February 12, 2014

Hoarfrost: Capturing Light

I looked out on a white world from my bedroom window yesterday in the early morning; I could see that it was not snow brightening the landscape: branches and weeds glittered in the sun, which meant that it was hoarfrost that caused the sparkle. (click on photos to enlarge and see details more clearly)

Delicate, thin crystals of ice adhered to surfaces, gathered this way and that, enhancing the forms of weeds: the seed head of Queen Anne's lace, tightly upright....

....or spread outward. The frilly brightness is as beautiful as the summer flower.

I waited until after 9AM to go out to photograph, when the temperature went above zero. It was only 5 degrees, though, and my camera froze after about 15 minutes of shooting. So, I went indoors, let the camera warm a little, reset it, and went back outside to take these three last images. Actually, I took many more, as I always do, but these made the final cut. Here the frost makes brilliant lines along the rugosa rose canes.

An ordinary line of grass becomes radiant against the dark of a cloud.

Nannyberry buds bristle with light, waiting for their season. We all await spring, meanwhile enjoying the beauties of winter, and enduring its trials; spring will be all the more glorious because of them.


  1. I love your last sentence - well said.

  2. Thank you Altoon for identifying this phenomenon with a name. I have always been struck with wonder when I observe it, but just chalked it up to another of water's myriad manifestations. I love that it has a name "hoarfrost". Will have to remember it now!

  3. Thanks for looking and reading, Anon. and Jessyca. It was a delight to see the hoarfrost and I'm glad I went out to photograph it.