Freezing Moments:  Antarctica Revisited
by Frans Lanting
Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition is regarded as one of the greatest exploration epics of all time–but the work of the expedition’s photographer, Frank Hurley, deserves a similar place in the annals of heroic photojournalism.  Hurley immortalized the journey with flawless photographs produced under brutal conditions.  When ice crushed their ship, Shackleton and his men offloaded supplies for a bitter trek across the frozen Weddell Sea.  Hurley had to leave most of his exposed glass plates behind.  He kept only a handful, along with a pocket camera and a few rolls of film to document the remainder of the expedition–a saga of hunger, frostbite, and near-disasters.  Despite his deprivations Hurley recorded a pivotal event:  With his entire crew stranded on a remote island with no hope of rescue, Shackleton and five men set off to find help on South Georgia–a journey against all odds across 800 miles of  treacherous seas.  As they pushed the sloop into the surf, Hurley captured the desperation of that moment–without the luxury of bracketing or rethinking. 
I located Hurley’s negatives and commissioned new prints of his classic images as part of a story about South Georgia.  My intent was to incorporate them into a contemporary scene as a tribute to Hurley.  While on assignment I made an unplanned landing on the very beach from which Hurley had recorded Shackleton’s daring departure.  I came ashore with passengers from a cruise ship, and just as they were struggling back to their zodiac, I found the spot where Hurley had stood.  A companion with tattered gloves held up the print, allowing an ultra-wide-angle lens with maximized depth of field to record a scene in which the straightforward black-and-white bravery of the past is contrasted with the multi-colored ambiguity of travel today–and only the landscape itself remains the same.   
Photo by @FransLanting