Speed indeed!

A Bomb test c1952 – taken using an ultra high speed shutter.

Toronto. Good friend George Dunbar sent me a photo and note regarding high speed shutters a few days ago on the 6th of August. For many years, top shutter speeds of 1/500 or 1/1000 were considered the best you could expect. In the 1950s, electronic flash came on the market with even shorter exposure speeds. However, to capture chemical changes even faster shutters were necessary.

George writes, “Today is the 72nd anniversary of the world’s introduction to the power of the atom. On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan and the nuclear age was upon us. World War Two was almost immediately brought to an end.

“During the subsequent testing of thousands of nuclear-weapons, extremely high-speed camera shutters were developed to study the effects in detail. Dr. Harold Edgerton of MIT and his firm (Edgerton, Germeshausen & Grier, Inc. — EG&G) were contracted to provide higher-speed shutters than had ever before been contemplated.

Edgerton had earlier been credited with investigations into electronic flash equipment (strobe photography). EG&G developed the “rapatronic” shutter, capable of speeds up to one-millionths if a second. One of the amazing ultra-high-speed photographs showing the instant of an atomic bomb explosion is shown here [above left].

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