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George Washington Wilson (1823-93)

Loch of Park, Aberdeenshire (Wild Duck Shooting) c.1880 after an 1860 original

RCIN 2320020

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Due to their short exposure times, Wilson’s instantaneous photographs were able to capture transient details like smoke leaving a hunter’s rifle, as this example shows. Wilson used a lens with a wide aperture and a developer that increased the light sensitivity of his negatives, enabling exposures of a fraction of a second. This was a breakthrough during a time when exposures up to a minute in length were typical, which caused moving subjects to blur. Wilson experimented with the technique during a family holiday at the Loch of Park in 1859 and returned the following year to perfect it. These photographs won the admiration of reviewers, with one suggesting that the views were ‘generally recognised as a new era in stereoscopic photography’ that ‘secured to Mr Wilson a name second to none in the Kingdom’.