Herbert Ponting

David M

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I thought we might like to get ourselves ready for winter.

Herbert Ponting went with Scott to the Antarctic. His first darkroom was 6'x4' on the deck of the sailing ship Terra Nova, which he used to make photographs during the voyage. When the ship arrived at solid ice, he built a new darkroom and store directly on the ice, with his own hands (everyone else was too busy). This was a luxurious 8'x6' but he had to scrape the ice off the inside walls when it grew to six inches thick. It took two days to thaw his glass plates before he could develop them.
I've seen real prints from his negatives and they are very fine indeed. We've all seen and admired Ice Cave. A hero.

See: https://huxleyparlour.com/artists/herbert-ponting/

Clearly, he was a master of highlight control. Does anybody know what magical developer he used for these images? Clearly it had a very long life, because there was no way of getting new supplies and as we can see, it could handle an enormous brightness range.


Ian Grant

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I've been in the Darkroom on Discovery Scott's earlier ship. They were using Pyrogallol developers which are rather forgiving as the tanning effects and the stain prevent highlights blowing out.