Sunday, February 12, 2017

flash sachet

At the very beginning of the C20th, when people were trying to find ways of exploding flash powder that didn't involve setting the curtains or one's eyebrows on fire, one of the very many ingenious devices was to put it into little packages - rather like tea bags.  They seem to have been made in Germany - this one is German - or in France.  The idea was that you stuck the long paper strip somewhere - leaving the flashbag hanging at a suitable distance (to be worked out using the chart on the envelope that it came in - see below) from the object that you wanted to have illuminated.  Then you light one of the pieces of string with a single match, and retire to the safety of your position behind your camera ...

... little did I think, as I assembled the illustrations to Flash!, that I'd actually be able to buy one of these!  You never know what you'll find on eBay.  This came from a little town in Italy - I'm sure that it was horribly illegal to send it through the mail.  No, I'm not going to see if it still works.  Having photographed it, I've put it, very securely, into a tin.  But still!  I'm super-excited to own this little piece of flash-photographic history.

NB, on this envelope, the little zig-zags of lightning.  That's part of my argument - even if flash photography really has very little in common with flashes of lightning, people simply couldn't resist the comparison.

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