flash … bang …

a safer flash in 1926

Toronto. In the 19th and early 20th century indoor and night photography required flash for a decent exposure. Unfortunately, the magnesium powder that created a bright light when ignited was unstable and unless great care was taken, it would suddenly explode creating both a flash and a loud bang frightening and potentially injuring both subject and photographer alike.

In the 1920s,  a clever German design used a new process to convert the magnesium powder to a ribbon and housed the unused reel of magnesium in a fire-proof box. Only enough ribbon was exposed to give a suitable amount of light. Eventually, the magnesium was contained in a glass bulb and ignited by a small battery when ever a brief burst of light was needed.

This drawing and article was discovered by George Dunbar in the February 1926 edition of the magazine Science and Invention during his research into photographic history. We are very grateful that our friend and fellow PHSC member shared his find with us.

This entry was posted in history and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.