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© McCord Museum
Sunset on the beach at Metis, QC, 1876
Alexander Henderson
about 1877, 19th century
Silver salts on paper mounted on card - Albumen process
27 x 35 cm
© McCord Museum

Keys to History:

Although Alexander Henderson titled this photograph Evening, he probably took it around noonhour.

Henderson worked with glass plates coated with wet collodion, a photographic process that produced sharp negatives and a rich array of grays. However, there were some drawbacks to the process, namely, the somewhat long exposure time (up to 20 seconds) and the need for maximum lighting in order to produce clear images. In addition, the photographer had only 15 to 30 minutes to develop the glass-plate negative before the collodion coating dried.

Because of these technological limitations, it was almost impossible to photograph sunsets. To overcome them, Henderson began by taking an underexposed image of the river at around noon. The result was remarkably convincing: this really looks like a sunset over the St. Lawrence River.





© Musée McCord Museum