The strobe effect
In the 1930s, Marey’s scientific legacy was continued by Harold Edgerton, an electrical engineer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Edgerton took photos using a high-speed electronic flash to produce a strobe effect.
With flashes up to a million times a second, Edgerton took images of fencers, pole vaulters and divers in the style of Marey but with far greater accuracy and clarity.
Science, not art
Edgerton was keen to distance himself from other photographers such as Gjon Mili who used similar techniques but worked with more artistic subjects such as dancers and musicians.
He insisted: “Don’t make me out to be an artist. I am an engineer. I am after the facts. Only the facts.”
In this 1952 photograph, violinist Jascha Heifetz plays in Mili’s darkened studio as light attached to his bow traces its movement.