Remembering snowflake photographer Wilson Bentley

February 9, 2016 /Photography News/ Born 151 years ago, on 9 February 1865, Wilson Bentley was one of the first known photographers of snowflakes. He perfected a process of catching flakes on black velvet in such a way that their images could be captured before they either melted or sublimed.

Bentley first became fascinated with snow during his childhood on a Vermont farm, and he experimented for years with ways to view individual snowflakes in order to study their crystalline structure. He eventually attached a camera to his microscope, and in 1885 he successfully photographed the snowflakes. More than five thousand of his snowflake photomicrographs supported the belief that no two snowflakes are alike, leading scientists to study his work and publish it in numerous scientific articles and magazines. 

Bentley also photographed all forms of ice and natural water formations including clouds and fog. He was the first American to record raindrop sizes and was one of the first cloud physicists.

He died of pneumonia on December 23, 1931, after walking six miles in a blizzard so he could photograph more snowflakes.

Snowflake photos by Wilson Bentley, circa 1902
Snowflake photos by Wilson Bentley, circa 1902


  1. Sarah Horton says

    It really is amazing...Beautiful

    Anonymous says

    I saw a perfect snow flake catch in a friends hair, it was so pretty. A rare sight, so to photograph them is amazing, especially so long ago. Thank you for this mist interesting article.

    Stewart says

    Your post is very timely.... I was reading it and looked out the window and it had just started to snow!Snowflakes, individually are fascinating!

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