A Brief History of the Camera Flash, From Explosive Powder to LED Lights


Since the first days of photography, a little extra light was needed to get a proper exposure – check out these different strategies used to illuminate the subject, if only for a brief second.


The first known photograph was captured in 1826 when light reacted with a particular type of asphalt known as Bitumen of Judea. Since that first natural light photo, photographers have introduced artificial flash lighting to photos through all kinds of different ways. In this post, we’re taking a look at a brief history of the camera flash — from its humble beginnings with explosive powder and burning metal up through the latest LED lights — to see how far it has come.

Flash Powder

If you have watched any movies depicting life in the nineteenth century, you may have witnessed a photographer holding a tray that suddenly produces a bright flash and a loud bang. In some slapstick comedies, a cloud of smoke might then dissipate showing the photographer standing with a blackened face. This technique utilized what we now call flash powder.

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Nick Frost: ‘When the end comes it’s horrible’

In this extract from his new memoir, Nick Frost recalls the day his family lost everything– and the night Simon Pegg changed his life.

Nick Frost

When I was 16, my dad went through a big change. He’d left the company he’d helped to build from the ground up and decided to start his own. It was the happiest I remembered him. My mum and dad turned the shed at the bottom of our garden in Redbridge into a workshop to make high-end office furniture. Dad was an amazing draughtsman. People went crazy for his designs, but that’s all they were at that point, just designs, pictures on a pad.

Once they had enough orders in, Mum and Dad set to work making the chairs themselves. All the individual pieces were manufactured off site then delivered and put together by them in the garage. Some nights they’d be down there until two or three in the morning putting together handmade chairs. After a couple of hours’ sleep, Dad would load up the van he had rented and deliver the things himself.

They got a big order from a major company to make chairs for its new HQ. This was it. Fulfil this order and we were laughing. We didn’t, and we weren’t laughing. I still don’t know all the whys and wherefores, but we failed. The order was just too big. The bank sent notices, the creditors circled and we were finished.

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The Screen Writing Mind Tricks of STAR WARS

Star Wars, the original trilogy, was a roller coaster of excitement and emotion. It controlled the heart strings of it’s audience like a masterful Jedi mind trick :) But how exactly were they able to evoke such highs and lows in our emotions? It all comes down to the beats – the smallest building blocks of a movie. Today, Kyle’s Frame by Frame takes a close up look at Return of the Jedi to gain a better understanding of how Luke’s and Darth Vader’s beat changes toy with our emotions.


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