WILDERNESS TRAILS I
These photographs represent 10 days of hiking on the La Cloche Silhouette Trail in Killarney Provincial Park. The trail is approximately 80 kms + the distance to travel from the main trail to each of the campsites and back. That put our total distance hiked to just under 100kms. The majority of these photographs were taken at the lakeside campsites we stayed at each day. At the end of each day of hiking, we were rewarded with views like these right from our campsite.
You might be wondering about the look of these photographs. Before embarking on this trip I had done a bit of research on the origins and creation of this trail. Having a bit of historical knowledge gave me a nostalgic lens to see through while hiking this trail. I had envisioned the ‘trail blazers’ with all their primitive and heavy gear, forging through untamed forests. I started to imagine photographs taken back then and wondered what they might have looked like. In my mind’s eye they looked like the wet plate photographs with all their inherent flaws and blemishes that we have now come to expect and even appreciate. It was very difficult to coat sheets of glass in the field-in a portable darkroom-and keep those negatives free from scratches, uneven coating and dust. Now having explained all this, I must confess that I have taken several liberties with this idea. First of all, colour photography was not invented yet. Secondly, the trail was constructed long after the collodion wet plate photographic process had long been replaced numerous times. I wanted to try to illustrate the unspoiled landscape of the La Cloche Mountains as someone who would have witness them over a hundred years ago.
The collodion process, mostly synonymous with the “collodion wet plate process”, requires the photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed, and developed within the span of about fifteen minutes, necessitating a portable darkroom for use in the field. Collodion is normally used in its wet form, but it can also be used in dry form, at the cost of greatly increased exposure time. The increased exposure time made the dry form unsuitable for the usual portraiture work of most professional photographers of the 19th century. The use of the dry form was therefore mostly confined to landscape photography and other special applications where minutes-long exposure times were tolerable.