Ponting: The Great White South
The British Antarctic (“Terra Nova”) Expedition remains imprinted in public consciousness as the venture in which Scott was beaten to the South Pole by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, only to perish on the return journey along with four of his men. Focusing solely on the tragedy, however, is to overlook the great accomplishments of Scott’s expedition. These include the first winter sledging journey in Antarctica, the collection of unprecedented quantities of scientific samples and data and the surveying of previously unknown coastal and interior regions of the continent. Not least was the extraordinary visual record compiled by the official expedition photographer, or “Camera Artist”, Herbert Ponting.
Ponting was the very first professional still and movie photographer to go to a polar region and, almost certainly, the first movie cameraman to use his camera for naturalist studies. His extraordinary technical and compositional talents rise to the heights of true photographic greatness and he is justly regarded as one of the most important British photographers in the history of the medium.