Category: "Announcements"

USA Today's Book Roundup

January 21st, 2010

The Story of Snow is featured in today's USA Today's  Book Roundup - in an article entitled Weather the Winter with a Picture Book. The book is described as "an artistic science lesson about the rise and fall of snow crystals."  The article also features Carl's Snowy Afternoon by Alexandra Day, Life in the Boreal Forest by Brenda Z. Guiberson, illustrated by Gennady Spirin and Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson by Sharon Robinson, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.

You can read the on-line version here:


Last night I spoke at the Grand Rapids Camera Club and provided a demo of how to take snow crystal photo. The turnout was great with well over 100 people in the room, and it was a lot of fun.

The presentation is a bit of a stroll down memory lane and the evolution of the process I use to take snow crystal photos. Of course, it starts at the beginning, with the very first snow crystal shots I managed to make. Here they are - from the winter of 1998/99. It was my second or third try at it, only very small crystals were falling, and on a wing and prayer I snapped a few shots with a high magnification setup, manual flash, and ancient Spotmatic film camera. I was really happy with the results, but it was the end of the season and there were no more opportunities that winter.

It took me a few more years till I was able to duplicate these results, but these photos gave me the inspiration to keep on trying...


Snow Crystal
Snow Crystal
As always - click on the image for a larger file.
- Mark

Not the Worst Winter Ever

December 29th, 2009
Snowflake Photo

The winter of 2009/10 is still quite young, and no one knows what it holds. But at this early date there is one thing I can say for sure - when it comes to snow crystal photos, it won't be the worst winter ever. 

I don't feel like digging into my records to figure out which season exactly was the worst. I first started photographing snow crystals in 1997, and the first few years I worked on it were a real challenge - especially shooting very unforgiving color slide film. But there was one year when, even with digital cameras and a refined and predictable technique, I only managed two good shots. It's just a question of what nature tosses your way, and if you are there to receive it. 

That is part of the deal with nature photography. You take what the earth gives you. Sometimes it is generous; often not. And when not, you just get up and go back out, faithful that things will be different. Whether it's hunting for snow crystals, visiting a pine barrens, hoping to find wildflowers or dragonflies - sometimes nature is bountiful, sometimes not. And often you come home with nothing to show for the effort. 

Some days I wish that it all could be easy. Maybe I could fly to places where the subjects I want to photograph are right there waiting. I'm sure dragonflies are on the wing somewhere. Snow crystals fall in perfection someplace else. Sometimes I feel that I lack dedication, and if I was really serious I would not just shoot photos in my little corner of the world, but rather would go where the subjects are and really produce. It could be easy... and rewarding. 

But if I have learned anything from observing nature, it is that the easy is the most unnatural. And if I have learned anything from art, it is that the product is a distraction and it is the process that is the most compelling. So while bleak winter days can be unrewarding;  while a whole winter can pass and yield just two snow crystal photos;  while there are days I return empty handed, again; and nights dark with doubt - ultimately it is part of the dance, part of the process, part of creation. No matter what, it's a blessing and not to be denied just because there is  nothing to show for it. 

Yeah - I know - try explaining that to folks who say "But what did you do today?" So I am  happy to record in my journal - "2009/10 is not the worst winter ever wrt snow crystals." 

And so here we go - two more shots from Sunday night, embedded in this post. As always - click on the image for a larger file.

The session was not quite as productive as I had hoped, but there is at least another shot in the works and what the heck - did I mention that this is not the worst year ever when it comes to snow crystals?

Snowflake Photo
- Mark


New Review On Bookends, a Booklist Blog

December 29th, 2009

Yesterday, a new review of The Story of Snow appeared on  Bookends, a Booklist blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

 “They take a rather technical subject and make it “crystal” clear for really young readers and still retain a tangible sense of wonder. This is a beautiful book and a fascinating book.”

 You can read the whole thing here:

Winston - Salem Journal and Chicago Tribune Reviews

December 27th, 2009

Today’s Winston-Salem Journal has a nice article about books to read on snowy days – and The Story of Snow is one of them.  You can read the whole review, Snow Days Call For Snowy Pages here –

Last week the Chicago Tribune‘s print edition featured a review of winter books for young readers by Mary Harris Russell. Christmas, Snowflake Stories Are Delightful featured only 3 books – The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson, What’s Coming for Christmas by Kate Banks and  The Story of Snow by yours truly.

Sorry – I don’t have a weblink for this review.

It’s snowing like mad here in Michigan. The Christmas storm of 2009 is moving along to the east, and we are falling into the northerly winds. For now it is just a dusty busted up snow with no good snow crystals so far. Once the storm passes and the gentle lake effect snow kicks in, things may get better…at least from the perspective of someone looking for snow crystals to photograph!  Best wishes to everyone who is travelling through this storm during this holiday season.

In the meantime – here’s a shot from last March:

Snow Crystal

 - Mark

First Snow Crystal Photo of 2009/10

December 19th, 2009

Last week’s storm brought several inches of hard driving, wet snow to Kalamazoo. But after the blizzard passed temperatures grew more mild, and soon patches of grass began to emerge from the melting snow cover.

A slight dusting of lake effect snow a couple of days ago is all we’ve seen of the white stuff since then. I spent a few disappointing hours out in the light snow, catching only highly irregular crystals and the broken arms of dendrites.

Here’s the one and only whole crystal I managed to photograph – it’s a start!

Snow Crystal Photo
- Mark

Outstanding Science Trade Book

December 13th, 2009

Great news!

The Story of Snow has been named an Outstanding Science Trade Book for Students K-12 by the National Science Teacher's Association and Children's Book Council!

- Mark

Front page News

December 11th, 2009

The Kalamazoo Gazette ran a front page article about The Story of Snow on Wednesday, December 9.

Click here to check it out!

The weather was quite accomodating as a blizzard moved into west Michigan around the same time.

- Mark

100 Titles for Reading and Sharing

December 7th, 2009

A little while ago the New York Public Library came out with their recommended list of children's books called 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing. The Story of Snow is included!

Here's a nice stellar dentrite from last December - almost a year ago. This winter is turning out to be pretty mild so far, here in Michigan at least...

- Mark