John Falconer, British Library
A Biographical Dictionary of 19th Century Photographers in South and South-East Asia
Son of John Senior, Quarter-Master Sergeant, 3rd Battalion Bengal Artillery, and his wife Esmeralda; baptised, St James’s Church, Kurnaul, 20.9.1840; educated at Doveton College, Calcutta, 1852-57; appointed to 73rd Bengal Infantry, from India, 1859; served with 2nd Gurkhas and took photographs during the Ambeyla Expedition of 1863; [service record unchecked]; left India 1898. Was a life member of the Bengal Photographic Society and a regular contributor to their exhibitions from the early 1860s.
At the 1864 exhibition of the Bengal Photographic Society, his entries had a mixed reception:
‘Lieutenant Senior’s views deserve commendation, but he has not done himself justice. All his prints are badly mounted and want margin, he has stinted his card-board, and in many cases has not cut his pictures to advantage. No. 647, Hermit’s Cell, is an excellent bit, well chosen and nicely taken; the picure is not, however, improved by the squad of squatting sitters. No. 653, Petrefying Springs, is a good photograph, but it is a pity to see such pictures so badly mounted. Lieut Senior prints well. We like his view of The Taj Mahal, No. 646. It gives an idea of the materials of the building, and the whiteness of the marble is well brought out by the sky and dark dome in the foreground. We should like to cut away an inch and a half of the foreground, which is out of focus; and if an inch had been taken off the left side, and the same space added to the right hand side, the Taj would have occupied, as it ought to have done, the middle of this picture. We like No. 650, Bridge on the Saug, but would have cut off the lowet inch - why will photographers retain, in their pictures, parts which are quite out of focus and consequently in bad drawing? No. 651, The Cawnpore Well, may not be a good photograph, but we like it as a suggestive picture; we would cut off at least two inches of water, leaving a quarter of an inch below the reflection of the solitary palm. The sombre tone, the bright light on the horizon, and the dull murkiness of the ground and silent water, have a fine effect. The snug farm-house-like building with its high pitched roofing is out of place and character, but this is not the fault of the photographer. Lieutenant Senior’s photographs are full of promise, and we look to see him well represented at the next exhibition.’
At the 1869 exhibition of the Bengal Photographic Society,
‘Lt. H. Senior exhibits an excellent series of 29 views taken chiefly in the neighbourhood of Mussooree and Landour for which he gains the Society’s Silver Medal for the 6 best photographs exhibited by an amateur member of the Society. No. 265 is an unusually successful view of the snowy range of Jamnotri, and the gradations of light and shade on the snow are particularly well brought out. Nos. 2691/2, 270, 271, 272, are capital photographs of trees, and good photographs. No. 273 ‘View in Landour’ is a good photograph, and well chosen; the relief of the centre tree is very striking. No. 277 is a very successful view of the pretty Batta Falls at Mussoorie. Nos. 278, ‘View of the Tomb of Runjeet Sing at Lahore,’ and No. 279, ‘Lahore Fort,’ are very good. The combination-background in 278 has been well managed, but does not give sufficient relief to the tomb. The effect of these photographs would have been greatly enhanced had they been of a better tone.’
At the 1871 exhibition of the Bengal Photographic Society,
‘Lieutenant Senior sends 12 fine pictures, which show a great improvement on those sent last year, and gain the Society’s silver medal. We note particularly, ‘Panorama of Kylas,’ which shows great delicacy of detail in the dark foreground and distant snowy peaks. There is considerable contrast, but no blackness or hardness. ‘Jocheemut’ is a very delicate picture with fine effect. The view of ‘Kedernath Valley and Snowy Peak’, is a charming photograph, well rendered and delicate. ‘Jhoola and Sanga, over the river Alaknanda,’ is a very fine photograph, and has been selected for distribution. ‘The Roal, or High Priest of Badrinath’ is an excellent photograph. When it is recollected that these photographs have all been taken in a most inaccessible part of the country, and at an elevation of about 11,000 feet, considerable praise is due to Lieut. Senior for having produced such very perfect photographs under the most difficult circumstances.’
Won a gold medal for the best series of landscapes by an amateur at the Bengal Photographic Society Exhibition of 1872: a small series of six views, including Sansadhara, or the petrifying forest, Dehra Dun, village gossips, Cathedral at Sirdhana.
Views from wet collodion negatives of Baramula, Lucknow, Attock, Amritsar, with Amateur Photographic Association stamp, sold at Christies sale 27 Sep 1201, lot 27.
[Baptism: IOR/N/1/56/f. 125; Cadet papers: IOR/L/MIL/9/246/ff.666-680]
- Λ Journal of the Bengal Photographic Society, vol. II, no. 7, March 1864, pp. 79-80.
- Λ Journal of the Bengal Photographic Society, new series, vol.I, no.4, December 1869, p.5.
- Λ Journal of the Bengal Photographic Society, vol.II, no.6, April 1871, pp.10-11.
- Λ British Journal of Photography, 22 March 1872, pp. 135-38.