light up the night

article about lighting up the sky for photos in 1941

Toronto. Photography played a key roll in WW2. High flying aircraft with aerial cameras mapped the ground searching for enemy troops and armaments. A bright idea, tested over upper NY State, was the ‘light bomb’ described in this January 1941 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. The camera was flown ‘a mile high’ at night while far below a bomb exploded illuminating a wide area to daylight brightness.

Photographs were taken and then processed. Various colours of light were used in the trials to bring out camouflaged areas. Years later, we had people like the late Ken Smith talk about the runs over both enemy and allied territory during the war and after to map out the terrain. Two runs of film could be aligned to create so called ‘hyper stereo’ images exaggerating hills and mountains to aide in mapping the country side.

We owe a thank you to that fine photographic historian, George Dunbar for sharing this snippet of history with us and bringing to mind some of the presentations  we were privileged to see and hear.

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