Glenfield Ramblers' Nature Photography

After a change to the working hours for employees at Kilmarnock industrial machinery company Glenfield & Kennedy, a group of workers formed to plan trips and walks  to areas of beautiful scenery and fascinating history across the country. After working as a loosely affiliated group for 12 years, the Kilmarnock Glenfield Ramblers Society was formally founded in Spring 1884.  These images were captured by a man called James Smith in the mid-1920s, and feature fungi as well as tree and flower blossoms. Many have been hand coloured to make them more visually appealing and to reflect the fungi and plant's natural colouring - a useful addition to study materials for budding botanists and mycologists.

Around the same time, the technology for capturing images was becoming more accessible - both financially and practically. Before the invention of photographic technology, glass lantern slides were a popular way of keeping paintings, images, and drawings in a way that meant they could be lit up by a lantern or candle and projected against a wall. When photographs came into popular use in the mid-1800s, the positive prints of a photograph could be placed on a glass slide. 


A new dry plate method was introduced in the 1880s, which meant that dry plates could be prepared in advance and did not require lots of chemicals, overly cumbersome equipment, and immediate development in a dark room. This meant that it was easier for people on their travels to document their memories. Educational sets of slides for public lectures became popular, with travel and the natural world two of the most popular themes. For the Ramblers, this also meant that highlights of their trips could be documented and later used in presentations - a precursor to the modern PowerPoint slide!


Further reading:

Frutos, Francisco. (2013). From Luminous Pictures to Transparent Photographs: The Evolution of Techniques for Making Magic Lantern Slides. The Magic Lantern Gazette (2013) 25, 3, 3-11.

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