Photograph of Ramboda Falls, Sri Lanka Sri Lanka

Ramboda Falls, Sri Lanka
Ramboda Falls, Sri Lanka

Custodian: University of Glasgow Library Special Collections

Reference: Dougan 96, item 153

The Ramboda Falls in central Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) are 109m high and are formed by the Panna Oya. The Falls are located south of the small town of the Pussellawa in a major tea-growing area.

Photographer: Colin Murray for Bourne & Shepherd

Material: albumen print photograph

Dimensions: 298 x 237mm

Condition: The print will have been toned but there is very slight fading to the edges.

Collection information: Dougan 96 comprises a large album containing 175 photographs (albumen prints produced from wet collodion negatives) of South Asia, taken c. 1860–70. Most of the photographs are the work of Samuel Bourne, considered among the finest 19th-century landscape photographers. The majority of the images feature urban and rural scenes in India; others were taken in Pakistan, Kashmir, Sri Lanka and Burma.

Samuel Bourne worked in India in 1863–70 in partnership with Charles Shepherd. Many of Bourne's images have an almost pastoral appearance reflecting the influence of his English background. Bourne used the wet collodion process, which required that the glass negative plate be coated and sensitised, before being exposed in the camera while still moist and developed immediately afterwards. This made it essential that the photographer had a portable darkroom, in Bourne’s case a tent. His extensive equipment also included hundreds of glass plates up to 300 x 375mm; cameras; chemicals; and all the domestic provisions to survive in remote locations. At times he needed an entourage of sixty people to help him, and had to in inhospitable conditions which ranged from sweltering heat to freezing cold.

Photographs numbered above 2080 were probably taken after Bourne left India and have been attributed to Colin Murray (1840–84) who took Bourne's place at Bourne and Shepherd. There is little information for dating the Murray prints but they are probably from the early 1870s. Bourne produced over 2000 images in seven years; the numbers on prints photographed by Murray rise only a few hundred more.

The Dougan collection documents the development of photography from the 1840s to the early 20th century. It was purchased in 1953 from Robert O. Dougan, at the time the deputy librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.