In the early fifties when the U.S government was testing nuclear weapon, it also wanted to capture the explosion on camera. With technologies available it was a huge challenge. The result, brought to public attention by blog Damn Interesting, was the ‘Rapatronic’ camera – an ultra-high-speed camera that sat seven miles from the blast site and captured images at high speed. This image here, for instance, was taken one ten-millionth of a second after detonation.
No technology at the time was available to wind the cameras on fast enough to take a second photo, so the camera specialist who designed the Rapatronic camera used an array of polarised lenses combined with an electrical element to ‘shut’ the camera shutter in one ten-millionth of a second.