A "Dendrite Star" Snowflakes Photomicrographed by Wilson A. Bentley

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A microphotograph of a "Dendrite Star" one of the seven basic shapes of snowflakes, photographed by Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), known the world over as the "Snowflake Man." Bentley photographed at 17 with a bellows camera that had a microscope inside. He photographed his first snow crystal in 1885. He devoted the rest of his life to exploring these fascinating forms and photographed more than 5,000 snow crystals. A self-educated farmer, he pioneered "photomicrography," the photographing of very small objects. Bentley's interest in snowflakes led to his more recognized profession as a researcher and pioneer in photomicrographical studies between 1885 and his death in 1931. Bentley become the first person to photograph a single, unique snowflake.


Bentley, W. A (Wilson Alwyn) 1865-1931


Historic Images of the Smithsonian

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 31, Box 12, Folder: 17, Bentley Neg. # 591

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


c. 1890

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Photography
  • Snowflakes
  • Photomicrography


  • Pictorial works
  • Other
  • Albumen print

ID Number


Physical description

Number of Images: 1; Color: Black and white; Size: 3" h x 3 1/2" w; Type of Image: Other; Medium: Albumen Print

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