Harold Edgerton and Complications of the 'Photographic Instant'

by Kris Belden-Adams | Download PDF

Although much of our existing scholarship has marginalized Harold Edgerton’s work as popular illustrations of scientific/technical advance that held sway over a mass audience by offering visual proof of the fascinatingly unreal realism of everyday objects in atomized bits of time, a detailed look at exemplary samples of Edgerton’s stroboscopy reveals this body of work to be far more complex in its expression of time.

Through a case study of the image Milk Drop Coronet, this essay examines the means by which Edgerton’s famous photographs conjure faith in photography’s ability to surpass humans’ own unaided vision while offering a paradoxically innate abstraction of the atomized instant, with respect to the experience of lived time’s ongoing continuum.

A closer look at the series Death of a Light Bulb also evokes multiple possible collective narratives, each possessing a creative relationship to time, and often also conjuring subjective, changeable personal associations in viewers. As such, these fraction-of-a-second-exposure photographs express time in many more ways than as a brief view of a Barthesian temporal “that-has been.”

Thus, while our existing discourses tend to examine Edgerton’s work as a positivist scientific/technical milestone that reveals peculiar and wonderful views of the 1,000,000th-of-a-second, his stroboscopic expressions of time are far more layered and complex.


Perhaps no other photographer has brought the suspended strangeness of the isolated fraction-of-a-second of time to the sustained attention of a mass audience more effectively than Dr. Harold Edgerton. His stroboscopic images of accessible, familiar objects – including milk drops; hummingbirds in flight; golf clubs, tennis rackets, and cleated feet making contact with balls; water drops and streams; shock waves; bullets in motion; and dancers – have had lasting appeal within mainstream American visual culture (Fig. 1).

To create photographs such as these, Edgerton placed a camera with an open shutter in a pitch-black room and set off a flash of strobe lighting one microsecond – or 1/1,000,000th of a second – in duration to illuminate his subjects. Edgerton’s work affirmed that the speed of photography was no longer dictated by the speed of shutters (for they can be done away with), but, rather, by the much more rapid speed of light. Edgerton’s stroboscopy has been lauded as a technological milestone in the medium’s mastery of the temporal fragment.

Edgerton’s work also immediately gained mass popularity. In 1932, Edgerton’s photographs were reproduced in trade publications such as Electronics andReview of Scientific Instruments, and a representative collection of his images was printed in successive months in the mainstream magazine Technology Review.[1] But news of Edgerton’s work quickly spread beyond the scientific community within just a few years of his successful early experiments. In 1933, this body of work was published in the popular periodical American Golfer.[2] In 1934, his life and work were presented in American Magazine.[3] Two years later, Edgerton was profiled in Fortune magazine.[4] Edgerton’s stroboscopic photographs also were part of a regular feature, “Speaking of Pictures,” in Life magazine from 1936-1941.[5] Edgerton assembled a book of his stroboscopic images, Flash! Seeing the Unseen by Ultra High Speed Photography, which received critical acclaim when released in 1939. At the request of the Kodak Corporation, Edgerton set up a booth at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City that featured a baseball-shooting cannon and allowed visitors to take their own strobe pictures. Just eight years after he introduced the stroboscope (1931), Edgerton’s photographs not only became the subject of mass-cultural fascination, but he also rapidly became a respected scientist, photographer, and author. This notoriety and status as American cultural icon continued throughout his life. Edgerton became an Academy-Award-winning film-maker (1940), received a Medal of Freedom for his World War II strobe-based reconnaissance photographs (1946), and helped locate remains of the sunken Titanic with his rapatronic devices (1986).

Although Edgerton’s stroboscopic images also were exhibited by the Royal Photographic Society (1931), and also were included in the Museum of Modern Art’s seminal “Photography 1839–1937” exhibition organized by Beaumont Newhall (1937), Edgerton’s work has received very little scholarly attention in art-historical discourse. Its position within art history has been challenged by its status as “visual culture” and by the fact that he was not the first person to experiment with high-speed photography by spark or strobe illumination. William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the medium’s founding fathers, explored this approach to image-making 80 years earlier.[6] Most of the existing literature focuses on contextualizing Edgerton’s work with relation to his biography and scientific interests, and on positioning Edgerton within an historical master-narrative continuum that includes motion-study photographers such as Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge.[7]  That is to say, contextualizing Edgerton’s photographs has taken precedence over analyzing them.

In an effort to help fill this gap in our scholarship, this essay will examine Edgerton’s most quintessential stroboscopic photographs, Milk Drop, Coronet, (1936) and the four-image series Death of a Light Bulb /.30 Caliber Bullet (1936). These photographs, photography historian Geoffrey Batchen notes, have come to typify a “quintessential cliché of the photographic.”[8] That is to say, they are the archetypes for our conceptions of the medium’s conventional, fraction-of-a-second relationship to time. However, it will be argued that they also reveal the abstract nature of the medium’s atomized view of time and also suggest that photography has a complicated relationship to truth.


Case Study I. – Milk Drop, Coronet:

The Weird, Wonderful World of Expanded Stroboscopic Vision

Figure 2: Harold Edgerton, Milk Drop Coronet, 1936, gelatin silver print, 18 1/8 in. x 14 5/16 in. (The Harold % Esther Edgerton Foundation/The Minneapolis Institute of Art)


One photograph, according to Edgerton himself, has particularly come to exemplify his stroboscopic work. Edgerton describes Milk Drop, Coronet (1936) (Fig. 2) in this caption:


A diadem, decorated with pearls above the rim, produced by a drop of milk falling on a plate covered with a thin layer of milk. In the land of splashes, surface tension fashions delicate shapes too ephemeral for any eye but that of the high-speed camera. This print is one of the classic photographs in the history of photography.[9]


As a scientific study, Milk Drop, Coronet explores the behavior of liquid surface tension. To make this photograph, Edgerton poured milk into a shallow plate. He then dripped a series of drops of milk down into the liquid in the dish, and calibrated the strobe lighting to flash at various intervals. Milk Drop, Coronet is one in a series of photographic studies Edgerton made of such drops and splashes.

In Milk Drop, Coronet, Edgerton’s stroboscopic exposure freezes the climatic crown-like formation of a splash as the surface tension of the plate of milk is stretched to its limit by the impact of a drop of milk. As the droplet presses into the dish of milk, a ring of liquid rises in a ring shape and shoots out into 23 tiny tentacles. A miniscule droplet forms from each of those extensions. Another falling sphere of milk approaches at the very top of the frame. Time is implied as both an active present (the culmination of the ephemeral splash) and an anticipatory future tense (as another drop of milk approaches and the tiny droplets emerging from the crown prepare to fall). The entire image also represents a millionth-of-a-second in the past (1936), and implicitly makes reference to the repetitive process of experimentation from which this frame was gleaned.

Viewers of Milk Drop, Coronet enjoy unprecedented visual access to this millionth-of-a-second, infinitesimal slice of time in which an absolutely ordinary event – the splash of a singular drop of liquid – provides an extraordinary view of a dramatic liquid crown. Here, photography reveals its capacity to extend the sensitivity of human vision and to provide a fascinating visual record of the delicate, appreciable details within our everyday world. Photographs such as Milk Drop, Coronet humble viewers. They remind their audience of both the limitations of human vision and the beauty that might lie beyond our purview. Thus, Milk Drop, Coronet conveys a new world within our own. The mass circulation and widespread popularity of these scientific images brought about general acceptance of photography as a partner to science in providing us with a portal to these previously inaccessible worlds. Moreover, in Milk Drop, Coronet the entity of time itself, Edgerton implicitly argues, is ours to explore – and perhaps even master, photographically.

Edgerton explains the peculiar and popular realism of the atomized seconds that are given visual representation in his stroboscopic images in a caption for Wes Fesler Kicking a Football (Fig. 1): “Every football fan has seen a placement kick, but no one has observed what actually happens in the fraction of a second when the booter’s toe meets the pigskin.”[10] Viewers take Edgerton’s images on faith because they have no means of verifying them. But, as Philip Prodger suggests, the fraction-of-a-second exposure was regarded in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries as synonymous with “the instantaneous,” the “authentic,” and the “trustworthy.”[11] The unique realism offered by stroboscopic photographs creates a visual frame of reference for the previously unappreciated microsecond and testifies to its existence. However, as images that represent a slice of time that is unverifiable and inaccessible to the unaided human senses, Edgerton’s stroboscopic images function as abstractions, with respect to the ongoing linear nature of “lived” time. Viewers must take images like Milk Drop, Coronet (Fig. 2) on faith, trusting that such photographs will offer a more “objective” view of time than our human sensorum.

Indeed, although we use the word frequently, “time” itself is a difficult entity to define. St. Augustine of Hippo mused about the challenge of this task in his book Confessions:


For what is time? Who can readily and briefly explain this? Who can even in thought comprehend it, so as to utter a word about it? But what in discourse do we mention more familiarly and knowingly, than time? And, we understand, when we speak of it; we understand also, when we hear it spoken of by another. What then is time? If no one asks me, I know: if I wish to explain it to one who asketh, I know not.[12]


As St. Augustine suggests, time is deeply familiar, yet confounding in its complexity and in the diversity of its experience. It is real, and its effects can be felt. Time’s passage alters the human body and calibrates human biological rhythms, such as the heartbeat, circadian sleep rhythms, life-span awareness, and the child-bearing “biological clock.”[13] Yet these temporal cadences each have distinct and differing intervals, and are highly variable in duration from person to person. Thus, while the evidence of time’s passage is palpable, time itself is an intangible, abstract entity that is individually and subjectively experienced.


Case Study II. – Death of a Light Bulb:

The Temporal ‘Otherness’ of the Photographic Instant

Figure 3: Harold Edgerton, Death of a Light Bulb/.30 Caliber Bullet, 1936, gelatin silver print, 16 7/16 in. x 19 15/16 in. (Harold Edgerton/The Harold & Esther Edgerton Foundation, 2001/Palm Press, Inc.)


Additional expressions of time’s abstract, subjective nature are apparent in Edgerton’s stroboscopic series Death of a Light Bulb/.30 Caliber Bullet (1936) (Fig. 3). Death of a Light Bulb consists of four photographs arranged in two rows of two images each. To make the series Edgerton placed a bulb in total darkness. His stroboscopic device was triggered when a microphone registered sound (in this case, the discharge of a bullet), and an electric current prompted the firing of a flash. Edgerton’s device emitted a burst of light lasting one 1/1,000,000th of a second, which provided sufficient light exposure upon the film.

Yet even a millionth-of-a-second exposure, Charles Sanders Peirce suggests, embodies duration, and an easily overlooked complexity: “[e]ven what is called an ‘instantaneous photograph,’ taken with a camera, is a composite of the effects of intervals of exposure more numerous by far than the sands of the sea.”[14] Indeed, it would take 1,000 nanoseconds to comprise one microsecond, and 1,000,000 picoseconds to make one microsecond. Time, in these various infinitesimal forms, has a mathematical, abstract quality that exceeds the sensitivity of human perception and temporal experience. For instance, the sequence of events in Death of a Light Bulb would have unfolded faster than human cognition could process it, had we been the victim of the shooting. According to Max Perchick, human cognition occurs about ten-thousand times slower than the 1,000,000th-of-a-second stroboscopic exposure. The impossibility of the human body’s ability to relate stroboscopic time enables us to regard this photographic practice’s images as abstractions and as temporal “others.”

The clever title of the photographic series Death of a Light Bulb/.30 Caliber Bullet, provides the framework within which the meaning of these images unfolds. When “read” in sequential order (from top to bottom, left to right), the four photographs represent the sequential passage of a bullet through a light bulb, broken into presumably equal intervals of time. In other words, Edgerton leads his viewers to follow a plot of “death” from its inevitability (implied by an approaching bullet) in the first frame to the slow entry and internalization of the bullet by the bulb in the next two frames. In the final photograph, the bullet exits its victim, leaving a spattering of dust and a cracked, soon-to-collapse bulb in its wake.

The unfolding of Edgerton’s narrative plot depends upon viewers to associate the images with each other, in linear order, and to imagine the unseen events that transpired within the durations left unseen between these images. Images such as Death of a Light Bulb – which unfold sequentially, like comic stripscreate meaning by what Barthes suggests is a system of “relay.” He explains:


Here (in cartoons and comic strips) text (a snatch of dialogue say) and image stand in a complementary relationship. The words, as well as the images, are fragments of a more general syntagm, and the unity of the message is realized at a higher level, namely, at the level of the story, the anecdote, the diegesis.[15]


Observers readily engage in supplementing the images with narrative to create the cohesive “story” for Death of a Light Bulb. Literature scholar Karen Parna has suggested that conjuring such narratives “enable[s] the receiver to recognize concrete objects and situations but [it] also provide[s] a means to grasp and analyse abstract notions, such as space, time, movement, change.”[16] In order to appreciate the implied duration of the light bulb’s death – from the anticipation of being shot to the reality and aftermath of such a fate – viewers must temporalize and project imagined, creative narratives upon the series of photographs. These narratives are individualized, mutable, and subjective.

As observers similarly conjure creative narrative stories to position Edgerton’s images with respect to each other in Death of a Light Bulb, they share the heightened, slowed awareness of time during what Edgerton tells us is the light bulb’s final millionth-seconds of life. Edgerton grants the light bulb the personifying experience of death, leading viewers to also consider the bulb’s shape as vaguely resembling that of a human head. Viewers feel sympathy for the light bulb, but also are intrigued by the macabre details of seeing every detail of its murder. An ambivalent mix of dread and curiosity pervades our experience, conjuring not only the object’s death but also our knowledge of our own inevitable deaths. The title of the series thus evokes in viewers a consideration of time’s perceived differential speed during the final moments of life while also prompting observers to imagine the end of their own lives at some point in the future.

As we look at photographs of a light bulb that already has “died,” we are therefore reminded of Barthes’s suggestion that photographs have a peculiar and complex manner of linking the finality of death to time’s passage. Barthes, for example, wrote that the photograph has a peculiar capacity to represent the past in the present, and thus to testify to the passing of time.[17] Therefore, Barthes argued, all photographs speak of our own death’s inevitability in the future. Thus, as viewers approach Edgerton’s Death of a Light Bulb, multiple relationships to time are conjured simultaneously, all with death as their final consequence.

In a similar fashion, André Bazin wrote that photography atomizes and “embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption.”[18] The “corruption” to which Bazin refers is the violence of lived time’s steadily flowing, relentless stream – which inevitably brings death to all of us. Photography halts time, sidestepping its cruel agency and the certainty of death. Our fascination with the medium is, in part, motivated by our own time anxiety and by the fear of death.

While Edgerton’s title implies the light bulb’s “death,” it is not obvious which image – if any – in the series reveals the final “death” moment. Perhaps the unseen, expected collapse of the bulb marks the “death.” Maybe the bulb “dies” in the final photograph, as the bullet’s damage has been done. It is unclear. By gathering four sequential images under a single title, representing a single event (a death), Edgerton implies that all the photographs are simply stills from the movie of life. In the first frame, a bullet that appears as a white blur approaches the light bulb at more than twice the speed of sound from the left.[19] The light bulb is unscathed. Time in the first frame of the series is represented as an anticipatory future tense, as viewers know that about 1/1,000,000th of a second later, the inanimate-but-personified light bulb will be struck by the projectile and “die.”

As viewers begin to make temporal associations with the series Death of a Light Bulb, they are drawn to the details in each image that conjure additional representations of photographic time. In the first image, viewers anticipate the bullet’s contact with the light bulb, a meeting that is stilled in the photograph just before it occurred, but which transpired in 1936. In other words, we are looking at the future “death” of a light bulb that actually transpired 74 years ago. Our sense of tense distinction collapses upon itself.

Compression shock waves moving at 15,000 feet per second precede the bullet in the second image, making small cracks in the bulb as the bullet begins to enter the light bulb. A puff of glass dust and several cracks precede the bullet. The compression waves move faster than the projectile itself, lending the image a sense of past tense (“the bullet lags behind the shock waves”), present-ness (“the bullet just entered the light bulb”), and future anticipatory tense (as viewers, in a Barthesian sense, await the full collapse and “death” of the light bulb). In addition, the shock waves and bullet operate separately, yet simultaneously and in tandem, within the same microsecond-long exposure-time duration.

In Edgerton’s third image, no bullet appears at all. The projectile is contained inside the light bulb, and viewers anticipate its continued future travel through the other side – and the completion of the light bulb’s destruction and “death.” The other side of the light bulb has begun to crack even before the bullet penetrates it, as a result of the compression wave of force that precedes the bullet. It foreshadows another certain future event, the collapse of the bulb. The trail of the bullet is marked by the small billowing of crushed glass powder, which trails the bullet's passage and implies the past-tense event of the bullet’s penetration of the bulb. But viewers also appreciate the peculiar tense stasis of the present-tense exposure-time duration, during which the bullet presumably is suspended in mid-flight inside of the bulb.

In the final image, the bullet has finished its travel through the light bulb, leaving the bulb’s surface fully marred with cracks. The bullet’s path is filled with an arrowhead-shaped residue of glass dust. A past tense (marked by the physical proof of the bullet’s travel through the light bulb) is implied in this image, along with a present tense (the bulb has not yet collapsed, but is enjoying a fraction-of-a-second of pre-collapse stasis), and an anticipatory future tense (the light bulb is going to crumble).

But Edgerton ends his series with this image, leaving further future-tense possibilities unspecified. Viewers are left to wonder: What does the light bulb’s collapse look like? Why does he deny us one more image? Where does the bullet go next? Edgerton leaves these aspects of Death of a Light Bulb unresolved, denying his observers temporal closure. As such, a lingering uncertain future tense looms beyond the frames of this image.


Case Study II. – Complicating Projected Narratives:
The Altered Series and Edgerton’s Photographic Process


Closer examination of the light bulb’s cracks in the second, third and final images reveals that they are in different locations in images two, three, and four. This divulges a secret: Edgerton’s photographs were not taken in consecutive microseconds, with an even interval between exposures. The sequence is not sequential. Edgerton’s alteration of the series reveals failings in the design of the stroboscope. Film could not be advanced in less than a microsecond, so no more than one exposure can occur for each light-bulb-shooting event.

Instead, Death of a Light Bulb is comprised of four images of four different light bulbs as they are penetrated by four different bullets, from a session of photographing during which, most likely, dozens to hundreds of bulbs “died” in order for Edgerton to have enough images from which to compose a series. As an altered series, Edgerton’s four chosen photographs reveal microseconds of non-consecutive, non-linear, creatively reconfigured time to make a new narrative: the Death of a Light Bulb (not of four light bulbs). The individual photographs may be (unverifiably) regarded as truthful to the microsecond-long appearance of spatial relations of a light bulb and bullet in the context of four separate light bulbs’ “deaths,” but the series is not truthful to the appearance of a singular bullet’s passage through a light bulb. What, then, does the series of photographs offer, if not an objective document? This image depicts not what we see, but what we knowbullets move through space with great speed – even if we can only see the start and end of that movement with our unaided eyes. The photograph has an estranged relationship to perceived reality, and thus is an abstraction. Still, though, Edgerton’s photographs are truthful to the appearance of a bullet in mid-flight as it approaches, enters, occupies and leaves these four light bulbs.

Instead, then, of readily projecting a linear temporal narrative of imagined events that transpired between the frames to support the plot suggested by Edgerton’s title (this is a light bulb’s “death”), viewers may begin to imagine the additional narrative possibilities implied by the interventions of the photographer.  One might imagine Edgerton’s many failed attempts to calibrate his machines properly so that he might capture an image of a bullet in mid-flight or a bullet entering, exiting or residing inside of a light bulb. Viewers may visualize the rubble of countless “dead” light bulbs on Edgerton’s laboratory floor, or may imagine his difficulty selecting photographs for the series from pages of contact sheets, and editing them with the task of implying the fairly even temporal intervals of sequential steps of the “death” of a light bulb. Edgerton, like the editor of a cinematic work, reorganizes images from non-sequential durations in time to lead his viewers to impress a linear narrative upon the series.

Nonetheless, we are left to wonder: Why did Edgerton select thesescenes to illustrate, over the possibility of others? Perhaps we can surmise that Edgerton was drawn by the first image’s uncanny suspension of a bullet in mid-air, in mid-flight. Conceivably, the destructive, advancing force of the compression shock waves – inaccessible to the unaided human eye – likely inspired him to pick the second photograph. Capturing a visual representation of the decisive microsecond in which the bullet was contained entirely within the bulb must have involved technical prowess, trial-and-error and luck. Similarly, the final image represents a fragile, fully cracked light bulb on the verge of collapse. Perhaps the challenge of achieving such images motivated Edgerton to select a representation of these microseconds as the third and fourth photographs of the series. Knowledge of the altered nature of this series of photographs draws viewers’ attention to Edgerton’s hand in the image-making process. This, in turn, adds additional dimensions of time, as observers consider the temporal specificities of Edgerton’s presence and various facets of his working processes.

A closer look at the multiple temporal references in the series Death of a Light Bulb reveals the expression and interpretation of time to be subjective, changeable and personal. As such, consideration of this series and of Edgerton’s photograph Milk Drop, Coronet suggests that fraction-of-a-second-exposure photographs express time in many more ways than as a view of a transportable slice of the temporal past. Viewers are quick to interpret and activate a narrative for the series that is located both inside and outside the picture frame, surpassing and supplementing the materiality facticity of exposure-time duration.  Like our experience of time itself, Edgerton’s stroboscopic expressions of temporality are intangible, abstract, and individually and subjectively experienced. While our existing discourses tend to examine Edgerton’s stroboscopy biographically, as an extension of late-nineteenth-century motion studies, his work thus presents the opportunity to take a closer look at the complex nature of expressing and interpreting time in photography. Edgerton’s peculiar views of everyday objects in miniscule slices of time engage viewer-centered, subjective projections of plural, mutable photographic truths. As such, Edgerton’s images invite discussions of the inadequacy of describing time in any objective manner.

[1] Harold Edgerton and K. J. Germeshausen, “Stroboscopic Photography,” Electronics 5, no. 1 (July 1932): 220-221.; Harold Edgerton and K. J. Germeshausen, “The Mercury Arc as an Actinic Stroboscopic Light Source,” Review of Scientific Instruments 3, no. 10 (Oct. 1932): 535-542.

[2] Harold Edgerton and K.J. Germeshausen, “Catching the Click with the Stroboscope,” American Golfer (November 1933).

[3] “Interesting People,” American Magazine (May 1934): 48.

[4] “Portrait,” Fortune (November 1936).

[5] “Speaking of Pictures…This is a Cock Fight,” Life (Dec. 14, 1936): 2-3. “Speaking of Pictures…Stroboscopic Lights Make Action Stand Still,” Life (November 20, 1939): 10-13.; “Speaking of Pictures…These Show Science True and Beautiful,” Life (July 28, 1941): 9-11.; “Speaking of Pictures…These Culminate 70 Years of High-Speed Photography,” Life (October 27, 1941): 13-15.

[6] While working alone in Michael Faraday’s basement laboratory at London’s Royal Institution in 1851, William Henry Fox Talbot attached a page of the London Times newspaper to a wheel that was rotated in front of a camera containing one of his new and highly sensitive “Amphitype” plates in a darkened room. As the wheel turned, Talbot exposed a few square inches of the newspaper page for about 1/2,000th of a second, using spark illumination from Leyden jars. The printed letters in the photograph, Talbot reported in a note to Faraday, were “just as sharp as if the disk had been motionless.” Gail Buckland, Fox Talbot and the Invention of Photography (London: Scholar Press, 1980), 107-118.

[7] Scholarly literature on Edgerton’s stroboscopic works includes: Roger Bruce, Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley (Rochester, N.Y.: The Publishing Trust of George Eastman House, 1994). Bruce’s book provides a view of Edgerton’s biography and scientific interests and details Edgerton’s photographic studies, in a chronological narrative. Marta Braun also ties Edgerton’s work to an historical narrative about capturing motion with photography. This endeavor, Braun suggests, also preoccupied Eadweard Muybridge and Étienne -Jules Marey: Marta Braun, "Time and Photography," in Tempus Fugit: Time Flies, ed. Jan Schall (Kansas City, Mo.: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2000), 132-143.; Marta Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Étienne-Jules Marey (1830-1904) (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 135-136. James Elkins takes a phenomenological look at Edgerton’s later rapatronic photographs: James Elkins, "Harold Edgerton's Rapatronic Photographs of Atomic Tests," History of Photography 28, no. 1 (2004): 74-81. Elkins’s article is unusual among existing scholarship for providing an extended analysis of an Edgerton photograph, instead of a contextual view of his work.

[8] Geoffrey Batchen, Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 2001), 125.

[9] Harold Edgerton and James R. Killian, Jr., Flash! Seeing the Unseen by Ultra High Speed Photography (Boston: Hale, Cushman & Flint, 1939), iii. James R. Killian, Jr., who co-authored books with Edgerton, was the editor of Technology Review at the time Edgerton’s photographs were published in that magazine.

[10] Ibid, 76.

[11] Prodger, Time Stands Still, 43.

[12] St. Augustine, Confessions, Book XI, Chapter XIV, Section XVII.

[13] Joost A. M. Merloo, Along the Fourth Dimension: Man's Sense of Time and History (New York: John Day Company, 1970), 62.

[14] Charles Sanders Peirce, Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, Charles Hartstone and Paul Weiss, eds. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932), 267.

[15] Roland Barthes, "Rhetoric of the Image," Image, Music, Text. ed. and trans. Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977), 41.

[16] Karen Parna, “Narrative, Time and the Fixed Image,” in Time, Narrative and the Fixed Image, Mireille Ribiere and Jan Baetens, eds. (Atlanta: Rodopi, 2001), 31. The author’s spelling has not been changed.

[17] Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981),96.

[18] André Bazin, "The Ontology of the Photographic Image," Film Quarterly 13, no. 4 (Summer, 1960): 4.

[19] For technical details about the making of this image, please see: Stephen Dalton, Split Second: The World of High-Speed Photography (Salem: Salem House, 1984), 26-27.