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Snow Crystals (Dover Pictorial Archive) Paperback – June 1, 1962
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From the Back Cover
"Offers valuable material not only to students of crystallography but also to those of the arts."—The New York Times
Did you ever try to photograph a snowflake? The procedure is very tricky. The work must be done rapidly in extreme cold, for even body heat can melt a rare specimen that has been painstakingly mounted. The lighting must be just right to reveal all the nuances of design without producing heat. But the results can be rewarding, as the work of W. A. Bentley proved.
For almost half a century, Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snowflakes in his workshop at Jericho, Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. In 1931, the American Meteorological Society gathered together the best of these photomicrographs, plus some slides of frost, glaze, dew on vegetation and spider webs, sleet, and soft hail, and a text by W. J. Humphreys, and had them published. That book is here reproduced, unaltered, and unabridged. Over 2,000 beautiful crystals on these pages reveal the wonder of nature's diversity in uniformity; no two are alike, yet all are based on a common hexagon.
The introductory text covers the technique of photographing snow crystals, classification, the fundamentals of crystallography, and markings. There are also brief discussions of the nature and cause of ice flowers, windowpane frost, dew, rime, sleet, and graupel.
The book is of great value both to students of ice forms and for textile and other designers who can use the natural designs of these snow crystals in their work. Every photograph is royalty-free; you may use up to 10 without fees, permission, or acknowledgement.
"A most unusual and very readable book."—Nature
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Top Customer Reviews
There is a small amount of text at the front of the book, which is moderately interesting. It contains a description of how to take these pictures for yourself, if you'd like to; and a classification of the kinds of snowflake and other ice forms depicted here. The bulk of the book, however, is made up of well over two thousand black and white photographs, the vast majority of them of single snowflakes. You can get an idea of what they look like by clicking on Amazon's image of the cover picture, above; in the book, the images are white on black. You may also want to visit snowflakebentley.com, which contains more examples, and more information about Bentley himself (there is almost none in this book). In most or all cases, Bentley went to the trouble of making a duplicate negative of each snowflake and then cutting out, by hand, the finely detailed image, so that the background to the picture would be pure black.
The results are spectacular. The snowflakes are ethereally beautiful, and the variety is just stunning. However, in case it's not clear from what I've said so far, this is a contemplative book. It's not a book to read: it's a book to browse through, put away, and get out again another snowy day. Children will like it, but just to glance at, not to go through steadily.
The book contains more than just photographs. Part one has some really interesting stuff on different techniques used throughout history for reproducing the images of snow and ice crystals, along with some very interesting descriptions about the preparation and effort that go into taking a high-quality photographic plates. This section also describes how the crystals are classified, and some meteorological background information about how these crystals form, and how their structure leads to other phenomena in nature, such as the rings you sometimes observe around a bright moon on a cold winter night.
Part 2 is only a few pages long (compared with part 1, which is 20) and discusses related phenomena such as the frost on windowpanes, dew and frost, rime ice, and glaze. Most of the book (pages 24 through 226) consists of reproductions of photographic plates showing snow crystals, with examples also of ice, window-pane frost, dew and frost, and glaze. A typical page shows 12 snow crystals, so there well over 2,000 examples in this book of just about every six-pointed crystal you can imagine.
Now for the really interesting part. You've heard that no two snowflakes are the same. Right? Well, read this book very carefully.Read more ›
The book helps challenge the stereotypical "snowflake" (a spatial dendrite) reproduced in K-12 classrooms and commercial store windows. The International Classification of Snow has 80 "basic" types of snow crystals. This book helps everyone make sense of all types. Snow is unique in that it is the most unstable substance on Earth - constantly changing while it is forming, falling and continuing to change once it reaches ground. Even those areas that never experience snow (falling during a storm or accumulated on the ground) actually receive much of their precipitation as snow - the crystals just happen to melt on the way down to the ground.
A 10-year boy once provided me with a simple explanation of what snow really is: "Dead clouds!" Bentley helps us see inside the clouds and inside snowflakes - a special, long-term gift.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Considering how far back in time and equipment available to do these photos it's an amazing work. That said this book does not capture the full transparent beauty of a snowflake... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Oldmutt
Bentley's story is amazing, and it gives me a new appreciation for snow.Published 9 months ago by Douglas Lyle Graham
Love this book. We bought it along with the kids' book "Snowflake Bentley." My son was excited to see the work of the man the story book was about, and he has been... Read morePublished 14 months ago by MommiesCanReadMinds
My students loved looking at the Snowflakes! I ordered it after reading Snowflake Bentley to my class. Nice winter story for elmentary students.Published 15 months ago by Rena Edwards