Magnesium camera flash, 19th century

Magnesium camera flash, 19th century

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Magnesium camera flash, 19th-century artwork. Magnesium is a highly reactive metal, burning in air with a bright flame. In both wire and powder form, it will produce a bright light that was among the earliest forms of flash used by photographers in the 1860s. These early devices, like the one shown here, used an alcohol fuel to aid ignition of the magnesium. The electric flash lamp was not invented until 1899, with flash bulbs being developed in the 1920s. The camera being used here is at lower right. Artwork from the 17th volume (first period of 1896) of the French popular science weekly 'La Science Illustree'.

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