Wilson A. Bentley

On January 15th, 1885, Wilson Alwyn Bentley became the first known person to photograph a snowflake. A farmer by trade, the Jericho, Vermont resident was no stranger to the snow. Dead set on documenting the remarkable beauty of snow crystals, Bentley tinkered tirelessly until he found a way to catch them on a black velvet background and quickly transfer them to a microscope slide—just long enough to photograph individual flakes in isolation for the fleeting moment before they melted into oblivion.

Bentley would go on to capture more than 5,000 icy crystals over the course of his life, setting the precedent for snowflake photography and informing scientific opinion on the subject. In fact, it was Bentley (in collaboration with professor George Henry Perkins) who first made the case that no two snowflakes are alike, solidifying that arctic adage. It’s no wonder the farmer-turned-groundbreaking photographer became known as “Snowflake” Bentley.
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