South with Endurance: Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917, the Photographs of Frank Hurley.

This book has a wider focus than the title implies, including more material on Hurley’s photographic career than his Antarctic photographs. But it covers the Antarctic work well, from archives of RGS, the State Library of New South Wales, and of SPRI, Cambridge.

p. 19: Hurley salvaged the bulk of his photographic equipment, glass plates and cinematograph film on November 2 [1915]. Determined to retrieve them, he visited the wreck with Walter How and shoehow cut into the refrigerator where he managed to fish out his zinc-lined galvanized tins, discovering them mostly unharmed, and returned triumphantly to camp with them.

A week later Hurley selected the pick of his negatives, about 150 he reckoned in his original diary, and, because of weight restrictions imposed by Shackleton, destroyed what he estimated to be about 400 glass negatives. His plan seems to have been to make inter-negatives of his Green Album photos when returning to civilization. Nearly two dozen “keepers” were Paget Colour Plates. The Paget process was a lumbering turn-of-the-century method by which color images could be captured and printed. It is interesting to note that Hurley’s Endurance Paget Colour Plates are some of the only survivors of the medium.

p. 24, on departure of James Caird from Elephant Island: Among other materials loaded aboard the Caird for its perilous journey were “McNish’s adze, a Primus Cooker, Shackleton’s shotgun, 36 gallons (164 l) of water, 112 pounds (50.8 kg) of ice, and about a ton of rocks for use as ballast. Some of Hurley’s photographs also went aboard, probably in the box made up that morning by Orde Lees which contained Worsley’s logbooks.

p. 48, while waiting for the demise of the Endurance: During the months on the floating ice, Hurley had relatively little opportunity for photography due to the bad weather. However, on August 27, he did manage to capture the now-famous flash photographs of the imprisoned Endurance. …

When the expedition members abandoned the ship, Hurley was told to leave behind all film, equipment, and even his exposed plates. Ignoring Shackleton’s orders, Hurley managed to retrieve the glass plates from the mushy ice water inside the shipwreck. Shackleton caught him doing this but a compromise was reached and Huxley saved some glass plate negatives, the already developed cinema film, one small Kodak camera, and three rolls of unexposed film. He smashed and left behind about 400 glass plates.