From the Department of Awesome Snowflake Photography come these astonishing photos by Don Komarechka, a skilled macro photographer based in Ontario, Canada.

But these images are more than just impressive macro photos. Don uses a “focus stacking technique” that enables us to get an even better look at these microscopic natural marvels. During post processing Komarechkha takes multiple images of the same snowflake shot at different focus distances and merges them. To created first photo in this post, entitled 12-Sided Shimmer, Don stacked 45 separate images. The photo immediately below that one is the result of stacking 34 separate images.

"The process is unlike most other photographers who shoot snowflakes, and allows me to play with prismatic color and surface reflections to a much greater degree."

While reading about Komarechka’s full process, we learned one extremely fun fact. The black background all of his snowflakes are on is actually just a plain black mitten he received from his grandmother years ago. As he states, “This is so I can have a dark background, and because the snowflakes get caught in the fibers and bring the background out of focus. It also serves as an insulator, preventing the snowflake from melting on contact. I’ve searched everywhere for a better surface, and I keep coming back to the black mitten.”

[via My Modern Metropolis]