When Roger Fenton arrived in Sebastopol in March 1855, the climatic conditions were favourable for the use of wet plates. "From then to the beginning of spring, the light and temperature were the best a photographer could ask for" he reported. As the season advanced, the light became stronger, the temperature hotter and the flies bothered the photographer who then started to take photographs of the military leaders in the early morning, as this was the only suitable time to work. "It is impossible to work after nine or ten o'clock because of the intense heat, which makes the corks on my bottles pop, and ruins all the pictures."
Fenton was particularly keen to show the ethnic diversity in the allied camp: Croats, Egyptians, Macedonians, Zouaves and Algerian infantrymen – he had himself photographed by his assistant Marcus Sparling, in a Zouave uniform, an infantry brigade created in 1831 in Algeria which distinguished itself during the Crimean War.
Fenton returned to London at the end of June 1855 with three hundred and sixty photographs, without having seen the fall of Sebastopol on the 8 September 1855. Another British photographer, James Robertson, then went into what was left of the town after three hundred and forty days of siege, and in mid-November the Frenchmen Jean-Charles Langlois and Léon Eugène Méhedin arrived.