Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Just put 'em in the freezer...
May 30, 2014 5:57 AM   Subscribe

In 2013, NZ researchers looking at conserving evidence from the Shackleton Expedition (1914-17) found 22 unprocessed negatives stored in a box at a hut where a group of stranded explorers had sheltered. "Though slightly damaged, the incredible images give us a rare glimpse of adventurers from the past."
posted by sneebler (46 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
I clearly see a UFO in that third shot.

Is that just a smudge? Or the Flying Sub?
posted by wittgenstein at 6:11 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


OH MY GOD YES. When I read Endurance, one of the most heartbreaking things about it (aside from THE DOGS) was when the expedition photographer had to decide to dump most of his photographic plates. I can't believe they actually found some of them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:13 AM on May 30 [8 favorites]


"I am just going out to the photomat. I may be some time."*




---------------------
* Yes, yes, I know.
posted by Herodios at 6:16 AM on May 30 [14 favorites]


Great. More faux filtered old-timey Instagrams of bearded hipsters wearing 19th century style of clothing.
posted by pashdown at 6:17 AM on May 30 [14 favorites]


View more of the images (total of 14, with detailed captions underneeath) in the small format slide show here. — site of the Antarctic Heritage Trust which announced the discovery (PDF) The fellow standing in one image is identified as "Ross Sea Party member Alexander Stevens, Shackleton’s Chief Scientist, standing on-board the Aurora."

They also found Shackleton's whisky.
posted by beagle at 6:33 AM on May 30 [4 favorites]


Since we are talking about Shackleton, I feel the need to link to my favourite 'help wanted' ad ever.
posted by Megami at 6:39 AM on May 30 [15 favorites]


I just finished reading Alone on the Ice, by David Roberts and I have decided that the early Antarctic explorers were, without a doubt, the toughest motherfuckers who ever lived.

Based on that book, as well as Endurance, there are a lot of undeveloped photographs left behind on Antarctica. There must be some way of tracking them down with, I dunno, some sort of chemical detector or something.

As showbiz_liz said, it was so sad when they'd have to leave the film behind, just so they would up their chances of surviving another month or two of hauling a sledge across a frozen wasteland. Also, yeah, the dogs.
posted by bondcliff at 6:43 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Frank Hurley was the photographer for the Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (the one with the Endurance you hear so much about). He got a well-deserved Metafilter post awhile back.

These photos are from the Ross Sea Party, which was to traverse part of Antarctica starting from the other side to lay in food caches for Shackleton's planned crossing of the continent. While not quite reaching the epic levels of Shackleton's ordeal, the Ross Sea Party lost their ship too, along with two expedition members. The Lost Men is a good book about that part of the expedition.
posted by marxchivist at 6:46 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


my favourite 'help wanted' ad ever

Almost as good: "ORPHANS PREFERRED".
 
posted by Herodios at 7:05 AM on May 30


These photos are from the Ross Sea Party

Ain't no party like a Ross Sea party.
posted by yoink at 8:05 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


Since we are talking about Shackleton, I feel the need to link to my favourite 'help wanted' ad ever.

And then some of those crazy guys reupped for the Terra Nova Expedition with Scott!
posted by Jahaza at 8:17 AM on May 30


And then some of those crazy guys reupped for the Terra Nova Expedition with Scott!

Nevermind, they were on Shakleton's first expedition.
posted by Jahaza at 8:22 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Almost as good: "ORPHANS PREFERRED".

I'm from St. Joseph, Missouri and that ad is actually a fake, created after the Pony Express had ceased operations. Who knew my grade school field trips would come in handy on metafilter?
posted by something something at 8:32 AM on May 30 [7 favorites]


You have to admit that want ad didn't exaggerate. If anything, it painted a rosy picture.

Call film old fashioned, but digital images probably won't last as long as these have.
posted by tommasz at 8:41 AM on May 30


If Shackleton had digital images, he probably would have had a satellite uplink so the images would have been available immediately around the world. Also the whole rescue part of the expedition would have been a lot less interesting.
posted by Nelson at 8:55 AM on May 30


I feel the need to link to my favourite 'help wanted' ad ever.

Sadly, that image is a mockup and the whole story is apocryphal. See here.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 8:58 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


They also found Shackleton's whisky.

And then they recreated it. Seriously, if anyone wants to get me a gift....
posted by dnash at 9:00 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


I am much excited by this. I am a Shackleton Nut.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:18 AM on May 30


I was working with one of the Turnbull Library's librarians on an unrelated project in 2008 when she got the job of going to Antarctica and conserving the books that had been left in the Shackleton hut library. Best. Library. Contract. Work. Ever.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:49 AM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Wondering what the limit is on standard Kodak developed still photo negatives 200-400 ISO!
posted by Tehseen at 10:03 AM on May 30


Sadly, that image is a mockup and the whole story is apocryphal.
damn, really was too good to be true :(
posted by Megami at 10:07 AM on May 30 [1 favorite]


PBS's "Chasing Shackleton was pretty amazing.
posted by persona au gratin at 10:33 AM on May 30 [2 favorites]


One of the best true stories ever. Seriously, if you haven't read it..... I mean.... I'll forgive you i guess.... but not really.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:36 AM on May 30


So I'm reading the Wikipedia article and haven't found out what happened to the dogs yet, but I did find out what happened to Mrs. Chippy.

I feel the need to rename my cats now... mrs something or other...hmm...


posted by sio42 at 10:37 AM on May 30


What's with all the Instagram filters and frames?
posted by hellphish at 10:39 AM on May 30


dnash, I've had the whisky (the recreation, not the original).

It's just ok, the case is kick ass but put your money on a Lagavulin 16 you'll be more satisfied.
posted by coust at 10:47 AM on May 30


Oh man, the dogs...

I'm not sure how I've avoided really knowing anything about Shackleton and all this old timey arctic exploration.

Lost City of Z is the polar opposite (ha, sort of. It's about the Amazon so it's deadly tropics, but I think more people die than in this story here). If these guys were alive today, they'd be on some reality survivor show "Ice and Fire: EXTREME EXPLORERS...who will make it?"
posted by sio42 at 10:54 AM on May 30


My favorite photo from this era of exploration is this image from Andrée's Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897. Long story short, some idiots gentlemen explorers decided it would be easy to fly a balloon over the Arctic. The balloon almost immediately failed, flying only half a day and then bumping over the ice for another two days. When the balloon finally crashed they were around 83°N and must have known their prospects were very grim. Nonetheless, the expedition photographer stopped and took the time to capture this image. A photograph of despair, recovered 33 years later.
posted by Nelson at 11:21 AM on May 30 [6 favorites]


This is right up my alley, but that mymodernment site is utterly unusable in my phone.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:54 AM on May 30


this image from Andrée's Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897

More photos here. The photographer Strindberg took over 200 photos with a 15 lb camera designed for aerial photography during the three months they spent on the pack ice, photos that a Norwegian expedition randomly stumbled upon a third of a century later.

And yeah, anyone who can read Swedish should get the illustrated edition of Bea Uusma's amazing and award-winning "The Expedition: My Love Story" from last year, where the author, an illustrator, becomes obsessed with the expedition and the people involved, and spends 15 years digging into every single aspect of it.

(this included her getting a medical degree so other scientists would take her seriously; she now works as a physician.)
posted by effbot at 1:09 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


About a month ago, I got to see a musical which premiered in Seattle called Ernest Shackleton Loves Me (seattle times review, performance and interview on seattle morning tv [starts at 2:30]). It was one of the best theater shows I've ever seen, and I hope the rumors are true that it's moving to New York, because it's fantastic, and if you get the chance, you should go.
posted by Errant at 1:40 PM on May 30


About the dogs, when they killed them, it wasn't so much to eat the dogs, as the men needed to eat the dog's food. I read a quote from one of the guys who had to kill the dogs, he said something along the lines of: "I can think of a great many people I rather would rather have killed than the dogs."
posted by marxchivist at 2:41 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


These are fascinating.

Does anyone know what the SHELL BENZINE is (on crate, left side, last photo)?
posted by SpecialSpaghettiBowl at 2:49 PM on May 30


They brought an experimental motor tractor; that's probably its fuel.
posted by Mars Saxman at 3:37 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


> My favorite photo from this era of exploration is this image from Andrée's Arctic Balloon Expedition of 1897

There is a truly heartbreaking piece in The New Yorker on this expedition. Unfortunately, it is behind a paywall. I haven't read it since it was published in 2010, but the closing of the piece still haunts me.
posted by toofuture at 3:59 PM on May 30


Does anyone know what the SHELL BENZINE is (on crate, left side, last photo)?

Benzine is petroleum product one step lighter than kerosene, which was apparently used as a fuel for early engines. The Australian expedition that immediately preceded Shackleton's adventures brought 4000 gallons of Shell benzine and 1300 gallons of Shell kerosene to use as fuel.

(Benzine is also Dutch for gasoline, but I don't think that's what's being referred to here.)
posted by effbot at 4:02 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


PBS's "Chasing Shackleton was pretty amazing.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:33 PM on May 30


i just started watching this and did you all know they had a freaking MOVIE CAMERA???

when the PBS video started showing footage of a boat getting crushed by ice, i had to google to find out if this was recreations or what. my timeline for electronics is a bit fuzzy, so i had not been expecting this at all.

sooooo freaking cool.
posted by sio42 at 5:00 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


> my timeline for electronics is a bit fuzzy, so i had not been expecting this at all.

Hurley was using Cinematograph, a handcranked film camera (which could also act as a projector), so no electricity at all.

Here is a photo of Hurley up in the rigging with the camera getting some shots of the ship breaking through ice.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:11 PM on May 30 [2 favorites]


so i didn't actually read the article i linked to earlier about mrs chippy.
i just went and back to look and thought that metafilter would share my amusement in knowing mrs chippy was actually a mr chippy.


Mrs. Chippy, a tiger-striped tabby, was taken on board the Endurance by Harry McNish, the carpenter nicknamed "Chippy" (as in chips of wood, chips or chippy being a standard British nickname for a carpenter or for a man named Carpenter[1]), as a ship's cat. One month after the ship set sail for Antarctica it was discovered that, despite her name, Mrs. Chippy was actually a male, but by that time the name had stuck. He was described as "full of character" by members of the expedition and impressed the crew by his ability to walk along the ship's inch-wide rails in even the roughest seas.

i find that really endearing for some reason. and i'm sure he ate less than the dogs, but probably wouldn't have survived as long as a dog. very sad.
posted by sio42 at 5:17 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Hurley also selected 120 glass-plate negatives to save, including both whole (6-3/4" x 8-1/2") and half (4-3/4" x 6-1/2") plates. In an act that must have deeply pained this consummate professional, he smashed the remainder - about 400 negatives - and left the shards on the ice.

i googled for why he did that and found this...

Update: Exhibition closed and my theory is wrong. As visitor pointed out (with Frank’s own words) plates were broken to remove temptation to return for them.

i can't even imagine.
posted by sio42 at 5:30 PM on May 30 [3 favorites]


Mrs. Chippy. The dogs.
.
Those were the few sentences of Endurance I had to skim past. I knew what was happening, but I couldn't look.
posted by Dashy at 6:00 PM on May 30 [1 favorite]


Fantastic find.

These guys were absolutely the most bad-ass crazy buggers that ever walked across an ice floe. I love reading about expeditions. So sad about the cat, dogs (and ponies!) that were dragged into their heroic lunacy.

I tip my ushanka to all polar explorers.

Nelson and effbot, the balloon story almost demands a FPP of its own.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:37 PM on May 30


Sure, an FPP of Andrée's own. Contains links to English language newspaper articles of the time, also some of the photos Effbot posted inlined in a single page.

The main message I got from reading the Andrée story is just how reckless and ill-prepared they were. For example, Andrée was lying to his own crew about his balloon's ability to hold hydrogen. By contrast Shackleton was a serious, well organized, thoughtful and careful expedition leader.
posted by Nelson at 7:21 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


My great-uncle was with the 1912-13 German Antarctic Expedition. He took a lot of photographs. They were in storage in a part of Germany overrun by the Russians in WW2 and are now, presumably, in some cold warehouse in Russia.

Which leads me to wonder what other curious objects are in cold warehouses in Russia.
posted by BWA at 8:20 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


what other curious objects are in cold warehouses in Russia?

You'll have to watch the Hellboy movies to find out.
posted by sneebler at 9:43 AM on May 31 [1 favorite]


PS. Just learned that an English-language edition of the book I mentioned will be out in October, as The Expedition: A Love Story. Recommended.
posted by effbot at 10:28 AM on May 31 [2 favorites]


« Older A bunch of otters jam on a Casio. An orangutan pla...  |  The Los Angeles Clippers will ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments