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Monday, 07 June 2010


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That Stonehenge image is amazing on it's own. Even more incredible considering the manual timing of it all.

This shot looked very familiar, and is in the book Stonehenge Decoded, (Gerald S. Hawkins with John B. White, 1965) cropped almost square.

In the same book are three more shots by Harold Edgerton. One is a shot of the stones in 1942, illuminated by an aircraft flare. Some cows are in silhouette. Another is a recon shot from the air, and the other one isn't in my copy! I've had the 1966 book for years and never noticed that some of the plates were missing! Rats!

The book is still well worth reading. Astronomer Gerald S. Hawkins found stone alignments that matched astronomical alignments using an IBM 704, an early 'supercomputer'. He also discovered a way of predicting eclipses using the 56 "Aubrey" holes that were dug just within the inner bank.

First time I've seen that amazing picture and my first reaction was, "Damn! Some Johnny-come-lately-hot-shot photographer has gone and created a whole new genre of Strobist-inspired landscape photography. Wish I'd thought of it first. 1944? Edgerton? Crap! ". Still. Worth investigating a little further.

Mike, You've got to get us information on where to get a print of this.

Michael Hoppen Gallery Ltd in London handles Edgerton. There must be others but I don't see them in a brief search. I would contact Hoppen:

gallery - at - michaelhoppengallery -do t - com

...And ask if the print is available or what you'd have to do to find out. Even if they can't help you they might give you your next move.

Do let us know what you find out, will you?


That's just frickin' cool.

Shot, of course, when it was a lot easier to access the circle than it is now. Great image of an interesting place. Interesting to me for 2 reasons, both non-photographic.

First, obviously, is the whole 'neolithic artifact' thing, as well as the solar/lunar/astronomical arrangement of the stones. We think we're so clever...

Second is the way the hype doesn't live up to the reality of the place - I found it somewhat underwhelming. I was there in '07 - the hordes of tourists, the continual white noise of passing traffic and the whole 'modern interpretation of an ancient place, with manicured lawn' may have robbed the feeling from the place; maybe I was there at the wrong time - I'm sure that a moody dawn or dusk would be much more appropriate than 2.30 on a sunny English summer afternoon. Maybe it's just the sheer age of it, so old that it's incomprehensible to me; I know I could feel the age and the history of the much younger derelict castles I visited in Scotland more readily, although the weather helped there, all sullen and drizzly.

None of the above has anything whatsoever to do with the posted image or photography, so I'll make it on-topic by saying that I DID get some nice snaps of the place, and I've made a promise to myself to make an real effort to head halfway around the world again to see it in a different light. This time, I'll be prepared photographically, and I'll phone ahead to get in there at one of the special dawn viewing sessions.

Robg, I know what you mean. Stonehenge has about as much atmosphere as the moon. Paying to get in doesn't let you go any nearer to the stones than 25 feet in one place. From most directions you cannot get any closer than 100 feet, no closer than you can by just standing outside the fence. You get a rotten deal for your ticket money.

At other ancient monuments in the UK this does not happen. you can get close to, or inside them.

English Heritage have plans to move the 'visitor centre' (parking, ticket office and shop) from just on the other side of the main road that goes right by the circle to two miles away and shutting that road. You will no longer be able to just stop and look at the stones without either walking or cycling across country, or using the new visitor centre and paying to get in.

There is no mention of allowing visitors to walk any closer in the proposals than they can now. A lot of money will be spent and I doubt the experience will be any better.

Since Edgerton is from Aurora, Nebraska, (I live in Lincoln) I thought I'd drop my two-cents anecdote.

In the 1960s, Harold donated 4 strobes to be placed on the State capitol building. After a few months of operation, the strobes were taken down because residents were complaining about the flashes.

Another off-topic reply, sorry.

I think there is a lot of (recent) history around Stonehenge which has contributed to the current unpleasant experience of visiting it. There were a number of free music festivals held there in the 70s and early 80s, a period of some social conflict in the UK. These resulted in some reasonably unpleasant scenes (the "battle of the beanfield", in I think 1984?) and resulting restrictions on access to the stones.

How unpleasant they would have managed to make the experience of visiting it without this history I don't know - certainly the history is a convenient excuse, if nothing else.

[I'd be very interested in knowing where prints of the photo can be had, as well.]

Doc Edgerton took many amazing photos during his career. He was my thesis adviser at MIT in 1966, and the most impressive/scary image in his lab/office was one of a nuclear explosion microseconds or less after initiation, and a 10 nanosecond exposure time - much more evil-looking than the now traditional 'mushroom cloud' associated with nuclear explosions.

On a TV documentary about Harold Edgerton they showed him in his classroom with a bunch of students. He was demonstrating on of his big strobes and it set a newspaper on fire at about 6 feet! Cool!

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