William Henry Jackson
PHOTOGRAPHING IN HIGH PLACES
This image was made when Jackson was working in the Grand Teton mountain area with the Hayden Survey. It is dated July, 1872. The important thing about this picture is the view it gives of the circumstances under which these men worked to obtain the photographs. You can see the photographer at work near his dark tent, with boxes and other equipment lying about. Remember that all this had to be hauled up to the ledge, unpacked, and set up, and then, after the picture was taken, repacked and carried down again. And this picture does not even show the large wet plate camera and its tripod which was used to make the photograph! Add to that the gear that had to be transported. Do you begin to understand the accomplishment of these frontier photographers?
The transportation problems were only part of what the frontier photographer faced. Chemicals had to be protected from excessive heat, cold, wet, dust, etc. to retain their effectiveness. Glass plates had to be protected from breakage both before and after they became negatives. The amazing thing is the quality of the photographs taken under those circumstances. Most of the images are clear, composition is good, and there is a fine attention to detail.