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flash powder

 
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BetterSense



Joined: 17 Nov 2009
Posts: 18
Location: Dallas

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:41 am    Post subject: flash powder Reply with quote

What is flash powder?

For how long was it used (when did flashbulbs come into use)?

Can you still buy it? How do you use it?

I remember seeing a Weegie photo with people on a fire escape, at night of course. He said that he backed up across the street and "used flash powder". In the picture, it looks like the whole street is lit up. Was flash powder really bright? Is there still applications for flash powder today?
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could make it as bright as you wanted by using more powder, up to a point. There were also different grades of powder. Nasty stuff, flash powder. It was used even after bulbs came out, for several years and for special applications. It was made of magnesium and aluminum powders. Many people were injured by the stuff and it was famous for making so much smoke the sitters would run outside gasping for air. They made smoke hoods to try to capture as much smoke as possible, to little avail. If you needed lots of light, however, several pans of that stuff going off at once would light up the whole block,if it didn't burn it down. Good riddance to that stuff.
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alecj



Joined: 09 May 2001
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Location: Alabama

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, Flash Powder. It's the subject of many hilarious stories. None more so than the description by Ansel Adams of his first use of it to take some pictures of small children in a school. After the first flash, they had to clear the school because of the smoke (not to mention the fear in the eyes of the students). Seems he chose the method "if one oz will do it, two oz will do better". I don't think he ever said what happened to the picture itself.

If you want to partially recreate the excitement, find and use some large flash bulbs. Under the right circumstances they can explode too. The lack of fire is easily replaced with the thrill of flying glass ejected toward the subjects. That should be enough to get your (and their) blood flowing! <g>
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C. Henry



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
Posts: 356
Location: North East Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Flash Powder was used in the "open flash" mode as it was (almost) impossible to synchronize it to the shutter opening.
For those who are too young to remember the "open flash" mode it went like this:
1. open shutter on "time" or "Bulb" setting.
2. fire the flash.
3. close the shutter.

C. Henry
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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
Posts: 2682
Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

there were probably as many 'formulas' for flash powder as there was for film developers. Trying to find 'real' flash powder for photographic purposes might be hard, but any good theatrical supply will have something they call flash powder.

It might not be the same exact stuff the old timers used, it'll be close enough.
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Henry



Joined: 09 May 2001
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Location: Allentown, Pennsylvania

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember a demonstration in my college (or was it high school?) "bonehead" intro. to chemistry course, where the prof. flashed off some lycopodium powder. Almost any powder will flash (explode); it happens in grain elevators, coal mines, etc. Years later I found out what "lycopodium" is, but I forgot already.
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Les



Joined: 09 May 2001
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Location: Detroit, MI

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAdElO1FCSM

http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=lycopodium+powder&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Several early flash equipment was set up in a similar way: The Crown flash unit was essentially a tray at the top fill with paper soaked in alcohol, an open tube was in the center hand ran down below the tray. This tube was filled with Magnesium powder. In use, you blew on the tube which aerosoled the mag powder and threw it up into the flame. I don't have a definitive date for its discontinuance, but the Crown Flash lamp was sold into the mid to late 1930s, even though flash bulbs were on the market in the early 1930s.
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C. Henry



Joined: 13 Dec 2005
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Location: North East Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That lycopodium powder is much safer to use than the old photographic "flash Powder" which would flash (burn rapidly) in mass. Some of the "flash pans" ignited the powder in the pan with a flint wheel mechanism without lifting the powder into the air.
Lycopodium might be usable as a photo flash powder but I doubt that consistent results would be easily obtained.

C. Henry
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pv17vv



Joined: 22 Dec 2001
Posts: 255
Location: The Ardennes, Belgium

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FYI :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_powder

Quote:
Producing more than 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) for one device is considered a federal offense in the United States and is punishable by up to 6 years in prison.


Have fun...



Georges
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glennfromwy



Joined: 29 Nov 2001
Posts: 903
Location: S.W. Wyoming

PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

pv17vv wrote:
FYI :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_powder

Quote:
Producing more than 0.05 grams (50 milligrams) for one device is considered a federal offense in the United States and is punishable by up to 6 years in prison.


Have fun...

:wink:

Georges


Ha! That should have been enforced decades ago. Disasters could have been avoided. There were also little electric igniters for that stuff in the "later" years. Kind of like tiny blasting caps without the kaboom. I did know of a souce for materials to make the stuff but I've forgotten who it is. Just get yourself a flash pan and some of those strobe thingies from the fireworks stand. They're BRIGHT! See ya in the hospital.
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Discoman



Joined: 28 Oct 2009
Posts: 16

PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

as another alternative, there were:
flash "sheets" that was powder stabilized onto a small sheet
magnesium ribbon
and my favorite, a flash gun that was literally a gun-it used specialized shotgun shell type things with the flash powder-i believe it used a firing pin and all

cant find any of those, i was going to try wet-plate and dry plate with the powder flashes
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