June 13, 2024
Montpelier, US 80 F

Haunted Vermont, Folklore & much more…

Unveiling the genius of Wilson Bentley: Vermont’s Snowflake Photographer

Snowflake Bentley
Table of Contents hide

Have you heard the tale of Snowflake Bentley?

Wilson Bentley, also known as Snowflake Bentley, was a photographer from Vermont who became famous for his pioneering work in photographing snowflakes. His unique and intricate photographs of individual snowflakes captured the beauty and complexity of these delicate ice crystals. In this article, we will delve into the life and work of Wilson Bentley, exploring his fascination with snowflakes, his journey towards becoming a renowned snowflake photographer, and the lasting legacy he left behind in Vermont and beyond.

Key Takeaways:

  • Wilson Bentley, also known as Snowflake Bentley, was a photographer from Vermont.
  • He was famous for his pioneering work in photographing snowflakes.
  • Bentley's photographs captured the unique beauty and complexity of individual snowflakes.
  • His fascination with snowflakes led him on a journey to become a renowned snowflake photographer.
  • His legacy as a snowflake photographer extends beyond Vermont, influencing the scientific and artistic communities.

Who was Wilson ‘Snowflake' Bentley?

Wilson Bentley, born on February 9, 1865, in Jericho, Vermont, developed a fascination with snowflakes from a young age. As a boy, he marveled at the intricate patterns and unique shapes of individual snowflakes, spending hours studying and trying to draw them.

Despite his limited formal education, Bentley's passion for learning led him to explore the world of science and photography. He combined his interests in farming and photography, using his camera and microscope to capture the beauty of snowflakes.

Bentley's family played an important role in supporting his pursuits, and their encouragement fueled his passion. They recognized his talent and provided him with the resources and support he needed to delve deeper into his snowflake studies.

Tragically, Bentley passed away in 1931, but he left behind a remarkable legacy. His work as a snowflake photographer and scientist continues to captivate audiences, showcasing the intricate beauty of snowflakes and deepening our understanding of their complexity. Bentley's photographs are not only a testament to his artistic eye but also a valuable scientific resource. His contributions to the field of snowflake photography and his enduring legacy have inspired countless photographers, scientists, and snow enthusiasts around the world.

How did Bentley Photograph Snowflakes?

Wilson Bentley, the renowned snowflake photographer, developed innovative techniques and used specialized equipment to capture the intricate beauty of snowflakes. Let's explore the methods and challenges he encountered in his snowflake photography journey.

The 1885 Microscope that Bentley Used in Snowflake Photography

In 1885, Bentley acquired a microscope, which became his primary tool for capturing the mesmerizing details of snowflakes. This high-quality microscope allowed him to observe and photograph the delicate intricacies of each snow crystal.

Bentley's Art of Capturing Snow Crystals on a Microscope Slide

Bentley was a master of positioning snow crystals on a microscope slide. He skillfully arranged each snowflake to ensure optimal lighting and focus, allowing him to capture the exquisite details of these delicate ice crystals.

Overcoming the Difficulties in Snowflake Photography

Snowflake photography posed several challenges for Bentley. One of the most significant hurdles he faced was the rapid melting properties of snowflakes. However, his passion and dedication drove him to find innovative solutions to overcome these difficulties and capture the transient beauty of snow crystals.

How Bentley Retrieved and Preserved the Snowflakes Before They Melted

Bentley devised methods to retrieve and preserve snowflakes before they melted. Using careful techniques, he gently collected snowflakes onto glass slides, preventing their rapid melting. This allowed him to preserve the fragile beauty of each snowflake and capture it in his photographs.

The Journey from Negative to Print in Bentley's Photographs

Bentley perfected the process of transforming his negatives into stunning prints. With meticulous attention to detail, he produced high-quality prints that showcased the delicate intricacies and unique patterns of the captured snowflakes.

What Sets Bentley's Snowflake Photography Apart?

Wilson Bentley's snowflake photography stood out for its exceptional quality and attention to detail. His photographs showcased the perfect symmetry and intricate patterns of individual snowflakes, revealing the unique beauty of each crystal.

The Perfection of Bentley's Snowflake Photos

Bentley's photographs captured the astonishing perfection of snowflakes, highlighting their delicate and intricate features. His keen eye for detail and careful manipulation of lighting and focus resulted in photographs that beautifully showcased the unique characteristics of each snowflake. The level of precision and artistry in his work set it apart from other snowflake photography of his time.

Bentley's Discovery: No Two Snowflakes are Alike

Through his extensive collection of photomicrographs, Bentley made the groundbreaking discovery that no two snowflakes are alike. This revelation challenged the prevailing belief at the time that all snowflakes were identical. Bentley's meticulous observations and documentation demonstrated the incredible diversity and individuality found within snow crystals, further enhancing the wonder and fascination surrounding these natural formations.

Bentley and the First Known Photomicrographs of Snow Crystals

Bentley's pioneering work in snowflake photography led him to create the first known photomicrographs of snow crystals. By combining his passion for photography and his understanding of the microscopic world, Bentley was able to capture the intricate details of these tiny ice formations. His photomicrographs provided scientists with invaluable visual records and insights into the structure and formation of snowflakes, revolutionizing the study of snow science.

Bentley's snowflake photography not only captivated the artistic community but also made significant contributions to the field of atmospheric science. His photographs provided researchers with valuable data on the formation, growth, and behavior of snowflakes, enhancing our understanding of the atmospheric conditions under which these beautiful crystals develop. Bentley's meticulous documentation of snowflakes helped scientists unlock the secrets of weather patterns, climate, and precipitation.

The Influence of Bentley’s Snowflake Photography on Modern Snow Science

Bentley's work continues to have a lasting impact on modern snow science research. His detailed photographs and meticulous observations have become a valuable resource for scientists and meteorologists studying snowflakes and their role in weather and climate. Bentley's legacy has paved the way for further exploration and understanding of the science behind snowflakes, inspiring new generations of researchers and photographers to continue his important work.

How did Bentley's Work get Published?

Wilson Bentley's photography of snowflakes gained widespread recognition through various publications and exhibitions. His captivating work showcased the beauty and uniqueness of snowflakes, captivating a wider audience and contributing to his reputation as a pioneering snowflake photographer.

Bentley's First Published Snowflake Photograph in a Magazine

One of Bentley's significant accomplishments was the publication of his first snowflake photograph in a magazine. This milestone allowed him to share the mesmerizing beauty of snowflakes with a larger audience, introducing them to the intricate details and patterns that make each snowflake truly unique.

The Role of Bentley's Supporter and Sponsor, Mary

Bentley was fortunate to have the support and sponsorship of a key individual named Mary. Her belief in his work and dedication to promoting his photography played a crucial role in helping Bentley share his remarkable snowflake imagery with the world.

Bentley’s Publications and Exhibitions

Bentley's passion for snowflake photography led him to publish numerous articles in both scientific and popular journals. Through these publications, he shared his insights into not only snowflakes but also frost and other atmospheric phenomena. Additionally, his work was exhibited, allowing people to appreciate the delicate beauty and scientific significance of his snowflake photographs.

Bentley's Notability Beyond His Lifetime

Even after his passing, Wilson Bentley's contributions to the field of snowflake photography continued to be recognized and celebrated. His legacy lives on as his work earned him lasting recognition as a renowned figure in the world of snowflake photography and gained appreciation for its scientific and artistic merit.

Wilson Bentley's Enduring Legacy in Vermont and Beyond

Wilson Bentley's legacy extends far beyond his lifetime. In his hometown of Jericho, Vermont, a dedicated exhibit celebrates his life and work, showcasing his photographs and sharing the story of his remarkable achievements.

Paying Tribute: The Snowflake Bentley Exhibit in Jericho, Vermont

The Snowflake Bentley exhibit in Jericho, Vermont pays tribute to Wilson Bentley's extraordinary contributions as a snowflake photographer. This exhibit provides visitors with a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in Bentley's world, exploring the beauty and intricacy of his snowflake photographs. Through captivating displays and interactive exhibits, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of his techniques and appreciate the artistry behind his work.

Wilson A. Bentley’s Contributions to the State University

Wilson Bentley's contributions to snowflake photography and scientific research have had a lasting impact. His work continues to inspire and educate aspiring scientists and photographers, shaping their understanding of snowflakes and influencing their own creative endeavors. Bentley's legacy lives on in the classrooms and laboratories of the university, where students and researchers study his techniques and build upon his pioneering discoveries.

The Snowflake Bentley Project: Continuing the Legacy

The Snowflake Bentley Project is a testament to Wilson Bentley's enduring legacy. This project, inspired by Bentley's passion for snowflakes, engages students and researchers in the study of snow crystals, fostering a deeper appreciation for their beauty and scientific significance. Through the project, Bentley's work continues to inspire new generations to explore the wonders of snowflakes and to push the boundaries of snowflake photography.

Bentley's Enduring Influence in Science and Art

Wilson Bentley's snowflake photography has had a profound influence in both the scientific and artistic communities. His meticulous observations and stunning photographs continue to inspire awe and wonder, captivating scientists, artists, and nature enthusiasts alike. Bentley's work has pushed the boundaries of scientific understanding, revealing the intricate beauty and unique nature of snowflakes. In the world of art, his photographs are celebrated for their artistic quality, serving as a source of inspiration for photographers and artists seeking to capture the beauty of nature.

The Global Impact of the “Snowflake Man” Bentley

Wilson Bentley's snowflake photography has had a global impact, as people around the world recognize and appreciate the unique beauty of snowflakes. His legacy lives on through the appreciation and fascination with snowflakes, as his images continue to be shared and admired across borders and cultures. Bentley's work serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness of nature and the beauty that can be found in the smallest of details.

Snowflake Bentley for Kids


Wilson Bentley, also known as Snowflake Bentley, has left an enduring legacy in the scientific and artistic communities through his remarkable work as a snowflake photographer in Vermont. His dedication to capturing the intricate beauty of snowflakes and his groundbreaking discoveries about their uniqueness have forever transformed our understanding of these delicate ice crystals.

Bentley's photographs continue to inspire awe and wonder, serving as a reminder of the intricate beauty that can be found in nature. From the symmetrical patterns to the delicate details, his images showcase the mesmerizing complexity of individual snowflakes.

Through exhibits, publications, and ongoing research, Bentley's legacy lives on. His contributions to the world of snowflake photography and science are celebrated in his hometown of Vermont and beyond. People around the world recognize the name Wilson Bentley, Snowflake Bentley, as a pioneer in his field and the man who opened our eyes to the extraordinary world of snowflakes.

Inspired by Bentley's work, scientists and artists continue to explore the unique beauty and scientific significance of snowflakes. His passion and devotion serve as a powerful example of how curiosity and perseverance can lead to groundbreaking discoveries. Wilson Bentley's impact on the world of snowflake photography will remain firmly etched in history, ensuring that his name and his contributions are never forgotten.


Q: Who was Wilson Bentley, the photographer of snowflakes?

A: Wilson Bentley was a pioneer in the field of photomicrography and is best known for his detailed photographs of snowflakes. From his early years, had a fascination with snow. Using an old microscope, he was the first person to ever capture a single snowflake on film in a clear and precise manner, thus becoming the famous “photographer of snowflakes”.

Q: When and where was this photographer of snowflakes born?

A: Bentley was born on a farm in Vermont in 1865. His fascination with nature, particularly during winter, began from an early age.

Q: What made snowflakes difficult to photograph for Bentley?

A: Snowflakes were difficult to photograph due to their delicate nature and tendency to melt quickly. Bentley developed an apparatus that included a compound microscope with a camera attached. Each flake was caught on a blackboard, then transferred onto a glass plate to photograph. The process had to be done quickly due to the fast-melting nature of the snowflakes.

Q: How many snowflakes did the photographer of snowflakes capture during his lifetime?

A: Bentley captured more than 5,000 images of snowflakes throughout his lifetime. Each specimen showcased the intricate and unique nature of each snowflake.

Q: Did Bentley photograph anything other than snowflakes?

A: Yes. Bentley also photographed other forms of nature including dew drops, and frost. He even did some rain studies for the US Weather Bureau.

Q: What year did Wilson Bentley, the photographer of snowflakes, pass away?

A: Wilson Bentley unfortunately passed away in 1931 from pneumonia, not long after walking home in a severe blizzard. His work is still recognized and appreciated today for its contribution to understanding snow and other winter phenomena.

Q: Where can I find more about Bentley's work?

A: You can find a biography of Wilson Bentley, including his diary entries and images, on various sources online. His work is kept alive by numerous scholars and educators who preserve his legacy. You can also read about Bentley on Wikipedia, through books displayed below or seek out content that is dedicated to his work in various libraries and archives.

Snowflake Bentley: A Caldecott Award Winner
Snowflake Bentley: A Caldecott Award Winner
Snowflake Bentley By Martin Jacqueline Briggs Azarian Mary ILT; Martin, Jacqueline Briggs (Author)
$7.19 Amazon Prime
Snowflakes in Photographs (Dover Pictorial Archive)
Snowflakes in Photographs (Dover Pictorial Archive)
English (Publication Language); 80 Pages – 09/18/2000 (Publication Date) – Dover Publications (Publisher)
$11.99 Amazon Prime
Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Bentley
Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Author); English (Publication Language); Houghton Mifflin (Publisher)
Snowflake Bentley: Man of science, man of God
Snowflake Bentley: Man of science, man of God
Used Book in Good Condition; Gloria May Stoddard (Author); English (Publication Language); 128 Pages – 06/14/1979 (Publication Date) – Concordia Pub. House (Publisher)
Snowflake Bentley
Snowflake Bentley
Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand); Sean Astin (Actor); Paul R. Gagne (Director) – Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Writer) – Sarah Kerruish (Producer)

Q: Who continued Bentley's work after his death?

A: After Bentley's death, several researchers continued his work and studies in snowflake photography. Humphreys, Blizzard, and Stoddard are notable names who worked on further improving the technique to capture the intricate details of snowflakes.

Q: What happened to the snowflake photographs that Bentley had taken?

A: After Bentley's death, his collection was donated to the Buffalo Museum of Science, where it remains as one of the most detailed repositories of snowflake photographs. This is thanks to Bentley's meticulous work in capturing and preserving each flake in as much detail as possible before they melted.

Q: What was unique about the lens Bentley used for capturing snowflake photographs?

A: Bentley used a compound microscope attached to a bellows camera. The compound microscope allowed him to magnify the snowflakes and capture their intricate design, and the camera then took the photo through the microscope's lens, producing a greatly detailed image.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe to our email list for the latest news!

Previous Article

Witch of Wall Street: Hetty Green’s Legacy in Bellows Falls, Vermont

Next Article

The Elgin Springs House of Panton, Vermont Fades Into Obscurity

You might be interested in …

Share via