Posted 6 years ago
This is what I really like about Show & Tell; the opportunity for collectors to enhance each other's collections and knowledge. Presented here is a follow-on for walksoftly’s “Diner Photo” image that has a back stamp noting the studio as “The Only Exclusive Flashlight Photographers In Canada.” It sheds some light (pun intended) on the subject of early flash photography and how the Diner Photo might have been shot.
Flash photography was still new and novel in the early 20th century and the term ‘flashlight’ was often used in the same way we would describe flash photography.
The 1914 handbook shown here advertises flashlight products. I purchased it years back with the original letter and stamped envelope sent to a prospective customer. What’s important here is that the handbook describes guidelines on how many ‘flashbags’ would be needed based on the size of a room (such as a diner).
“One flashbag is needed for each 25 feet and also the width of space to be covered. For instance, a room 25 x 100 ft. needs four bags; one 25 x 50 ft., two; 75 ft. x 100 ft. nine; etc. Groups require two flashbags for proper lighting; Portraits need one with reflector.”
Regardless of what the device is called, it still relied on flash powder and Prosch sold what they called Smokeless Flashbags; “The bags are made of fine white, fire-proofed cloth stretched over patented collapsible frames fitted with detachable pans for holding flash powder.”
There are also instructions on how to place the bags: “Principal or strongest light is placed at side of subject. For group, place one flashbag with half-ounce cartridge at extreme side and other with a small charge behind camera. For banquet place flashbags across end and down side of room with camera in corner between. Use half-ounce cartridge in each flashbag."
Whew ... aren’t you glad that nearly all digital cameras have built-in electronic flash and the comfort of knowing something wasn’t going to explode each time you took a picture?