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William Jennings, Pioneer Work in Photography of Lightning, 1930

Reaching New Heights

While Jennings did not invent the camera, he did make some significant modifications to its structure which enabled him to photograph lightning. Jennings' addition of a yellow color filter to his camera, along with the development of the hot air balloon, made it possible for the adventurous photographer to snap sharp images of lightning. The invention of the air balloon allowed Jennings and his camera to reach the optimal height for photographing lightning, and his use of a yellow color filter eliminated the blue haze that made ordinary photographs taken on an orthochromatic plate indistinct. Jennings' plate gave "good definition to the foliage in the Zoological Garden in the right foreground to the Delaware River ten miles away. The tower of City Hall in the middle distance is shown in an unfinished condition."

You can view an essay on Jennings' photography, glossed over with notes by editor F. Palmer, Jr, by clicking on the documents at right.