and Komarechka kept shooting. Needing a darker background to make the snowflakes pop, he reached for a black mitten his grandmother had given him for Thanksgiving. It made all the difference. "[The snowflakes] just sparkled. There was contrast and detail and shape and form, and it was magical. Every one of my snowflakes has been photographed on that same black mitten because it was just the perfect surface," Komarechka said. "That day when I went home from the office, I just kept shooting. And the bug had bit me at that point," he continued. "It became – I don't want to say an 'obsession,' but probably an addiction." Snowflake photography dominates Komarechka's work from December to mid- March every year – the same subject, photographed and edited in almost exactly the same way, innumerable times. "You'd think I would get bored with it after a while. But no, you always discover something new," he said. "This past season I found many more exotic snowflakes than I would have expected. "And when you see something that really breaks the norm, it's a drug. It really does have something of an addictive quality." Komarechka's way of photographing snowflakes is unusual. Most photographers shoot snowflakes on a plate of glass or another transparent surface, with light coming toward the camera from behind. Komarechka shoots snowflakes with light reflected off the snowflake from in front of it. Komarechka's method is more work-intensive, but also makes it possible to see color in certain snowflakes – usually vibrant greens and magentas, but also blues, yellows and reds. "This has to do with the same physics that puts rainbow colors in a soap bubble

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