This image isn’t a painting of snow falling on bare trees;
it’s a leaf of black witch hazel (Trichocladus crinitus
) imaged at 100× magnification. Crystals of calcium oxalate growing between the leaf’s ribs are the “snow” in this image, which was taken using differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy and submitted to the Royal Photographic Society’s International Images for Science contest.
The crystals grow out of the leaf and irritate herbivores that eat them, providing a natural defense for the plant. In DIC micrographs, brightness indicates how fast light passes through each part of a specimen under the microscope, allowing scientists to determine which parts have the same chemical makeup.—Manny Morone