July 21, 2024

I came across a fascinating book yesterday that would (hint, hint) make for a great upcoming birthday present:  The Heart of the Great Alone: Scott, Shackleton, and Antarctic Photography.

As a massive fan of Antarctic adventures, the title alone gets my juices going but it’s what’s inside that’s really exciting:  a treasure trove of photos – many never before published – from two of the greatest Antarctic expeditions of the 20th century.  Epic failures (Scott perished during his 1910 expedition, while Shackleton’s epic open sea voyage and subsequent rescue of his entire crew is the stuff of legend) they were both coincidentally well documented by Herbert George Ponting and Frank Hurley, respectively – two photographers whose struggles with bulky cameras and glass plate negatives in one of the most hostile environments on the planet were nothing less than heroic.  How these photographs survived and made it back to England is a miracle.

It’s a bit of a disappointment that the book is not in a larger format.  Nor does it compare to the exhaustive catalog of Hurley’s photographs that was published a few years ago.  Nevertheless, it’s an interesting contrast to see the two expeditions juxtaposed.  I’m hoping I get the chance to peruse it more thoroughly once February rolls around.

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