100-Year-Old Box of Negatives Discovered by Conservators in Antarctica


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Conservation specialists, working in expedition photographer Herbert Ponting’s darkroom at Scott’s Cape Evans base, discovered a small box of cellulose nitrate negatives clumped together.

For the past 100 years, a box of never-before-seen negatives has been preserved in a block of ice in Antarctica. Recently, Conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust came across the 22 exposed, but unprocessed, cellulose nitrate negatives during an attempt to restore an old exploration hut.

The negatives are believed to be from Ernest Shackleton's 1914-1917 Ross Sea Party, a group that was stranded in the hut during a blizzard when their ship blew out to sea. They were eventually rescued, but the box remained buried until now.

A Wellington photography conservator carefully processed the negatives in order to reveal the historic mysteries on each frame. Though slightly damaged, the incredible images give us a rare glimpse of adventurers from the past. AHT Executive Director Nigel Watson says, “It’s the first example that I’m aware of, of undeveloped negatives from a century ago from the Antarctic heroic era. There’s a paucity of images from that expedition.”



The photographs are from Ernest Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party (1914-1917), which spent time living in Scott’s hut after being stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea. Their role was to lay vital depots for Shackleton’s expedition.

To help them in their efforts please don't forget to visit their site and donate at the Atlantic Heritage Trust

Almost one hundred years after a group of explorers set out across the frozen landscape of Antarctica to set up supply depots for famed explorer Sir ErnestShackleton, a box of 22 never-before-seen exposed but unprocessed negatives taken by the group’s photographer has been unearthed in one of those shacks, preserved in a block of ice.

This incredible discovery was made by the Conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust who are working to restore an old exploration hut. The 22 cellulose nitrate negatives were, the Trust believes, left there byShackleton’s Ross Sea Party, which became stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea during a blizzard.

As you can imagine, the negatives weren’t in the best of shape when they were found, but a Wellington photography conservator took the time to painstakingly process and restore them until they revealed their secrets.

Picture Credits NZAHT / via MyModernMet

 

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