Soap bubble shadow, 1933
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06 Shadow Photography

Shadow photography is a simple way to stop a fast-moving object.  No camera or lenses are used.  Instead, the object – for instance, a bullet in flight – passes between the flash and the film.  Using wires or a microphone for synchronization, the flash goes off when the bullet is just in front of the film.  As it flies by, the bullet casts a shadow on the film and the shadow prevents that part of the film from being exposed.  The developed film shows the dark image of the bullet.  The earlier photographs of bullets in flight were made this way in the nineteenth century, but Edgerton also used the technique for a range of subjects, from bullets to brine shrimp.

WATCH THIS VIDEO! Lecturer Charles E. Miller creates a shadow photograph.

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Edgerton Lab Notebook 32, Page 05