Ice images

In their own words

A supply of heavy cameras for base-station work and light cameras for sledging was purchased; our stock being amplified by many private cameras, especially those belonging to FH Hurley, photographer of the Expedition. Special Lumiere plates and material for colour photography were not omitted, and, during the final cruise of the 'Aurora', PE Correll employed the more recent Paget process for colour photography with good results.

— Mawson, Home of the Blizzard

Mawson knew that good publicity for the AAE on its return would be a key to its overall success. For this he needed high-quality photographic images (and a good photographer). He would also need moving film, which he believed would be in high demand back in Australia — another potential source of funds.

His list of high-technology equipment, mainly for the use of his specialist photographer Frank Hurley, included more than 10 still cameras and one cine camera. The vast majority of the photographs were taken on glass-plate negatives — in 1911 this was still the most reliable form of recording images.

Hurley had obtained, and used the same half-plate camera Professor David had used on the BAE, and stereographs were taken by Frank Hurley around the main AAE base at Commonwealth Bay and by Andrew Watson at the Western Base.

Hurley also had 7000 feet (2450 metres) of 35 mm roll-film to use in the Kinematograph. He had previously never engaged in cinematography, but on being engaged by Mawson he promptly threw himself into training in this very different photographic craft.

Like Mawson, Hurley was a great innovator. On Aurora’s final AAE voyage in 1913 he worked with his Cape Denison colleague Percy Correll, who took on the task of obtaining colour images using the cutting-edge Paget plate system, invented earlier that year, which obtained a colour effect by using a screen of coloured lines.