Harold ‘Doc’ Edgerton was a professor of electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is largely credited with transforming the stroboscope from an obscure laboratory instrument into a common device seen in nearly every camera. He grew up in Aurora, Nebraska and attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Edgerton was a pioneer in strobe photography, subsequently using the technique to capture images of balloons during their bursting, or a bullet during its impact with an apple, for example. He was awarded a bronze medal by the Royal Photographic Society in 1934, and the National Medal of Science in 1973.
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In 1937 he began a lifelong association with photographer Gjon Mili, who used stroboscopic equipment, particularly a “multiflash” strobe light, to produce strikingly beautiful photographs, many of which appeared in Life Magazine. Harold 'Doc' Edgerton worked with the undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, by first providing him with underwater stroboscopes, and then by using sonar to discover the Britannic.
While working with Cousteau, he acquired the nickname he is still known by in photographic circles, “Papa Flash”. In addition to having the scientific and engineering acumen to perfect strobe lighting commercially, Harold 'Doc' Edgerton is equally recognized for his visual aesthetic: many of the striking images he created in illuminating phenomena that occurred too fast for the naked eye adorn art museums worldwide. Edgerton’s work was featured in an October 1987 National Geographic Magazine article entitled Doc Edgerton: the man who made time stand still.
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