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HomeContentsThemes > Antarctica

Contents

The need for photography
10033.01   Letter from John Herschel to Daguerre (1 August 1939)
Introduction
10033.02   Introduction to photography in Antarctica
10033.03   Roald Amundsen: Amundsen's South Pole expedition (1910-1912)
Photographers
10033.04   Herbert Ponting: British Antarctic Expedition - Scott - Terra Nova (1910-1913)
10033.05   Frank Hurley: Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1913)
10033.06   Frank Hurley: Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917)
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated.
 
  
The need for photography 
  
10033.01   Antarctica >  Letter from John Herschel to Daguerre (1 August 1939) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
Between the first public announcement of the invention of the daguerreotype by Dominique François Jean Arago in Paris on the 7th January 1839 and the description of the process on 19th August 1839 the public and the scientific community was in a state of expectation.
 
In England there was a pressing scientific need for the equipment as an expedition to Antarctica was in the final stages of preparation and it was felt that daguerreotype apparatus would be "invaluable". A letter from John Herschel to Daguerre a few weeks before the public announcement of the process highlights the pressing need:
[Addressed to] A Monsr
Monsr. Daguerre, 17 Boulevard St Martin, Paris
 
[Addressed from] Royal Society, Somerset House, London
August 1, 1839.
 
Dear Sir,
As I see by the public papers that your beautiful process for the photographic representation of objects is speedily about to be made public in consequence of the vote of the Chamber of Deputies equally honorable to that body and to yourself permit me to apply to you in the name of the Council of the Royal Society for the purpose of procuring, if possible, an apparatus with the proper Camera Obscura and 100 plates properly prepared to receive impressions, and with instructions for its use and for executing the singular and extraordinary process by which you have been able to effect such wonders — If the request appears to you extraordinary, the circumstances of the case will explain it. — Captain Ross (the discoverer of the Northern Magnetic Pole) is about to proceed on a Voyage of Discovery and circumnavigation of the Antarctic Pole, in command of two Ships, the Terror and Erebus, admirably equipped and every way furnished with instruments of Science and Art. Now the Council of the Royal Society are earnestly desirous that the Expedition should sail provided with the invaluable resources furnished by the Daguerrotype process — for depicting the scenes they may visit — and as it will be yet 3 weeks before the sailing of the Ships, and it has been stated that within that time your process will probably be divulged — they consider that the importance of the occasion justifies this direct application to you.
 
I shall hope for your early reply, and that it will be such as to enable me to announce to the Council that the apparatus and instructions will be forwarded in time (ie to arrive before the 20th August, inst.) Should you wish that the instructions should yet remain for some time secret you may send them sealed and may rely on them not being opened till the Ships shall have passed the Cape of Good Hope — In that case you will have the goodness expressly to write to that effect.
 
I have the honor to be
Sir, Your very obedient
J. F. W. Herschel.
 
PS. I would beg leave to refer to M. Arago for any explanations should you think them needed —
In case of your reply being in the affirmative, I would request you to state the probable cost of the apparatus[1]
No known photographs have survived from Ross' expedition but there is evidence that Dr. Hooker, who accompanied the voyage, may have had access to equipment for making both daguerreotypes and calototypes.[2] 
  
Introduction 
  
10033.02   Antarctica >  Introduction to photography in Antarctica 
  
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Significant expeditions to the Antarctica[3] for which photographs survive include:
Amundsen's South Pole expedition - Roald Amundsen - Fram (1910-1912)[4]
 
Herbert Ponting: British Antarctic Expedition - Robert Falcon Scott - Terra Nova (1910-1913)[5]
 
Frank Hurley: Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition - Ernest Shackleton - Endurance (1914-1917)[6] In December 2013 the find of a further cache of cellulose nitrate negatives was announced showing photographs by an unidentified photographer of this expedition.[7]
Once expeditions left the relative safety of the ships and base camps they were on their own and photographers often did not accompany the most dangerous parts of the journeys and so they trained the participants - explorers like Captain Scott[8] and Roald Amundsen[4] took their own photographs. 
  
10033.03   Antarctica >  Roald Amundsen: Amundsen's South Pole expedition (1910-1912) 
  
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Roald Amundsen[10] and his party were the first to reach the South Pole to be followed by Robert Falcon Scott and his team. Amundsen took photographs[11] during his expedition. 
  
Photographers 
  
10033.04   Antarctica >  Herbert Ponting: British Antarctic Expedition - Scott - Terra Nova (1910-1913) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Herbert Ponting (1870-1935)[12] was expedition photographer and cinematographer on the British Antarctic Expedition[13] led by the iconic Robert Falcon Scott[14] on the Terra Nova (1910-1913). Ponting used flash photography and glass plates even though film had been available long before the exhibition. Being older Ponting did not go with the doomed party to the Pole and stayed at the winter camp at Cape Evans, Ross Island which he documented. He took a over 1,700 photographic plates along with movie footage. [15]
 
After reaching the South Pole and discovering that Amundsen had beaten them the team had a doomed return trip that was never completed. Scott left a "Message to the Public" that was a plea for understanding:
We took risks, we knew we took them; things have come out against us, and therefore we have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of Providence, determined still to do our best to the last ... Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance, and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale, but surely, surely, a great rich country like ours will see that those who are dependent on us are properly provided for.[16]
 
  
10033.05   Antarctica >  Frank Hurley: Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1913) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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In 1911 under the leadership of Dr. Douglas Mawson the Australasian Antarctic Expedition set out for Macquarie Island and as yet unexplored parts of Antarctica. The official expedition photographer was Frank Hurley (1885-1962) but information Mawson gave on the negatives indicates the photographs were taken by at least 20 people.[17] 
  
10033.06   Antarctica >  Frank Hurley: Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Frank Hurley[18] was an Australian photographer and cinematographer who accompanied many notable expeditions including that the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton (1914-1915). Hurley took glass plates and far rarer Paget colour plates. Forced to abandon their expedition ship the Endurance Hurley had choices forced upon him.
After they abandoned the debilitated Endurance, Shackleton ordered the crew members to pare their personal possessions down to two pounds each. Hurley had to leave his precious cameras behind, but Shackleton allowed him to keep a selection of photographs and motion-picture footage. Stripped to the waist, Hurley dove into the icy waters to retrieve his treasured images from the sinking wreck of the ship. Together, Shackleton and Hurley chose 120 glass plates to keep and smashed about 400; Shackleton feared that Hurley would endanger himself to return for them later. Hurley sealed the plates in metal tins with improvised solder, along with prints he had developed on board the ship. Hurley documented the remainder of their odyssey with only a handheld Vest Pocket Kodak camera and three rolls of film. [19]
He was also a notable war photographer during both the First and Second World Wars
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Herschel’s Letter to Daguerre
    (Accessed: 1 September 2013)
    www.midley.co.uk/daguerreotype/dpatent_addenda.htm
     
    R. Derek Wood published the letter as Appendum 1 to his article - R. Derek Wood, January 1980, "The daguerreotype patent, the British Government, and the Royal Society", History of Photography, vol. 4, pp. 53-59.
     
    On the webite he provided the context of the letter:
    The first item is a letter now in the Autograph Letter Collection of the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, London. It was purchased in Paris in June 1930. This letter to L. J. M. Daguerre was written on 1 August 1839 by Sir John Herschel on behalf of the Royal Society. Daguerre's discovery had been publicized since January of that year and Daguerre had displayed daguerreotypes to many people in Paris. Herschel himself had been shown some during a visit to Paris in May. But until Daguerre obtained a pension from the French Government, no details of the technique were released until 19th August 1839. No reply from Daguerre is known.
     
      
  2. Λ Glenn M. Stein, 2007-2012, "Photography Comes to the Polar Regions—Almost", unpublished article [pers. email: Glenn M. Stein to Alan Griffiths, 31 August 2013] 
      
  3. Λ For a list of Antarctica expeditions - Wikipedia
    (Accessed: 1 August 2013)
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Antarctic_expeditions 
      
  4. Λ Roald Amundsen, Thorvald Nilsen & Kristian, 1912, The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian expedition in the Fram, 1910–12, (London: John Murray), [Two volumes] 
      
  5. Λ David Hempleman-Adams, Emma Stuart & Sophie Gordon, 2009, The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography, (Bloomsbury USA); Herbert Ponting & Frank Hurley, 1979, Antarctic Photographs, 1910-1916: Scott, Mawson and Shackleton Expeditions, (Pan Macmillan); Herbert Ponting, 2004, With Scott to the Pole: The Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-1913, (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC); David M. Wilson, 2011, The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott: Unseen Images from the Legendary Antarctic Expedition, (Little, Brown and Company) 
      
  6. Λ For the photographs of Frank Hurley - Helen Ennis, 2010, Frank Hurley's Antarctica, (National Library of Australia); David Hempleman-Adams, Emma Stuart & Sophie Gordon, 2009, The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography, (Bloomsbury USA); Herbert Ponting & Frank Hurley, 1979, Antarctic Photographs, 1910-1916: Scott, Mawson and Shackleton Expeditions, (Pan Macmillan) 
      
  7. Λ Discoveries of the Antarctic Heritage Trust (New Zealand) - Press release - 10 December 2013
    (Accessed: 31 December 2013)
    www.nzaht.org/content/library/Century_old_Antarctic_images_discovered_10_Dec_2013_NZAHT.pdf 
      
  8. Λ David M. Wilson, 2011, The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott: Unseen Images from the Legendary Antarctic Expedition, (Little, Brown and Company) 
      
  9. Λ Roland Huntford, 1987, The Amundsen Photographs, (Atlantic Monthly Press) 
      
  10. Λ Roald Amundsen, Thorvald Nilsen & Kristian, 1912, The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian expedition in the Fram, 1910–12, (London: John Murray), [Two volumes] 
      
  11. Λ Roland Huntford, 1987, The Amundsen Photographs, (Atlantic Monthly Press)
     
    Some of Amundsen's photographs are an the National Library of Norway in Oslo. 
      
  12. Λ Herbert G. Ponting, 1921, The Great White South, or, With Scott in the Antarctic being an account of experiences with Captain Scott's South Pole Expedition and of the nature life of the Antarctic, with an introduction by Lady Scott, (London: Duckworth)
     
    Herbert Ponting, 2004, With Scott to the Pole: The Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-1913, (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC); Herbert Ponting & Frank Hurley, 1979, Antarctic Photographs, 1910-1916: Scott, Mawson and Shackleton Expeditions, (Pan Macmillan)
     
    In 2009 a portfolio of platinum prints titled Captain Scott's Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913: The Photographs of Herbert Ponting was published by Salto Ulbeek in association with the Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge.
    (Accessed: 1 September 2013)
    www.ponting-portfolio.com/ 
      
  13. Λ The name of the expedition varies with "British Antarctic Expedition", "Terra Nova Expedition", "Terra Nova Expedition to the Ross Sea and South Pole" all being used. 
      
  14. Λ The literature on Robert Falcon Scott is vast - Leonard Huxley (ed.), 1913, Scott's Last Expedition, Volume I: Being the Journals of Captain R.F. Scott, R.N., C.V.O., (London: Smith, Elder); Leonard Huxley (ed.), 1913, Scott's Last Expedition, Volume II: Being the reports of the journeys and the scientific work undertaken by Dr. E.A. Wilson and the surviving members of the expedition, (London: Smith, Elder & Co.)
     
    More recent volumes - Max Jones, 2003, The Last Great Quest: Captain Scott's Antarctic Sacrifice, (Oxford: Oxford University Press); Ranulph Fiennes, 2003, Captain Scott, (London: Hodder & Stoughton); Susan Solomon, 2001, The Coldest March: Scott's Fatal Antarctic Expedition, (London: Yale University Press); David Crane, (2005). Scott of the Antarctic: A Life of Courage, and Tragedy in the Extreme South, (London: HarperCollins) 
      
  15. Λ The Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge purchased the Herbert Ponting Collection in 2004 for £533,000.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Ponting 
      
  16. Λ Leonard Huxley (ed.), 1913, Scott's Last Expedition, Volume I: Being the Journals of Captain R.F. Scott, R.N., C.V.O., (London: Smith, Elder), pp. 605-607 
      
  17. Λ Photographs of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-14, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, Australia
    (Accessed: 4 December 2013)
    www.acmssearch.sl.nsw.gov.au/search/itemDetailPaged.cgi?itemID=41153 
      
  18. Λ Helen Ennis, 2010, Frank Hurley's Antarctica, (National Library of Australia); David Hempleman-Adams, Emma Stuart Sophie Gordon, 2009, The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography, (Bloomsbury USA); Herbert Ponting & Frank Hurley, 1979, Antarctic Photographs, 1910-1916: Scott, Mawson and Shackleton Expeditions, (Pan Macmillan) 
      
  19. Λ Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition: Frank Hurley, Expedition photographer and cinematographer - WGBH
    (Accessed: 2 September 2013)
    main.wgbh.org/imax/shackleton/sirernest-two.html 
      

alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  

HomeContents > Further research

 
  
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General reading 
  
Fogg, G.E., 2005, A History of Antarctic Science, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) [Δ
  
Huntford, Roland, 1987, The Amundsen Photographs, (Atlantic Monthly Press) isbn-10: 0871131714 isbn-13: 978-0871131713 [First US edition] [Δ
  
Wilson, David M., 2011, The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott: Unseen Images from the Legendary Antarctic Expedition, (Little, Brown and Company) isbn-10: 0316178500 isbn-13: 978-0316178501 [Δ
  
 
  
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
  
Frank Hurley 
  
Ennis, Helen, 2010, Frank Hurley's Antarctica, (National Library of Australia) isbn-10: 0642276986 isbn-13: 978-0642276988 [Δ
  
Hempleman-Adams, David, Stuart, Emma & Gordon, Sophie, 2009, The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography, (Bloomsbury USA) isbn-10: 1608190072 isbn-13: 978-1608190072 [Δ
  
McGregor, Frank, 2004, Frank Hurley: A Photographer's Life, (Viking) isbn-10: 0670888958 isbn-13: 978-0670888955 [Δ
  
Ponting, Herbert & Hurley, Frank, 1979, Antarctic Photographs, 1910-1916: Scott, Mawson and Shackleton Expeditions, (Pan Macmillan) isbn-10: 0333275454 isbn-13: 978-0333275450 [Δ
  
Herbert G. Ponting 
  
Hempleman-Adams, David, Stuart, Emma & Gordon, Sophie, 2009, The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography, (Bloomsbury USA) isbn-10: 1608190072 isbn-13: 978-1608190072 [Δ
  
Ponting, Herbert, 2004, With Scott to the Pole: The Terra Nova Expedition, 1910-1913, (Bloomsbury Publishing PLC) isbn-10: 0747569681 isbn-13: 978-0747569688 [Δ
  
Ponting, Herbert & Hurley, Frank, 1979, Antarctic Photographs, 1910-1916: Scott, Mawson and Shackleton Expeditions, (Pan Macmillan) isbn-10: 0333275454 isbn-13: 978-0333275450 [Δ
  
Ponting, Herbert G., 1921, The Great White South, or, With Scott in the Antarctic being an account of experiences with Captain Scott's South Pole Expedition and of the nature life of the Antarctic, with an introduction by Lady Scott, (London: Duckworth) [Δ
  
Wilson, David M., 2011, The Lost Photographs of Captain Scott: Unseen Images from the Legendary Antarctic Expedition, (Little, Brown and Company) isbn-10: 0316178500 isbn-13: 978-0316178501 [Δ
  
Eliot Porter 
  
Porter, Eliot, 1978, Antarctica, (E. P. Dutton) isbn-10: 0091363403 isbn-13: 978-0091363406 [Δ
  
 
  
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com 
  

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

 
John Edward Davis  (1815-1877) • Martin Gusinde • Josef Hoflehner  (1955-) • Frank Hurley  (1885-1962) • Laurence Le Guay  (1917-1991) • Herbert G. Ponting  (check) • Galen Rowell  (1940-2002) • David Stephenson  (1955-)
HomeGeographical regions > Antarctica 
 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
  
Expeditions and exploration 
 
  

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Antarctica

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
ThumbnailAntarctica - Le Grand Blanc 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (November 21, 2010)
 
  

HomeVisual indexes > Antarctica

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
   People 
  
ThumbnailRobert Falcon Scott 
 
 
  
   Photographer 
  
ThumbnailFrank Hurley: Australasian Antarctic Expedition (1911-1913) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailFrank Hurley: Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHerbert Ponting: British Antarctic Expedition - Scott - Terra Nova (1910-1913) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailImperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (1914-1917) 
 
  
   Connections 
  
ThumbnailRoald Amundsen (1872-1928) 
 
 
  
   Themes 
  
ThumbnailScientific: Expeditions: British Antarctic Expedition - Shackleton - Nimrod (1907-1909) 
 
 
  
   Geography 
  
ThumbnailAntarctica 
 
 
  
Refreshed: 27 September 2014, 11:53
 
  
 
  
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