Water from a faucet - 1932

Major collection: Science & Technology
Named collection: Harold E. Edgerton Collection
Object type: negative
Maker: Date made: 1932
Materials: synthetic
Measurements: 8" x 10"

This is the first photograph that Edgerton ever made that was not of a motor. Urged by his wife and colleagues to try the magic of the strobe on everyday happenings, he transformed plain running water into crystal. Edgerton was always curious about water--- drops, streams, splashes, and, of course, the ocean, so it is not surprising that his earliest and last photographs were of drops, splashes, and streams of water. Timing the moment of exposure was simple in this photograph: the shutter was opened in darkness and the flash set off manually. But Edgerton often used more complex methods of synchronization, such as (1) mechanical contact, where action physically moves wires into contact to complete the electrical circuit and fire the strobe; (2) accoustic synchronization, using a microphone to pick up a sound (such as the crack of a gunshot or the smack of a bat striking a baseball) and electronic timing circuit that delays the flash from firing for a small amount of time; and (3) optical means, where the subject interrupts a beam of light aimed at a photoelectric cell (not unlike an "electric eye" door opener) to release the flash. All of these methods were used by Edgerton to ensure the synchronization of the flash with various events. We should not think, however, that synchronizing the flash with the action was a straightforward, sure-fire process. The set-ups often required tweaking and sometimes hundreds of attempts were made before the camera yielded the image with the information and the beauty that Edgerton hoped to reveal.


Related Subjects

Water -- Harold E. Edgerton Negative Collection subject term
Stop-Motion Photography
Splashes-Photographs -- Harold E. Edgerton Negative Collection subject term