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.
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.
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.
"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,” Bentley said of his work in 1925. He passed away in 1931 at his farmhouse in Jericho, Vermont, after having photographed more than 5,000 snowflakes.
In this gallery, we revisit some of our favorites from Bentley’s work.