After we had feasted upon the view as long as we dared, counted the lakes and streams, and found that we could see without a glass more than thirty, and recalled the memories of “good times” which came to us from almost every point of the compass, we unpacked the camera, and proceeded to take some pictures.
If you are a photographer, and have anything of the amateur’s passion for your art, you will appreciate my pleasure and my anxiety. Never before, so far as I knew, had a camera been set up on Ampersand. I had but eight plates with me. The views were all very distant and all at a downward angle. The power of the light at this elevation was an unknown quantity. And the wind was sweeping vigorously across the open summit of the mountain. I put in my smallest stop, and prepared for short exposures.
My instrument was a thing called a Tourograph, which differs from most other cameras in having the plate-holder on top of the box. The plates are dropped into a groove below, and then moved into focus, after which the cap is removed and the exposure made.
I set my instrument for Ampersand Pond, sighted the picture through the ground glass, and measured the focus. Then I waited for a quiet moment, dropped the plate, moved it carefully forward to the proper mark, and went around to take off the cap. I found that I already had it in my hand, and the plate had been exposed for about thirty seconds with a sliding focus!
I expostulated with myself. I said: “You are excited; you are stupid; you are unworthy of the name of photographer. Light-writer! You ought to write with a whitewash-brush!” The reproof was effectual, and from that moment all went well. The plates dropped smoothly, the camera was steady, the exposure was correct. Six good pictures were made, to recall, so far as black and white could do it, the delights of that day.
It has been my good luck to climb many of the peaks of the Adirondacks—Dix, the Dial, Hurricane, the Giant of the Valley, Marcy, and Whiteface—but I do not think the outlook from any of them is so wonderful and lovely as that from little Ampersand: and I reckon among my most valuable chattels the plates of glass on which the sun has traced for me (who cannot draw) the outlines of that loveliest landscape.
The downward journey was swift. We halted for an hour or two beside a trickling spring, a few rods below the summit, to eat our lunch. Then, jumping, running, and sometimes sliding, we made the descent, passed in safety by the dreaded lair of the hornet, and reached Bartlett’s as the fragrance of the evening pancake was softly diffused through the twilight. Mark that day, Memory, with a double star in your catalogue!