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William Henry Jackson
Landscape Photography with Large Plates
W.H. Jackson, "Landscape Photography with Large Plates" The International Annual of Anthony's Bulletin, p.315-316
In working with large cameras out of doors, more especially in rough or mountainous countries, a few words from one who has had some experience in that line may not be amiss.
In the first place the difficulties in the way of getting about easily with an 18x22 or 20x24 camera disappear in a great measure when a suitable camera has been selected, neither so heavy as to be unwieldy, nor so light as to be fragile and unsteady (Anthony's "Novel" has been my preference). Of greater importance, however, are the arrangements for the security of camera and plate holders in transportation, for we shall have to contend with that evil genius of railway travel, the baggage smasher, the jolting and dust of stage travel, and the uncertainties of "packing." For this purpose nothing is better than a well made trunk, the body of white wood, covered with heavy canvas, and then ribbed with oak and bound with iron. A good trunk maker will add rubber corners, catches and locks, this last item being a necessity in the plate holder case or trunk.
Have two such trunks made, as nearly alike in size as camera and plate holders will admit of. It will generally be found that six single holders tilled with plates in one case will about equal the other carrying the camera, so that when it comes to slinging them up on a pack animal they will "balance" well. The camera case contains in addition to the instrument itself, focusing cloth and the tripod top. Let me say hero that a large substantial rest for the camera when in use is a necessity. Not a delusion and a snare in the shape of a triangle less than a foot in diameter, but a stout board of the size of your plate holders and fitting in the camera next the ground glass in the place generally reserved for an extra holder. With a set of stout unjointed tripod sticks to support this we have a table to work on firmer than any gallery stand ever made, and on which the camera am be pulled out to its greatest length and swung around to any point of the compass, at the same time easily adjusting its greatest weight to where it will do the most good. Screws are not necessary to fasten it in place.
In the plate case the six single holders slide in grooves in pairs, the top shutting down so as to hind them firmly in place. Provided with a pair of such cases the traveling photographer may journey from one end of the continent to the other, and be able lo defy the aforesaid baggage smasher, the severest jolting- and dust of the Concord coach, the more trying rattle of the lumber wagon and, finally, the idiosyncrasies of the festive pack mule in the firm faith that he will arrive at the scene of his labors with outfit unimpaired and then home again with plates intact.
In carrying a reserve supply of plates, nothing is better than the original packing box, with two packages or one dozen plates in each box. An empty pasteboard plate box should be interposed on each side between the plates and the box. This gives an almost certain immunity from breakage. The packing box should be well roped to facilitate handling; attach baggage checks to and for the protection of the box itself. The arrangement by sixes of plate holders is convenient in changing, as all large plates are packed in half dozens, and it will generally be found advisable to change after every sixth exposure, thus keeping the plates of each package intact. Lenses are best carried in leathern cases by themselves, the careful photographer generally preferring to keep this part of his outfit under his own eyes.