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Graphics Science

19th-Century Photographer Captured 5,000 Snowflakes 80

tcd004 writes "Wilson Bentley began photographing snowflakes in 1885, and managed to immortalize more than 5,000 crystals before his death in 1931. Now his images are widely recognized and highly sought after. At the age of 19, 'Snowflake' Bentley jury-rigged a microscope to a bulky bellows camera and took the first-ever photograph of a snowflake. Photography then, particularly microphotography, was much closer to science than art. In a 1910 article published in the journal Technical World, he wrote, 'Here is a gem bestrewn realm of nature possessing the charm of mystery, of the unknown, sure richly to reward the investigator." The video embedded at the link above touches on another long-forgotten piece of history: a sketch of the photographers who captured arial views of assemblages of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from WW-I, carefully choreographed and arranged to form a Liberty Bell, a Stature of Liberty, a US flag... as forgotten as the origin of the WW-I term razzle-dazzle.
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19th-Century Photographer Captured 5,000 Snowflakes

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  • Arial? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2010 @12:49AM (#31050416)

    Ariel: A character in "The Tempest". Also "The Little Mermaid".
    Aerial: existing or living or growing or operating in the air
    Arial: A font from Monotype.

  • Public Domain (Score:5, Informative)

    by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:01AM (#31050474) Homepage

    Follow the "snowflakes" link and look at the bottom of the page:

    Copyright/Public domain works
    Wilson Bentley did not copyright his photographs and thus they are in the public domain and free to use for any purpose.
    No materials or images from this (or any other) website may be resold in any form (print or electronic).
    The Public Domain status does not give you the right to resell material unless you have access to the original source and permission from the owner to reproduce the material. Any published works of Public Domain material is only "Royalty free" if explicitly stated.

    WTF? Someone just doesn't understand what Public Domain really is.

  • Re:Public Domain (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:14AM (#31050540)

    That would be you. You can copyright works containing public domain artwork. Only the original photographs are in the public domain, not the reproductions offered by the site.

  • Re:Public Domain (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:26AM (#31050594)

    (Sigh) Bridgeman v. Corel [] says otherwise.

  • Re:Public Domain (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2010 @02:09AM (#31050748)

    Actually, no it doesn't. First, Bridgeman, while influential, isn't settled law; it is, after all, only a district court opinion, although admittedly from a highly influential court. Second, Bridgeman does not say that every photograph that includes a public domain work in the image is in the public domain, only that a "slavish copy" does not have sufficient originality to be copyrightable. The website video is certainly copyrightable, even though it contains some pictures of prints on display at the museum, and you cannot extract from it the frames that show exhibit prints of the snowflakes and claim those frames are in the public domain. If anything, Bridgeman was probably an example of bad lawyering, since the lawyer never attempted to dispute the "slavish copying" allegation made by the defendant.

    So you could not make an exact copy of a public domain image and get a copyright in your copy, but put the image into a movie, or put the image into a picture that you can show was creatively lit or arranged, and you probably can.

  • Re:Public Domain (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2010 @02:14AM (#31050764)

    (I'm the annoying sigher; apologies) No. A spark of originality/creativity is part of the requirement for copyrightability. (above case and Feist v. Rural Telephone [])

  • Dazzle Camouflage (Score:5, Informative)

    by AtomicSnarl ( 549626 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @02:15AM (#31050768) Homepage
    For those wondering how wild colors and stripes on ships would hide them from U-Boats -- it didn't. It made it hard for the U-Boat captains to properly evaluate their targets. The colors and pattern would disrupt the length, angle, and speed clues seen though binoculars at a distance, and through the periscope when preparing to fire torpedoes.

    Radar didn't exist during WWI, so U-Boats cruised on the surface with lookouts who could eyeball ships or ship smoke at 10 miles, maybe 20 on a good day. Given their 15-18 knot surface speed [] and 6-8 knot submerged speed, the U-Boat now had only 30 minutes or so to get into proper position ahead of the approaching ship -- about 4000-6000 yards (2-3 nautical miles) ahead and to one side of the approaching target. WWI German torpedoes [] could travel 6600 yards at 36 knots, for a max run time of just over 5 minutes. A target ship moving at 12 knots would move 400 yards in a minute. A 600 foot ship travels it's length in only 30 seconds. It's this tiny window that the Razzle-Dazzle would screw up. If the U-Boat captain guessed wrong on the ships movement due to painted false bow waves and extra bow/stern lines, the firing solution would be bad.

    Remember that the ship view from the U-Boat was usually against cloudy skies of some sort in the North Atlantic. Add in the blue haze with distance, and the yellows, purples, and pinks start to blur into the background blue-gray sky. Now think of that sight through a wet periscope a few feet above the water, and you get the idea.

    WWII had a brilliant camoufalge example in the bizarre sounding Pink Spitfires [] used for reconnaissance []. The pink shade was selected to blend against the just-past-sunset twilight sky and clouds when those aircraft flew, and it was very effective.
  • Re:Off topic (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 07, 2010 @05:25AM (#31051192)

    Do you work for them or something?

    I mean, do you seriously suppose that nobody knows how advertising works on the internet? The ad is not on slashdot, it was targeted at you personally because your browser reported that you have been browsing sites that the ad server associates with you having an interest in scantily clad models..

    AdBlockPlus ffs!

  • Re:Dazzle Camouflage (Score:3, Informative)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Sunday February 07, 2010 @06:01AM (#31051312) Homepage

    Correct. However the link in the summary is incorrect - dazzle camouflage was widely used in WWII. Some of the schemes used by the USN can be seen here [].
    It's worth pointing out however that proper studies of the effectiveness of dazzle camouflage seem to have never been carried out.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @09:27AM (#31051974)

    I think he's trying to reference Newton's statement "If I have been able to see further than others, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants."

    I can see where he got confused; Galileo was in fact one of the "giants" Newton was referencing in the quote (Kepler was another). The great thing about that quote is that it's actually a stealth insult. Newton wrote it to a rival named Robert Hooke, who was somewhat, um, short. That exact wording is Newton's, and it is the best known expression of the thought, but the metaphor predates Newton considerably; the earliest known example of it was by Bernard of Chartres around 1130, and it was commonly used throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Fear is the greatest salesman. -- Robert Klein