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HomeContentsThemes > Stroboscopes and stroboscopy

Contents

Introduction
943.01   Stroboscopes and stroboscopy
Henry Fox Talbot
943.02   Henry Fox Talbot: Rendering moving objects motionless with an electrical spark (14 June 1851)
Harold E. Edgerton
943.03   Harold E. Edgerton: Examples
943.04   Harold E. Edgerton: Baton
943.05   Harold E. Edgerton: Bullets
943.06   Harold E. Edgerton: Milk drop
943.07   Harold E. Edgerton: Night experiments at Stonehenge
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated.
 
  
Introduction 
  
943.01   Scientific >  Stroboscopes and stroboscopy 
  
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A stroboscope is a mechanical or electronic device used to make moving objects appears stationary or slowed down so their properties can be studied. although there were developments in the nineteenth century by Joseph Plateau[1] and Simon von Stampfer[2] it was in the twentieth century that Etienne Oehmichen[3] and Harold E. Edgerton perfected high speed flashes. The beauty of the photographs created by Harold E. Edgerton at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology raised public awareness of the stroscope and his photographs have become both scientific evidence and collectible as works of art.[4] 
  
Henry Fox Talbot 
  
943.02   Scientific >  Henry Fox Talbot: Rendering moving objects motionless with an electrical spark (14 June 1851) 
  
Sir Charles Wheatstone had noted in 1834 that moving objects could be visually "frozen" with a spark[5] and on 14 June 1851 Henry Fox Talbot demonstrated at the Royal Institution that a moving object could be photographically captured with clarity through the use of a spark of light from an electrical discharge. A letter Talbot wrote to Michael Faraday[6] the day after his demonstration explains the procedure:
M. Faraday Esq
 
Lacock Abbey, Chippenham
June 15/51
 
Dear Sir
 
The important experiment tried yesterday at the Royal Instn[7] succeeded perfectly. A printed paper[8] was fastened to a disk, which was then made to revolve as rapidly as possible. The battery was discharged, and on opening ye Camera it was found to have received an impression. The image of the printed letters was just as sharp as if the disk had been motionless. I am not aware of this experiment having ever been made before
 
I should be happy to repeat it in the presence of some of our Scientific friends, but I wish first to obtain effects on a greater scale of development and therefore I should be very glad if you would devise means of augmenting the brilliancy of the flash. Two methods occur to me which I submit to your judgment. (1) Professor Hare[9] of America says that if a flat coil of copper ribbons is placed in the circuit the spark from a Leyden jar is greatly increased in brilliancy. Supposing this to be equally true of a battery, would it not be desirable to adopt it?
 
(2) if the battery discharge were taken thro' a tube lined spirally with pieces of tinfoil (one of which is at the R. Instn) would not the total effect of these numerous sparks light up the room more than the single discharge does?
 
If a truly instantaneous photographic representation of an object has never been obtained before (as I imagine that it has not) I am glad that it should have been first accomplished at the Royal Instn
 
Believe me Dear Sir Ever Truly Yours
H. F. Talbot[10]
 
  
Harold E. Edgerton 
  
943.03   Scientific >  Harold E. Edgerton: Examples 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Harold Edgerton (1903-1990): A pioneer of so many scientific uses of photography from stroboscopes, high speed flash in the 1930's capable of speeds of 1/100,000th of a second, the capturing of a birds wings in flight - these and many more are in the key book on his work - Stopping Time: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton.[11]
 
The scientific photographs of Harold Edgerton cross the boundaries into popular art because of their virtuosity and ability to clearly show a complex movement in a single shot. Using stroboscopes the entire action or a unique moment is captured on a single photograph.[12] Eadweard Muybridge captured each movement in a separate photograph and the Bragaglia Brothers a blur of motion but Edgerton combined the two with clarity.
 
The reason why these images are so popular is that they amaze the public with the fact that the movement of a speeding bullet can be captured with such precision.
 
This tradition is continued by people like Professor Andrew Davidhazy at the Rochester Institute of Technology who has used a wide variety of photographic techniques to enhance scientific understanding. 
  
943.04   Scientific >  Harold E. Edgerton: Baton 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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943.05   Scientific >  Harold E. Edgerton: Bullets 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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943.06   Scientific >  Harold E. Edgerton: Milk drop 
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943.07   Scientific >  Harold E. Edgerton: Night experiments at Stonehenge 
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During the Second World War in 1944 Harold E. Edgerton carried out experiments photographing Stonehenge using powerful flashes on aircraft to illuminate the ground.[13] In the book of his photographs Stopping photographs (1987) this experiment is described:
Illuminated by a 50,000 watt-second flash in the bay of a night-flying airplane 1500 feet above the ancient monoliths, Edgerton's pictures of Stonehenge served as a demonstration to the Allied commanders of the potential for nighttime reconaissance photography. Edgerton was on the ground with a folding pocket camera braced on a fence post as the plane flew overhead. Simultaneously, the monument was recorded in perfect detail by a camera in the plane. The target was chosen because it was remote enough to allow the equipment to be tested without arousing unwanted interest.[14]
 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau (1801-1883) was a Belgian physicist to "demonstrate the illusion of a moving image. To do this he used counter rotating disks with repeating drawn images in small increments of motion on one and regularly spaced slits in the other" - the phenakistoscope.
    (Accessed: 24 November 2013)
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Plateau
     
    10 December 1830, the English physicist Michael Faraday (1791-1867) gives a lecture at the Royal Institution. The paper was published in February 1831: "On a peculiar Class of Optical Illusions" and he later gave the credit for the discovery to Joseph Plateau.
     
    For Plateau's original paper - J. Plateau, 1832, “Sur un nouveau genre d’illusions d’optique”, Correspondance mathématique de L'Observatoire de Bruxelles, Brussels, , pp. 365-368. Available on Google books if a little difficult to locate because of differences in volume numbers. 
      
  2. Λ Simon Ritter von Stampfer (1792-1864), Austrian inventor and mathematicician.
    (Accessed: 24 November 2013)
    Stampfer Discs and Phenakistiscope Discs
    users.telenet.be/thomasweynants/opticaltoys-phena.html 
      
  3. Λ Étienne Oehmichen (1884-1955) patented the first electronic stroboscope in 1917. (Accessed: 24 November 1917)
    centrale-histoire.centraliens.net/stories/rev49.pdf 
      
  4. Λ Harold E. Edgerton & James, R. Killian, 1954, Flash!: Seeing the Unseen By Ultra High-speed Photography, (Boston: Charles T. Branford); Harold E. Edgerton & James, R. Killian, 1984, Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography, (The MIT Press); Harold Edgerton; Estelle Jussim & Gus Kayafas (ed.) , 1987, Stopping Time, The Photographs of Harold Edgerton, (New York: Abrams); Roger Bruce (ed.), 1994, Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley, (Rochester, NY: George Eastman House)
     
    The Edgerton Digital Collections (EDC) project - MIT
    (Accessed: 24 November 2014)
    edgerton-digital-collections.org/
    The site allows viewing and browsing of over 22,000 still images of Edgerton materials, 150 films and video that have been restored and are being digitized; access to approximately 8,000 pages from Doc Edgerton’s hand-written laboratory notebooks which have been recently digitized; and hundreds of high-speed photographic images.
     
      
  5. Λ Charles Wheatstone, 1 January 1834, "An Account of Some Experiments to Measure the Velocity of Electricity and the Duration of Electric Light ", Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, vol. 124, pp. 583-591.
    This was brought to my attention by Larry Schaaf in a posting to the Yahoo Photohistory list (17 January 2014). 
      
  6. Λ Michael Faraday (1791-1867), English scientist known for his work on electricity and elecxtromagnetism. 
      
  7. Λ Royal Institution, London 
      
  8. Λ The printed paper used was copy of The Times of London. 
      
  9. Λ Robert Hare (1751-1858), Professor of Chemistry at University of Pennsylvania. 
      
  10. Λ Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot. Document Number 6429. 15 June 1851 
      
  11. Λ Harold Edgerton; Estelle Jussim & Gus Kayafas (ed.) , 1987, Stopping Time, The Photographs of Harold Edgerton, (New York: Abrams) 
      
  12. Λ Harold E. Edgerton & James, R. Killian, 1954, Flash!: Seeing the Unseen By Ultra High-speed Photography, (Boston: Charles T. Branford); Harold E. Edgerton & James, R. Killian, 1984, Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography, (The MIT Press) i 
      
  13. Λ The Edgerton Digital Collections (EDC) project - MIT
    (Accessed: 24 November 2014)
    edgerton-digital-collections.org/
     
    "Aerial night photography, Stonehenge (Wiltshire, England, UK) ", 1944,The Edgerton Digital Collections (EDC) project - Mit Museum number: HEE-SC-02835
    For a ground-based photograph - "Unititled [Night at Stonehenge]", nd (presumably 1944?), The Edgerton Digital Collections (EDC) project - Mit Museum number: HEE-NC-44001 
      
  14. Λ Harold Edgerton; Estelle Jussim & Gus Kayafas (ed.) , 1987, Stopping Time, The Photographs of Harold Edgerton, (New York: Abrams), p. 77 
      

alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  

HomeContents > Further research

 
  
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Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
  
Harold E. Edgerton 
  
Bruce, Roger (ed.), 1994, Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley, (Rochester, NY: George Eastman House) [Δ
  
Edgerton, Harold E., 2000, Exploring the Art and Science of Stopping Time: A CD-ROM Based on the Life and Work of Harold E. Edgerton, (The MIT Press) [Δ
  
Edgerton, Harold E. & Killian, James R., 1954, Flash!: Seeing the Unseen By Ultra High-speed Photography, (Boston: Charles T. Branford) [Second edition] [Δ
  
Edgerton, Harold E. & Killian, James R., 1984, Moments of Vision: The Stroboscopic Revolution in Photography, (The MIT Press) isbn-10: 0262550105 isbn-13: 978-0262550109 [Δ
  
Edgerton, Harold; Jussim, Estelle & Kayafas, Gus (ed.), 1987, Stopping Time, The Photographs of Harold Edgerton, (New York: Abrams) [Δ
  
 
  
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com 
  

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

 
Andrew Davidhazy  (1941-) • Harold E. Edgerton  (1903-1990) • Henry Fox Talbot  (1800-1877)
HomeThemesScientific > Stroboscopes and stroboscopy 
 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
  
Movement and motion 
 
  

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Stroboscopes and stroboscopy

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
ThumbnailScientific: Movement 
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Released (May 8, 2010)
 
  

HomeVisual indexes > Stroboscopes and stroboscopy

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
   Photographer 
  
ThumbnailHarold E. Edgerton: Baton 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHarold E. Edgerton: Bullets 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHarold E. Edgerton: Milk drop 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHarold E. Edgerton: Night experiments at Stonehenge 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
 
  
   Themes 
  
ThumbnailStroboscopes and stroboscopy 
 
 
  
Refreshed: 27 August 2014, 04:34
 
  
 
  
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