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The Incredibly Beautiful Fern Frost
A visit by Jack Frost makes a cold winter morning very special and has me reaching for my camera.
The patterns that form on glass can be breathtakingly beautiful, I have tried to capture that beauty in my photos and found it very challenging!
'Fern frost' is beautiful patterns of ice crystals that form on glass, they create intricate patterns that look like fern.
To my delight, Jack Frost must have paid particular attention to my greenhouse, every pane of glass had been decorated!
But photographing glass with the sun shining brightly isn’t easy! The photos haven’t totally captured the truly exquisite spectacle before me.
A change in temperature
The day before I took these photos the temperatures dropped and we had some snow. During the evening the temperature increased and it began to rain, then through the night the temperatures dropped again. The perfect conditions for a fern frost.
How a fern frost forms
The droplets of water on the cold glass turn to ice and more moisture freezes on top. Gradually more ice crystals form and the frost develops into shapes. These shapes are feather like and as they build up they eventually look like fern.
To create this effect the glass needs to be clean. As the droplets of water build up and are un-impeded by surface debris, they grow into patterns of graceful ethereal feathers and ferns.
Initially a seeding crystal, hexagon in shape starts the pattern, catching onto an imperfection in the glass, such as a scratch. The water droplets very quickly attach themselves, preventing more seeding crystals to form, allowing the pattern to form and continue growing.
Even with time, surely no machine or man, could reproduce such detail and precision. These patterns appear so complex and regular, the detail so fine, that it’s almost incomprehendable that it can emerge in such a short time.
As I was taking the photos I could hear the drip, drip of the thaw. Yet again, I felt humbled and privileged to witness this brief glimpse of nature's beauty and magnificence. An hour later it was gone.