Visionary Engineer
January 2, 2010 3:34 PM   Subscribe

Visionary Engineer : the Harold 'Doc' Edgerton digital collection consolidates the large body of work by the pioneer of stroboscopic high-speed photography. Iconic pictures, for instance. [via Slice of MIT]

Previously: one, two, three.
posted by peacay (10 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, never in my life did I dream that I could look through Doc Edgerton's notebooks. Digitization projects like these are priceless.

His work extending the camera and the flash, and his relentless focus on applying technology have long been a huge inspiration to me. Cheers to this post.
posted by fake at 4:24 PM on January 2, 2010

Thanks peacay, best of the web right here!

Speaking of notebooks I ran across Linus Pauling's complete notebooks (72 years worth!) the other day at the Oregon State site. They were pretty boring, actually, but maybe that's because I'm not a chemist.
posted by Rumple at 4:47 PM on January 2, 2010

nice find! thanks!

I'm lucky to get the darn dog to look at me long enough to snap the shutter...this stuff impresses me!
posted by HuronBob at 5:20 PM on January 2, 2010

Danger: Stroboscopic Light
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 6:11 PM on January 2, 2010

I wonder how you go about choosing which f-stop to use when photographing an exploding nuke.
posted by vapidave at 6:22 PM on January 2, 2010 [3 favorites]

Doc Edgerton's strobe photography was obviously groundbreaking in 1957 - now any doofus with a digital camera and an ordinary flash can do the same thing.

Also, I can't find it now, but I believe Edgerton also designed the film (as well as the camera) used to photograph atomic bomb tests - the cool thing about the film being that he sandwiched together several pieces of film of differing sensitivities ("speeds") that would all be exposed at the same time, allowing the camera to capture different exposures of the same image - effectively, analog HDR.
posted by kcds at 8:20 PM on January 2, 2010

Jacques Cousteau called him "Papa Flash" - he created the first underwater strobe, as well as the photographic tech needed to record the US atomic weapons tests. A phenomenal engineer.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:41 PM on January 2, 2010

In 1965 at the clueless age of 17 I was a launch driver for the MIT crew team on the Charles River in Cambridge, MA. One day I was asked to come to the boathouse early to drive Doc Edgerton up and down the Charles River basin. Although he was old enough to be my grandfather, his enthusiasm for his work was evident. He showed up with a young assistant but Doc did all the heavy lifting. As I remember it he had a tow rig with things he dropped into the water connected to boxes in the boat. We had a great old time going up and down the river as he explained to me how he was using a strobe light and a camera to take pictures of the bottom of the muddy Charles. I couldn't have been more unaware of what he was talking about but he couldn't have been more patient with me. No, the experience didn't change my life and I didn't suddenly want to grow up to be an engineer. However, a few years later, after I realized what a great man he was, I appreciated the lesson in teaching I had learned from a man who had asked me to call him Doc.
posted by birdwatcher at 7:56 AM on January 3, 2010

As one of the many people who have spent a great deal of time in the last several years on this project, it's very exciting to see it here!

There's a place on the site for collecting personal stories like birdwatcher's, and everyone is encouraged to participate with tagging or transcribing notebook pages, commenting on technical, aesthetic, or historical aspects on any of the photos.
posted by nonane at 9:59 AM on January 3, 2010

Thanks birdwatcher and nonane, it was great to hear from you both!
posted by peacay at 5:50 AM on January 12, 2010

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