Francis Frith (English, 1822–1898) “Mount Hermon, The Mount of Transfiguration,”ca. 1857, Albumen silver print from glass negative
Selected by Francesca Tamse
Mount Hermon, a mountain range that runs across the Syrian and Lebanese border is truly a marvelous landscape. What is amazing about looking at a beautiful landscape such as this is placing oneself. The layers of rock that make up the foreground are rich with texture, it gives ability to become tactile in the photograph. The mountains in the distance covered by fog feel ghostly and mysterious, and possible to feel that the horizons feel infinite.
Notable for his ambitious expeditions in Egypt, Frith brought back the images as postcard and stereograph for a wider audience to experience the scene, ‘as if they were there’. Detail in the rock in the foreground is at eye level, a conscious decision for the production of a stereo card.
Looking at this image one-hundred fifty-five years later, the conventions of a landscape in contemporary photography have not changed. The vantage point of the landscape and the mountain as a whole is epic, grand, and monumental. The millions of tourist photographs taken of Hermon today, (parts of the range are now a ski resort to the many wealthy) cannot compare to one of the pioneer who experienced this landscape.