I photograph a lot of different subjects, but ice crystals are by far my favorite. I have always had a strong interest in geology and mineralogy and ice crystals are literally the rocks of winter. In this gallery are the best images I’ve taken over the last several months. Unlike the gallery I posted several days ago, these crystals have all formed and grown in temperatures that have stayed below freezing. In fact since December 30th 2019, the temperature in Fairbanks has not risen above 5 F.
These crystals were all found in the Fairbans area in three primary locations; on the Chena river in Fairbanks, on windows at a location just west of town, and in the Chatanika valley just north of town. I have been going on snowshoe excursions in the Chatanika valley on an almost weekly basis this winter. Many of these images were taken on those trips where I have been finding crystals growing in cracks in the ice of a large lake, and some smaller ponds in the area. The ice crystals in these instances are actively growing as moisture from below escapes to the atmosphere through the cracks.
There are also images of window frost formations I found at a cabin just west of town. The formations are incredibly intricate but also incredibly difficult to capture. Being nearly clear and on a clear surface, it has been difficult to get my camera to focus on what I want it to do. I also have to contend with the dirt on the window itself that shows up in the images. Lastly, I am limited on my background and while I’d love to be able to frame them against a black background, the windows are on a second story where I can’t adjust it.
Most of the other images in this gallery were taken on the Chena river here in Fairbanks. I discovered several months ago that there were two layers of ice in places along the edge of the river. In some areas I’ve found a very thin layer of ice suspended 1-2 inches above the solid river ice below. The suspended ice formed when the river initially froze and then the water level dropped before freezing more solidly. In between the two layers are ice crystal formations. Unlike the Chatanika formations that are continuing to grow and develop, the Chena river crystals developed when the ice layers formed and have been slowly degrading through sublimation ever since. I’ve enjoyed photographing crystals in all locations this winter and feel that I’ve been able to capture some amazing formations.