Harold Eugene Edgerton
The inspiration behind my photos stems from researching and reading into the life and history of Harold Eugene Edgerton; also known as Doc Edgerton. Throughout the course of his life, beginning on April 6th, 1903, to when he passed on January 4th, 1990, Doc Edgerton accomplished many things in the fields of Engineering and Photography.
Edgerton in 1963
Source Doc Edgertons Wiki page
Edgerton was a highly educated man who acquired multiple awards regarding the work he did through his lifetime, some of these include a Bronze Medal from the Royal Photographic Society in 1934, The Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1966 and the National Medal Science in 1973
Doc Edgerton would often collaborate with well-known explorers Jacques Cousteau and Paul Kronfield. During these ventures he designed custom underwater photographic equipment such as electronic flashes and new sonar techniques that were used to take never seen before snapshots of the underwater and uncover unfound shipwrecks. While doing his work with Jacques Cousteau he acquired the nickname ‘Papa Flash’ which stuck in the photographic circles.
Doc Edgerton’s invention
Doc Edgerton’s primary focus for this assignment is his creation of the Stroboscopic genre of photography. Through this invention, Edgerton combines Science and Art to enlighten the world to things that they would never see with the naked eye.
The following photos are some examples of what I believe are some of his most striking pieces of work
Pete Desjardin Diving (1955)
Source Edgerton Digital Collections
Bob running (1939)
Source Edgerton Digital Collections
Doc Edgerton’s Technique and ideas behind them
Doc’s strobe light equipment could flash up to 120 times per second allowing him to capture fast moving events such as a balloon going through the stages of popping or a bullet passing through a piece of fruit / playing card. The technique of combining the camera with the stroboscope allowed Edgerton to amplify the capabilities of the human eye to see in micro-second vision, these events could be as brief as one three-millionth of a second in time. With his invention and technique, he could capture full motions in one singular image.
Doc Edgerton would take his pictures over a long exposure time and his device would flash to capture each stage of a full movement all in one image.
My work produced using Stroboscopic photography
After my research on Edgerton, I wanted to combine Stroboscopic Flash Photography with my favourite style of photography, Portraiture.
I have had a speed light in my possession for around 3 months, yet never attempted to use it in the past, Edgerton’s work inspired me to produce my own images using similar techniques with modern technology.
When I had first begun reading the manual for my speed light (Model: Neewer NW655), I read into how to use the ‘Multi Stroboscopic Flash’ Mode. There is a mathematical equation which can be used to find out what shutter speed you should use.
‘Flash Number / Flash Frequency = Shutter Speed’
Using default calculations for flash
My first attempt as shown above was using the default calculations in the instruction manual for the purpose of testing. I used a 2 second shutter speed, the number of strokes was 10 and the frequency was 5Hz. I kept my ISO on 100 due to the bright flashes and my aperture varied between 7 and 8.
Experimenting to find a preferred outcome
Hand movement experimenting
After my first attempt I decided to lower aperture to around 4-5 to allow more light into the image. I wasn’t happy with the original outcome due to the darkness. I was much happier with the outcome of my second attempt, and I felt like with some more tuning I would have a finished product that I was happy with.
I was pleased with the way that this technique made the movement of the hands and arms seem like illusions. What I like the most about this style of photography is that it makes it seem like there has been photo manipulation in a programme such as photoshop, whereas it was all taken in one instance.
With the image on the left, I decreased the shutter speed to 4 seconds exposure time to get a more ghost like effect on the hands and increased the speed of the movement of the hands. As displayed above, you can partially see through the hands, as if they were translucent.
With the image on the right, I simply moved my face from left to right making sure to move in a fluid motion to properly expose each part of the movement.
All images taken were edited in Lightroom Classic, cropped to size and a pre-set I have made was applied and adjusted to my liking. I decided to use black and white because I think it suits the style of my images.