"I saw a lot of white men almost fight today. I do not think this is good."
—Hin-mah-too-yah-la-kekt (Thunder Rolling Down the Mountains), also known as Chief Joseph, of the Nez Perce tribe, after impassively watching a football game between the Universities of Washington and Nebraska in Seattle in 1903.
Got this gem from Tim Egan's biography Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis, which I'm thoroughly enjoying so far (I'm only on page 71). It's well written—briskly paced, evocative, almost poetic in places—and it seems to be a rich story capable of firing the imagination. I'm astonished at Curtis's energy—on the Harriman expedition to Alaska, he exposed five thousand glass plates, up to near mammoth size (can't find the reference now—I think it was 17x20 inches?). Almost inconceivably difficult. I don't know about you, but send me to Alaska today and I wouldn't take 5,000 exposures with a mirrorless digital.
By the way, Chief Joseph was unmoved by the football game except when they kicked the ball, which made him laugh. The great man died a year later, exiled still from his beloved homelands.
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Featured Comments from:
Mark: "You clearly haven't been to Alaska. Five thousand exposures sounds easy to me. I didn't own a camera while I lived there for six months (a real tragedy), but I think I could hit that number on a two-week trip."
Mike replies: You're very right, I haven't been.
Lawrence Plummer: "Interesting. I had never heard the reference to the UW football game (go Huskies!). I have visited his gravesite in Nespelem, Washington, quite a few times for some photography:
Andrew Molitor: "A friend of mine has taken up wet plate in the last few years, and reports that 11x14 in a darkroom is fantastically difficult. Doing plates more than twice as big—in a tent in the wilderness makes his head hurt. He wailed, 'How do you keep the dust out?' and I could only speculate, 'Perhaps with the force of your indomitable will?'"
Derek L: "I'm with Mark...on a week long cruise a few years back, I took more than a thousand images without even particularly trying. That trip (and the Canon G10 that I bought for it) was what got me back into photography after a three decade hiatus.... Nowadays, I'd easily make two or three times as many images hunting for that elusive few. Alaska is an amazing place."