Walcott photography

SUMMARY: Jean-Bernard Caron, Curator of invertebrate Palaeontology at the Royal Ontario Museum, discusses Walcott's use of the Kodak Cirkut Camera to take panoramic views of the landscapes in the Rockies. (2:35)

Caron shows what the Kodak Cirkut Camera looked like
DESCRIPTION: Caron shows what the Kodak Cirkut Camera looked like

"Walcott used photography to study the rocks and the rock formations in the Canadian Rockies while he was exploring. And in particular he used this type of camera, called a Kodak Cirkut camera, which is a panoramic camera, which is basically a camera which is set on a tripod, which eventually is on a rotating plate, so you can actually take panoramas up to 360 degrees."

Panorama taken by Walcott that shows the Burgess Shale
DESCRIPTION: Panorama taken by Walcott that shows the Burgess Shale

"And this is one of the most famous panoramas taken by Walcott himself, showing the Burgess Shale, which is located around here. Walcott's camp will have been around here, so every day he will have walked and used his horses to go to the quarry, which would have been located around here. This is an image that was taken probably in 1910, and eventually was published by National Geographic in 1911. And to this day it remains the largest picture ever published by any magazine anywhere in the world. It's more than 2 metres in width. The actual panorama was offered as a supplement to all the subscribers of National Geographic and we have a copy here that is relatively rare. And this is an original reprint of this particular picture."

Copy of National Geographic magazine with large foldout panoramas taken by Walcott
DESCRIPTION: Copy of National Geographic magazine with large foldout panoramas taken by Walcott

"But most of these images were used to do some serious geological work. And many of these images were actually published in this monograph, describing the rocks of the Canadian Rockies. In fact, if you open this volume, in many places you are going to have large panoramas of many landscapes. So once again he used these images to do his work, there's usually a description at the bottom of these images about what he sees on these images, and it's a way to quickly take information in the field knowing that in the Canadian Rockies, the weather can change very quickly, and it's very hard to stay in one place and probably draw all these mountains without being rained on. So usually photography still today is the best way to study the rocks."

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