A very appropriate favourite this week… snow!! Yes, it finally arrived on Wednesday : )
The first time I saw a photograph of a single snowflake in such detail I was astonished. I remember that particular picture had been taken with a DSLR and an all singing all dancing macro lens just a couple of winters before. It is hard to believe the first photograph of a single snow crystal was made in January 1885!
A self-educated Vermont farmer, called Wilson Bentley was the first person to capture the beauty of a single snow crystal on film. He used a bellows camera attached to a microscope and after two years of failed attempts he finally succeeded at just 19 years old. It became his life’s passion and over the next 47 years he wrote journals explaining his photographic techniques and findings in detail. Bentley worked alongside William J. Humphreys of the U.S. Weather Bureau and in 1931 they published a book called “Snow Crystals”, a monograph including 2500 of Bentley’s photographs. He lived to see it in print, but died soon after of pneumonia after walking six miles through a blizzard.
Kenneth G. Libbrecht, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology who has become a modern day expert in the science of snow, stated that despite the crude methods which Bentley employed to take these photographs “he did it so well that hardly anybody bothered to photograph snowflakes for almost 100 years.”
“Snowflake” by Wilson Alwyn ‘Snowflake’ Bentley
“Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated.” – Wilson Bentley