A Frozen Moment of Motion

Stephen R. Wilk

The story of how William Henry Fox Talbot’s markedly unremarkable photograph may have been the first demonstration of strobe photography.

bullet through apple in stop motionRe-creation of Harold Edgerton’s 1964 “stopped-time” image of a bullet through an apple. [estt / Getty Images]

British scientist and inventor William Henry Fox Talbot is one of the world’s underappreciated polymaths. He was a pioneer in spectroscopy, deciphered cuneiform, discovered the Talbot effect and invented the calotype method of photography, which supplanted the daguerreotype process. In addition to these many and varied accomplishments, Talbot also took what is arguably the world’s first strobe photograph.

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