Super-Sized Snowflakes: Vt. Artist Uses Microphotography to Zoom in on Nature

Caleb Foster of Jericho creates images of snowflakes using a microscope, digital camera, and prism

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A Vermont artist makes images of winter last all year long, through his style of photography that may have you looking at the next snowstorm in a whole new way.

"It's an odd winter sport for Vermont," joked Caleb Foster, referring to his snowflake photography. "My family skis and I sit out here playing with snowflakes in a very different way."

When temperatures are in the teens or twenties, Foster ventures outdoors to freeze glimpses of nature with his camera.

"One of the things I enjoy about it is bringing joy to others," Foster told NECN and NBC10 Boston Friday.

Using a tiny brush to grab individual snowflakes, and a DIY-style microscope and camera setup, Foster super-sizes intricate details of ice crystals. Additionally, he uses a prism to send rainbow colors toward his lens for stunning backgrounds.

"You get the perfect snowflake, you breathe on it, it melts, it blows away — there's a challenge aspect to it that I love," Foster explained.

Caleb was living in Pennsylvania and already experimenting with magnifying flakes when his day job in life sciences research meant a relocation to Jericho, Vermont.

Coincidentally, Jericho is the hometown of Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley, a farmer who, in the late 1800s, pioneered photographing flakes.

Visitors can learn about Bentley through an exhibit at the landmark Old Red Mill in town. The exhibit was organized by Jericho's historical society, which also has an online presence.

Bentley's research famously led him to say it appears no two snowflakes are the same. From Bentley's simple methods to Foster's modern technology, that understanding is still true today.

"It never stops blowing my mind how unique every one of them is," Foster said of snowflakes.

Come warmer weather, the contemporary Snowflake Bentley will turn his attention to landscapes, insects and animals — always thinking of how to perfect his microphotography to capture images that can never melt.

"Hopefully, it'll stay fresh for years to come, too," Foster said of the enjoyment he derives from his snowflake photography.

More examples of the photographer's work are available on his website.

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