Polar expeditions

Polar expeditions

We are now enjoying continued coverage of the amazing polar expeditions of the early 20th century, and a renewed interest in the pioneer photographers.  My father much admired the work of Herbert Ponting, and went as often as possible to his illustrated lectures to learn more about his pioneering photographic work on the Terra Nova expedition. 

Ponting kindly helped my father in his quest to design and have built a cine camera suitable to high altitude in addition to extreme cold;  Ponting had suffered an injury to his cheek, when he had lent against the camera to steady it, so my father asked Mr Newman, of the highly specialist camera designers, Newman Sinclair, to provide a rubber shield, which would prevent my father from suffering the same fate. 

Thus, in both 1922 and 1924, my father was equipped with a cine camera beautifully crafted for the terrible conditions; it was of light-weight duralumin with special point bearings requiring no oil, as this had a tendency to freeze in low temperatures. Fully loaded, the camera weighed less than 20 pounds, and was especially fitted with an electric motor, geared to permit time-lapse photography and the long telephoto lens was given extra support, which meant a more streamlined operation.

In 1924, he decided against developing the film on the mountain;  instead, he bought land in Darjeeling and had built a specially designed photographic laboratory;  the material was sent down from the mountain by runner and mule, and processed by an experienced team of photographic assistants, who worked full time to provide still and moving images for the newspapers and Pathe News.

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