Harold Edgerton

Harold ‘Doc’ Edgerton is known for his inventive use of a strobe light in photography to capture high-speed motion in photographs. This technique allowed him to freeze everyday objects and phenomena in motion, in both black and white and coloured film. Not only did Edgerton use the strobe light, but he also used a high shutter speed and allowed the film to roll through the camera as though it was a motion picture camera. It must be remembered, however, that the strobe light was key in capturing the motion.

He was first interested in photography through his uncle, Ralph Edgerton, who produced studio photography. Edgerton then went as far as producing his Engineering PhD paper on the use of strobe lighting in photography. He was interested in the extraordinary in the every day, capturing simple moments in a new perspective. Edgerton also made his first flash photograph without a motor, photographing running water, which transformed into crystal in the speed of the flash.

He used an exposure of up to 1/1,000,000 of a second, demonstrating everything from depressions of tennis balls and rackets to the controlled shuffling of cards between hands. The strobe light was still key here, with the momentary flash on the subject producing the image in the rolling film.

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