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Let It Snow! Pikes Peak, circa 1899

November 5, 2010

Snow on Pikes Peak From Colorado Springs
USGS ~ Circa 1899
Photographer Unknown

Can I confess to shameless adoration of nineteenth-century photographers? My favorite outdoor photographs are the stained black and white anonymous shots I find in garage sales or at flea markets. When I think about the incredible effort it took to capture a single image, I am awestruck.

The process of capturing scenic photographs was daunting and the impact sensational. To take a photograph in the late 1800’s required an amazing level of stamina and commitment. Equipment was expensive and bulky and transportation was dangerous and grueling. The wet-plate collodian process required considerable dexterity, split-second timing, a tent and access to fresh water. The fact that this was achievable at all in field conditions was astonishing. The necessary equipment for a day’s shoot weighed over 100 pounds. Early photographers died young from exposure to hazardous chemicals and weather.

I’ve had a copy of this image hanging on my wall for years. One of the reasons I moved back to Colorado was to be able to try to duplicate this shot ~ only I’m lucky enough to be doing it with a digital camera and without a mule train.

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