/ by Sarah Jamison

  SNOWFLAKE WARS Part 2: Gustav Hellmann (1854 – 1939) was a German meteorologist who was influenced by Wilson Bentley’s work. He began photographing his own snowflakes and found that none of his images looked like the perfect ones being sold all over the world by Bentley. Hellmann began publishing articles critisizing Bentley’s approach to his photographs and charged that Bentley’s images were produced through significant manipulations of the pictures and that Bentley was physically cutting out imperfections from the photograph negatives. In response, Bentley argued that not only did he practice such manipulations, but that not doing so would be inaccurate. What ensued was essentially a debate on scientific ethics, with Hellmann arguing that altering the pictures led to misrepresentations of the snow crystals and Bentley arguing that untouched pictures misrepresented the crystals that in their truest form were nothing short of perfection. In the end, Bentley’s photographs held up to the test of time. Not many of Hellmann’s snowflake photograph’s have survived, and many do not know his work or his tie to Bentley.

SNOWFLAKE WARS Part 2: Gustav Hellmann (1854 – 1939) was a German meteorologist who was influenced by Wilson Bentley’s work. He began photographing his own snowflakes and found that none of his images looked like the perfect ones being sold all over the world by Bentley. Hellmann began publishing articles critisizing Bentley’s approach to his photographs and charged that Bentley’s images were produced through significant manipulations of the pictures and that Bentley was physically cutting out imperfections from the photograph negatives. In response, Bentley argued that not only did he practice such manipulations, but that not doing so would be inaccurate. What ensued was essentially a debate on scientific ethics, with Hellmann arguing that altering the pictures led to misrepresentations of the snow crystals and Bentley arguing that untouched pictures misrepresented the crystals that in their truest form were nothing short of perfection. In the end, Bentley’s photographs held up to the test of time. Not many of Hellmann’s snowflake photograph’s have survived, and many do not know his work or his tie to Bentley.