Magnesium Flash Photography

Capturing the image was also about capturing movement… so in other words there was still a need to address the question of making something stand still! To find a solution to this problem, people very quickly started thinking about using a powerful and rapid-acting light source, like a magnesium flash.
 
In 1808, Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of the arc lamp, discovered how to isolate magnesium in its pure metallic form; nevertheless, we would have to wait until 1860 to understand its light-giving properties and to develop a process for refining it efficiently. The first time magnesium was used in photography was in 1864.
 
Numerous patents were lodged for lamps which used magnesium in ribbon form, producing a bright light whose duration was linked to the length of ribbon used; but these processes remained expensive, and still did not make it possible to take a truly instantaneous photograph.
 
The following years were dedicated to finding ways to produce a true magnesium flash, and from 1880, powder flash was developed with the addition of an oxidant for improved lighting, as well as various mechanisms facilitating its usage, such as spirit-lamp burners, or more basic devices such as powder trays, the use of which was not without its dangers!
 
 
Illustration:
Revolver photogénique, Dr Ranque, 1890
En actionnant une tirette sur le côté de l’appareil, on faisait descendre dans un tube une dose de poudre de magnésium contenue dans un réservoir; à l’aide d’une poire, on projetait cette dose par un conduit dans la flamme de la lampe à alcool (cylindre latéral) munie d’un étouffoir; le boîtier contenait encore une réserve d’allumettes
Grande Place
1800 Vevey/Suisse
Heures d’ouverture:
du mardi au dimanche
de 11h à 17h30

To view virtual tour properly, Flash Player 9.0.28 or later version is needed. Please download the latest version of Flash Player and install it on your computer.