Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

Macro of Ice Crystals

Published : 7th August 2003


Hello,

I have an upcoming music video shoot where the director asked if there was anyway I could shoot ice-crystals forming.

He wants macro photography of crystals on a piece of sheet glass...and it sounds like I might need the services of my Norris intervalometer to do this.

I've shot time-lapse in zero temps before, but I've never shot macro timelapse, nor have any good idea on how to create a growing ice-crystal…without freezing my optics.

Maybe this is a question more suited to a physics professor...

Anyway, just thought I'd ask the group for any ideas. One thought that came to me was to use a special type of aquarium 'background' paint. I recall seeing a special paint [at pet stores] that when dried, has that ice-crystal look..

Maybe shoot time-lapse of this paint drying?

Thanks!

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage, s.o.c.



>I recall seeing a special paint [at pet stores] that when dried, has that >ice-crystal look…maybe shoot time-lapse of this paint drying?

We used this old trick recently...painting a window with a mixture of beer and Epsom salts - it creates a lovely ice-crystal look on the glass (big crystals as opposed to tiny ones).

Seems to take about ten minutes for the crystals to form, which should be good timing for time-lapse work.

George Hupka
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



George Hupka wrote:

>We used this old trick recently... painting a window with a mixture of beer >and Epsom salts - it creates a lovely ice-crystal look on the glass

Gee, everything on the CML always seems to return back to beer. I guess that's why we maintain the pub atmosphere..

Best Regards,

Jim Sofranko
NY/DP



Jeff,

Hey, have you checked out this site?

http://www.sciencephotography.com

This site should be listed on the CML links if it's not. Take a look at the ice crystals shot on a Mitchell section.

It's incredibly informative - and I wish Mr. Kinsman would participate on CML.

One of the things I have in mind to work on soon is time-lapse. This is one of the best site's I've found.

Anybody have others?

John Babl
Miami



I used the same treatment in Florida to hide the palm trees in an frosty Christmas morning interior shot on a commercial shoot.

The beer should be warm and mix a fair amount of Epsom salts in the beer.

Roughly 3 parts Epsom salts to 1 part beer is the mixture that I have used in the past. Basically just enough beer to liquefy the salt. We would paint in a cross-hatch pattern with a paint brush so the crystals would form in different directions.

The results can be very convincing.

There is also a spray that you can buy that does the same effect, but doesn't give as dramatic crystals.

Russell Gienapp
DP/Halifax, Nova Scotia



>Gee, everything on the CML always seems to return back to beer. I >guess that's why we maintain the pub atmosphere..

It's really just a way to justify our beer purchases as a fully-deductible business expense.

After all, you've got to research which beer produces the best crystals, right?

George Hupka
Director/DP, Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada


(This response was posted some months later...)


Hello all!

I just wanted to say a whole-hearted "THANKS!!" to the CML and especially Russell Gienapp & George Hupka for their advice on my 'ice-crystals' question.

I just finished another music video but needed advice on how to make a time-lapse shot of ice crystals forming on a sheet of glass.

The recommendation from the CML was to create a 'soup' of Epsom salts mixed into a clear beer.

So, I went out and bought some almost clear Miller beer and a box of salt, mixed a few table spoons of the salt into a cup of the beer and stirred....after the salts dissolved, I 'painted' this new soup mix onto a small sheet of glass and timed it drying.

10 minutes seem to work, so I set my Norris to a speed where I could turn 10 minutes of real time into 5 seconds of screen time and lit this little scene with a few Dedo's...

WOW!!! It really looks fantastic!!!

Thanks again for all the cool ideas....I just wonder what lonely soul sat down one evening and tried different mixtures of various materials to work this one out!

Cheers,
Jeff Barklage