Camera: A Lens to the Past

camera 1Cameras have become a tool of exploration and discovery for photographers and pedestrian observers alike, capturing the powerful images of human emotions and experiences.  Passion, sadness, joy, and curiosity can all be conveyed in a single image that preserves history in an identifiable and iconographic manner.  In doing so, they document the present for the benefit of generations to come.

In Fritz Engineering Laboratory, particularly during the mid-twentieth century, civil engineers were concerned about recording their current research as it would relate to its impact for the future.  Through a chronicling of a collection of images, a story of the events that unfolded over fifty years ago emerges.  From industrial testing of the suspension cable used for the Golden Gate Bridge to  pioneering  prestressed concrete beams for use in the rapid construction of the U.S. Interstate Highway System, Fritz Engineering Laboratory was in the midst of it all, renowned worldwide for their innovation.  

Thus, it is no surprise that Lehigh University’s very own Ivan J. Taylor, an instruments camera 2associate in Fritz laboratory, was the inventor of a high speed camera valuable to the U.S. military.  Of significant note is this camera’s capability of capturing streak photography as a result of its continuously moving film device.  Hence, according to Taylor himself, “streak-photography provides a means of photographing a rapidly moving beam of light that ordinarily would not be detected by the
human eye.”  Specimens previously incapable of being photographed and studied are now able to do camera 3
just that.  It is for this very reason that this camera was important in underwater nuclear research for the Navy and other branches of the armed services.

And there lies the power of photography; to literally bring an image to light.

For more information regarding the patent for the J. Taylor High Speed Camera, refer to


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