Bentley went through a lot of trial and error to perfect his technique of photographing snowflakes through a microscope. The result, he hoped, would highlight the beauty of nature and the uniqueness of each flake.
No Two Alike: The First Photos of Snowflakes
Published in 1923, these vintage images highlight the beauty and mystery of snow crystals.
In the late 1800s, a self-educated Vermont farmer by the name of Wilson Bentley made the first successful image, or “photomicrograph,” of a single snowflake. He used a bellows camera attached to a microscope.
Some of Bentley’s striking work was published in National Geographic magazine in 1904. Another series of his images ran in 1923, highlighting the delicate beauty and unique geometry of snow crystals.
Today, we still marvel at the way the tiny flakes reflect and refract light, and how no two seem to be exactly alike. Although a scientist found two in a Wisconsin snowstorm that looked identical in 1988, they were most likely different at the molecular and atomic level, argued Caltech physicist Kenneth Libbrecht.