Ken Miner lines up his next shot of Fisgard Lighthouse on Sunday morning. Miner uses an early 20th century camera and ambrotype photography to create vintage images around Victoria. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

Ken Miner lines up his next shot of Fisgard Lighthouse on Sunday morning. Miner uses an early 20th century camera and ambrotype photography to create vintage images around Victoria. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

Photographer captures vintage shots of Fisgard Lighthouse

Colwood man uses ambrotype photography to create 19th century-look

As the photography world transitioned from film to digital, Colwood’s Ken Miner went in the opposite direction.

Miner felt that this simplified way of taking pictures eliminated the deeper connection he used to have with his photos.

“You lose that tactile nature of it. You don’t get to develop film. You don’t get to stand there with the chemistry … it’s the hands-on thing that I missed,” he said.

He found an even deeper connection with his work when he got into ambrotype photography, a multi-step, 1850s-era process.

The end result is a negative image on a glass plate which can then be viewed positively when placed on a black backing.

By staying true to the original chemistry, Miner creates vintage-looking shots that appear to have been taken a century ago. It’s the ultimate “Throwback Thursday.”

While the final product is undoubtedly cool, it’s the process that really makes Miner tick.

To get the perfect shot with his 1902 Century View camera, he must first coat a glass plate with a layer of collodion – a sticky, viscous substance made up of gun cotton and dissolved in ether. From there the plate goes into a silver nitrate bath.

“When it comes out it’s light sensitive so it goes into a holder that goes into the camera,” he said.

The plate has to be wet during exposure, which can last anywhere from five seconds to a minute or two.

“Once the exposure is made it’s back to the dark room to develop it,” he explained.

For Miner, his dark room happens to be in the back of his Chevy Express van.

Once developed, the image is no longer light sensitive and is then placed in a film fixer, before being placed in water.

On Sunday morning his van was parked roughly 100 metres from Fisgard Lighthouse as he took a series of shots, each resembling something you’d sooner find in a museum archive rather than a contemporary studio.

One of the four pictures will be given to Parks Canada.

“It’s a privilege to be able to maintain those locations so that they are like they were 150 years ago … a project like this, it’s kind of neat to put the two together,” said Sophie Lauro, Parks Canada promotions officer.

The historic lighthouse may have been the subject on this day, but Miner’s portfolio includes a range of shots, from portraits to antiques to old-time cars.

Sunday was his first attempt at capturing a historical site, and he said he was ultimately pleased with the results.

“I think it went great. I would love to do more of that. Actually, I would like to shoot as many lighthouses on the coast as I can. I think it’s really neat and fits the process really well,” he said.

joel.tansey@goldstreamgazette.com

Ken Miner eyes a shot of the Fisgard Lighthouse with his early 20th century camera. Miner spent Sunday morning taking vintage, Ambrotype photographs of the lighthouse. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

Ken Miner eyes a shot of the Fisgard Lighthouse with his early 20th century camera. Miner spent Sunday morning taking vintage, Ambrotype photographs of the lighthouse. (Joel Tansey/News Gazette staff)

Colwood

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Postmark Group, an Edmonton-based development firm, bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year, and is reaching out to the community and local groups for feedback before they begin planning the designs for the development. (Photo contributed/Postmark Group)
Waterfront village development eyed for Sooke

Postmark Group development firm bought two properties at 6641 and 6643 Sooke Rd. last year

Friends have identified the man killed in Friday’s shooting in Metchosin as Shane Wilson. (Shane Wilson/Facebook)
West Shore RCMP continue to investigate shooting death in Metchosin

Man killed on Sooke Road Friday night identified by friends

Fire Chief Darren Hughes, right, pulls the old Firemans Park sign off ahead of the parks name change. The new sign for Firefighters Park is coming. (Oak Bay Fire Department Twitter)
Oak Bay changes the name of Fireman’s Park

New sign for Firefighter’s Park on the way

Alphabet Zoo Early Learning Centre wants to relocate from Langford to 3322 Fulton Rd. in Colwood, but has not been approved for a P-6 zoning by Colwood council. Residents who neighbour the property, have expressed concern to the Goldstream Gazette regarding the potential daycare site. Neighbours Ryan Landa and Selene Winchester said the noise of construction has been disruptive to the area, and the property is not suitable for a daycare. (Photo contributed/Ryan Landa)
Proposed West Shore daycare stirs up controversy amongst neighbours

Neighbouring property owners are concerned about traffic, noise that a daycare would bring to the area

Ravi Jain, Why Not Theatre’s founding artistic director, will present a Zoom lecture as part of the University of Victoria’s Orion fine art series on March 8. (Photo: University of Victoria).
Award-winning directors highlight coming University of Victoria lecture series

The March 8 and 18 Zoom events are part of the Orion fine arts lecture series

Const. Nancy Saggar, who has 11 years in policing, offers advice for other women who may pursue both policing and family. (Black Press Media file photo)
Pregnancy prompts sage advice from RCMP officer for women thinking about policing

West Shore constable with 11 years experience heads off on maternity leave

A special committee has been appointed to look at reforming B.C.’s police act and is inviting the public to make submissions until April 30, 2021. (Black Press media file)
Have thoughts on B.C.’s review of the provincial Police Act?

Submissions will be accepted until April 30

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on Nanaimo back road

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

Most Read