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Customer Review

on January 5, 2001
W.A. Bentley spent fifty years painstakingly recording snowflakes, frost, rime, sleet and ice in all its forms. Even before "Snow Crystals" was published in 1931, his work was well known, and so popular that eventually a donor provided the (apparently large) amount of money needed to assemble this beautiful collection.
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.
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