Friday, November 27, 2009

Polar paparazzi

When the crew of the Endurance was trapped in the winter ice, the frozen sea working like a vise to crush their ride home, photographer Frank Hurley made pictures. It wasn't easy, what with the flesh-freezing winds and that whole winter-long night going on. But he strung some lights for this classic.
Here's what he wrote in his diary:
“During night take flashlight of ship beset by pressure, This necessitated some 20 flashes, one behind each salient pressure hummock, no less than 10 of the flashes being required to satisfactory illuminate the ship herself. Half blinded after the successive flashes, I lost my bearings amidst the hummocks ,bumping shins against projecting ice points and stumbling into deep snow drifts.”
For all his work, just a fraction of his images survive. When Ernest Shackleton ordered the abandoning of the ship, the "boss" helped him cull through the bulky glass plates that did then what our tiny memory cards do in today's digital cameras. To make sure Hurley wasn't tempted to go back and retrieve more pictures, Shackleton insisted on shattering the discards.
Why'd they take any at all when weight was so critical? Their sale was one of the few things the crew had to make money off of the journey.
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