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Thread: information on powder flash?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    information on powder flash?

    hello all, I was just wanting some more information on where to find the old style powder flashes.
    frankly, I was hoping someone knows of a place that may have one, specific models to look for, as well as any tips on using these.

    I do know the safety tips, and I do have a recipe already, thanks to The ILFORD Manual of Photography (apprx 1920's version)
    I use a bulb flash, but it takes 2a bulbs. and frankly, apart from the occasional cheap ebay auction, those bulbs are expensive. flashbulbs wats $8 per bulb. meggaflash, from what I can guesstimate by matching stats for the bulbs, has a similar bulb, made new. price: not listed. if you have to ask.
    but, I ran the numbers for a powder flash, and with a powder flash using about 6.5 grammes of powder mix per flash, and with a reasonably priced powder supplier, it may be cheaper. actually, for $46 I can get 80 powder flashes. at flashbulbs price, I can get 80 bulb flashes for $640. I heard meggaflash charges a little more per bulb.
    for the same price, I can get a little over 13x as many flashes from powder (for the $640) than from bulbs.

    please, does anyone have anything that can help me here? anything is really appreciated.

    oh, and here is the recipe excerpt from the ILFORD book. http://www.photomemorabilia.co.uk/Il...otography.html
    the whole book is probably readable on google. it should be very interesting.

    thanks again!

  2. #2
    Foamer
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    Re: information on powder flash?

    I doubt you're going to find it premade because it would be hazardous to ship. Might be able to buy the components from a chemical company or a scientific supply company such as Carolina Biological Supply etc.


    Kent in SD
    Gud blessi Island!

  3. #3
    8x10 Phil's Avatar
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    Re: information on powder flash?

    Try a theater supply store.

  4. #4
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: information on powder flash?

    Check this link for way more than you want to know.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_powder
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com


    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  5. #5
    hacker extraordinaire
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    Re: information on powder flash?

    This is a great topic. I started a thread about this over at APUG a few months ago, but was never satisfied. I have a feeling that flash powder is kind of lost technology. I know that flash powder must work really well because of what I know about it historically...we know that they managed to get enough exposure with those big banquet cameras, and there's that shot by Weegee, shot on 4x5, where the whole friggen street is lit up from flash powder. It must be really bright. Flashbulbs are sadly impractical nowadays, and the only other way to get serious on-location illumination is to drag around a 12V battery, massive power inverter and my Novatron. I have a feeling that flash powder can fill this need but the details of its use are lost to time.
    Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
    --A=B by Petkovšek et. al.

  6. #6

    Re: information on powder flash?

    Here is a long shot: There was a high school kid (probably in college now) on one of the collodion forums who was using flash powder. He might be worth looking up. His first name was Race, I can't recall the last name.

  7. #7

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    Re: information on powder flash?

    My friend, Ken Anderson and I used to make flash powder in the 7th and 8th grade back in Springfield, IL. We'd wrap some in notebook paper, light it afire and throw it under or by police cars, then run. STUPID and dangerous, but what did we expect from teens.

    I've used flash powder for camera exposure a couple of times when huge amounts of light were needed. I no longer know the guide numbers but I made the stuff from equal parts of powdered magnesium and potassium nitrate. mix it very carefully, it can blow up in you face from friction or static, this is no joke, blindness or death can result. The Smith-Victor company that still makes tungsten photo light systems was originally the "Victor Flash Powder, Co" in the Chicago are before they threw the company out of IL due to numerous explosions. They moved to Indiana and I think now in CA.

    Lynn

  8. #8

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    Re: information on powder flash?

    Don't even think about it.
    Even when people were experienced back then, people still got serious burns etc.
    The FBI will be on your trail - even if you attempt to buy small quantities (letter bombs).
    Straight magnesium (ribbon) is easier to handle.
    This is not a sensible activity for "adult" men even though it attracts.

  9. #9
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: information on powder flash?

    Once again: Read the wikapedia article.

    You will find that:

    1. This infomation is not "lost" . . .its chemistry.

    2. Its DANGEROUS.


    I have been repetedly surprised in the last few years at how our society has changed regarding the public availability of photo related chemistry and lab supplies. At one time I explored making Daguerreotypes. I had to fill out a form for (did it) the DEA to buy a few grams of Iodine crystals. Seems the stuff is used in makingc. . .somethig. I'm OK with all that, I was just a little surprised.

    Another surprise came when I thought about making distilled water for the Daguerreotype process ("control over the "artistic process"). It seems that almost any lab equipment related to distilation is no longer available to the public—even to some types of hot plates and bouiling flasks and a distilation colume is out of the question. After seeing an episode or two of the HBO show, "Breaking Bad" I understand why .I am disapointed byt I'm OK with all that too.

    Back to the central topic:

    I don't see flash powder as a realistic altenative to strobes today.
    Drew Bedo
    www.quietlightphoto.com


    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  10. #10

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    Re: information on powder flash?

    Now I don't know if this is practical or not, but around the 4th of July in my town it is legal to buy and use safe and sane fireworks. A real bright one is called "Lightning Flash" and gives about five seconds of strobe light. Pack of six is under five dollars.

    Possessing and using these kinds of flash, unmodified and as directed, shouldn't attract any undue attention.

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