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Thread: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

  1. #1
    Dave Karp
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    Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    I was browsing at a Barnes & Noble bookstore today and came across a nice book, entitled South with Endurance, Shackelton's Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917, the Photographs of Frank Hurley, by BCL Press. The copyright dates are 2001 & 2004.

    The book is full of Hurley's photographs from the Endurance expedition, including some from color plates. There are far more photos than those in the book that accompanied the traveling exhibit of Hurley's photos a few years ago. The reproductions are not the very best, but pretty good.

    I find Hurley's ability to make those photographs under conditions of such adversity amazing. I am looking forward to reading the text as well as spending more time with the photos. The Foreward includes some fun information, including the fact that he had three exposures left when the crew was finally rescued (what film management!), and that the crew was impressed with his dedication to photography "to the extent that he would rather take photographs than play football!" There is also a section on his equipment, which should also be interesting.

    The book was in the bargain section, and was $12.98.

  2. #2

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    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    I have that book too. $12.98 is an excellent bargan as it was originally $50. (And worth it! -- 500 photographs!). There is a photo of Hurley sitting up in the rigging of the ship with a view camera.

    I believe most of the negatives were left behind after the sinking of the Endurance and Hurley was able to sneak out prints in the pages of books. A great story and a good book for the collection.

  3. #3

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    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    Out of over 500 glass plates he could only take 120 with him. For some reason, rather than just let them sink with the ship, he smashed some 400 of them on the ice ( )... There was a good documentary on Hurley on the BBC a few months ago - hopefully it will find its way to overseas TV at some point.

    Also: http://www.kodak.com/US/en/corp/features/endurance/

    Cheers, Bob.

  4. #4
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    Its interesting. I always thought of his smashing the glass plates as an act of defiance: Hurley's way of saying he would not let nature victimize him. If he could not keep every plate, he would decide what would happen to them.

    If I recall properly, he went into the ship when it was being crushed by the ice and saved some of his photos.
    Last edited by David Karp; 4-Aug-2006 at 19:28.

  5. #5

    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    I would highly recommend looking for the National Geographic article from several years ago about the rediscovery of those photographs and the expedition. There was a book written by the same author that published soon after.

    Not only were the photographs made under extreme conditions, Hurley was ordered by Shackelton to leave the equipment and plates on board as the ship went under. We're all fortunate that he didn't follow orders.

    The photographs also document a heroic trip in which all of the crew members survived. The history of the expedition because World War I broke out and Europe's attention was focused on that.

    Everything about this story is just flat-out cool.
    "I meant what I said, not what you heard"--Jflavell

  6. #6
    Gordon Coale's Avatar
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    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    I recommend: The Endurance : Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition by Caroline Alexander. According to Alexander, Hurley did follow orders. He was to select a number of the glass plates. They were sealed in tins for protection. I think it was around 120 plates. This isn't something that could be hidden in the dog sleds and small boats that they traveled in after the Endurance sank. That would still have been a load to carry around. Not something he was going to slip inside is coat.

    Alexander tells the entire story of the expedition which is pretty amazing. Shakelton didn't lose a single member of the expedition.

    Hurley used whole plate (6 1/4" x 8 1/2") and half plate (4 1/4" x 6 1/2") plate cameras. He also shot some movie film. Truly amazing work under extreme conditions.

  7. #7

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    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    Gordon's correct, he didn't disobey orders or "sneak out" with the plates. The captain allowed Hurley to keep 120 plates. The plates were stored in the ship and at that point were under four or five feet of water. So Hurley just stripped and dove into the water (Antarctica water no less!) to retrieve them. He didn't destroy the remaining plates as an act of defiance. He didn't want to have second thoughts about which to keep and which to leave so rather than subject himself to that kind of indecision he just broke the ones he decided to leave.

    While Hurley used large plate cameras at the beginning, he couldn't take those cameras with him when the ship was abandoned so IIRC the later photographs were made with a small hand-held Kodak camera of some sort.

    And imagine, they went through this whole two year ordeal and nobody complained that it was all FEMA's fault.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  8. #8

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    Re: Book of Frank Hurley's Photos

    A couple of years ago we were lucky enough to see some of Hurley's original prints at an exhibition at the Fox-Talbot museum in Lacock, England. Absolutley breathtaking. There were also some movies to watch.
    Mark Pope
    Swindon, Wilts, UK

    http://www.monomagic.co.uk

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