Geology and photography

Robert Lunn and field party c.1903

This photographic revolution must have been comparable in many respects to the information technology revolution of today, and it is no wonder that the Director of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, Archibald Geikie, decided he would embrace the new technology and put it to work capturing images for the survey.

In 1891 under the direction of Survey geologist Jethro Justinian Harris Teall, Mr A Macconochie, Assistant Curator of the Survey collections, along with Mr Robert Lunn, General Assistant in the Edinburgh office, were sent to the North West Highlands to take a series of photographs in order to 'help explain points of geological structure'.

This first official photographic survey lasted several weeks and they took with them a half-plate wooden field camera and tripod using glass plate negatives.

Lunn continued to photograph in the Scottish Highlands for several years and gradually Survey geologists became interested in the benefits the new technology offered in the recording, describing and archiving of their work. By 1904, chiefly due to the work of Lunn, the Survey had begun to assemble an official picture collection.