The photographs of Frank Hurley taken in Antarctica have always spoken to me. I borrowed a book “Argonauuts of the South”(1) from Morley Library it recounted his experiences in Antarctica.
In 1925 he took this photo entitled “A turreted iceberg”.(2)
The majesty of the ice was something I had never seen before. I have remembered it in all the years since.
Looking at the picture it is deep in contrast and the power of the ice has been emphasised by a low position. The structure in the sky makes a dramatic backdrop. The sea has detail and contrast and leads the eye to the ice. The out of focus land in the background adds atmosphere and gives a clue to the surroundings.
Recently on an expedition to Scoresby Sund in Greenland I found myself in the middle of many large majestic pieces of ice. I decided to pay homage to Frank Hurley and try to capture the majesty in the ice. Whilst my camera is bulky it is not a wooden large format camera that he would have used. Taking this picture made me think of the effort needed to capture the original. Not to mention the technical skill needed to develop the glass plate in sub-zero temperatures. The hardest thing was getting the horizon level on a moving ship.
Here is my Homage to that photograph.
This photo has the same drama with a structured sky and the sea leading into the berg. Plus the two background icebergs give context showing this berg will move with the tides and winds. The arch was a lucky break and adds interest. I have added a blue tint much as Hurley did to portray cold.
Having read Barrett’s essay on “Photographs and context”(3). This photo fits into original context. It is not influenced by outside sources. It records the bergs physical presence and through composition captures the power it imposes on all around. You can almost hear the groans coming from the ice and pops of bubbles of ancient air from the melting ice. But it could only ever be an iceberg in the sea.
This ice is fragile. In its layers it portrays thousands of years of snowfall. The arch may have taken years to form however it will soon fall. Because the warmth the planet is melting all the ice. In place it pours off in torrents. During our time here we saw few people, it is bewildering how we so far from this wilderness can destroy such majesty by burning fuel.
(1)Hurley, (. (n.d.). Argonauts of the south. (2)Hurley, F. (1925). An Iceberg with turret.. [Photograph] Darwin: Argonauts of the South (book). (3)Barrett, T. (1986). Photography and Context.. [Academic Journal] JSTOR, Art Education. USA.