Imaginary Law Firms, Part 1: Brannock, Foley, and Freeth

This is Charles Brannock, shown next to his device (not to scale).

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This is Jack Foley. On the right is a gentleman skilled in his art.

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T.J. Freeth (1819-1904), our firm’s founder, was unavailable when the photographer came around, but this is his nephroid. To the right you see an ordinary nephroid lurking in a coffee cup.

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You know the ordinary nephroid as the reflected catacaustic of a circle, the involute of Caley’s sextic, and a generally good-natured two-cusped epicycloid. But Freeth’s nephroid is something altogether different: a strophoid of a circle with a double curlicue in the kidney crotch. (Common decency and good taste prevents us from displaying Freeth’s supertrisectrix strophoid.)

For their vision and lasting impact on our society, we salute Messrs. Brannock, Foley, and Freeth.

Behind the CLICK: the anatomy of a camera shutter

Most of us have put away, given away, or thrown away our old film-based cameras. No more 35 mm film canisters… now we have sleek solid state digital cameras. Except that the shutter, as ever, is still a tiny clockwork marvel of gears and levers.

You press the button on top of your camera and it goes CLICK. But what happens during that click is surprisingly complex. It’s especially complex for the shutter on a Single Lens Reflex (SLR) digital camera. For instance, consider this puzzle. How does a shutter mechanism that can only operate at 1/300 of a second nevertheless provide an effective shutter speed of 1/3000 of a second?

Derek Miller of penmachine.com put together a great piece explaining how this is possible along with many other fascinating details. Here’s the post: Camera Works: shutters, flashes, and sync speed. Don’t miss one of the resources that he points to, Jeffrey Friedl’s presentation of some high speed photos taken of a lens-less SLR in action. You won’t believe all the craziness that happens in 87.8 milliseconds every time you take a picture.