A single snowflake

  • A single snowflake
  • Falls gently onto my knee
  • Slowly, it disappears

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley is the man that took the study of snowflakes to another level. Born in 1865, Bentley was a farmer in rural Vermont who pioneered photomicrography. Photomicrography is the process of taking photos under a microscope. Bentley used this process to study rain, dew, frost, and a lot of snowflakes. The Snowflake Bentley website reports:

“On January 15, 1885 he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal. He would go on to photograph well over 5000 snow crystals (never finding two the same), and his documentation of this work advanced the study of meteorology in his time.”


Bentley’s photographs have been featured in magazines such as National Geographic, Nature, Popular Science, and Scientific American. In 1931, Bentley and the US Weather Bureau collaborated to publish Snow Crystals, a collection of 2,500 photographs. Since that time there have been other books published that feature Bentley and his work.

Snowflakes in Photographs is an abridged version of Snow Crystals and contains 850 illustrations and a reprint of Bentley’s 1922 Popular Mechanics article “Photographing Snowflakes”

The Snowflake Man Book is a biography of Wilson Bentley written in 1998.

And Snowflake Bentley Children’s Book tells about the story of Bentley’s life using wood block prints.

Bentley’s life and work can be a reminder that there is so much beauty and mystery in the world around us and all we need to do is start looking.

from the beginning, it was the snowflakes that fascinated me most”.

Wilson Bentley
Bentley Snowflake, 1890


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