top of page
  • Jerry King Musser

Sneaky Squeeze

There's a fairly well-known image of Lloyd Mifflin which shows a bit of technology of his day. Not everyone notices it.

Long before one could set a timer on an iPhone to be able to jump into the picture, the old cameras used a bulb shutter release (later, replaced by a cable release). This aided in two things: it kept the camera steady while on a tripod (especially for long exposures), and it allowed the camera operator to be part of the image—so long as you owned a bulb release long enough to reach from camera to operator.

If you look at Lloyd's right hand (on your left), he seems to be resting his hand by grabbing onto his vest. Exposures could be a few seconds long (or more). Holding one's hand steady might be a challenge. But, there's also something else. Coming out of his hand is some sort of long thin rubber tube. Inside his hand would have been a bulb. If one squeezes the bulb, air would push down the tube and trigger the shutter release on the camera (see a shorter tube and bulb in the illustration). This little gadget allowed for turn-of-the-century 'selfies.' [The first selfie was actually much earlier, 1839, but that's for another blog].

The glass plate negative for this image is in the possession of the Columbia Historic Preservation Society

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All



bottom of page