Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting (1870-1935) was renowned for his meticulous and adventurous approach to photography. His most famous work was taken during The British Antarctic Expedition 1910-1913, when he became the first professional photographer to capture the Antarctic.

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Works

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Herbert Ponting, The Terra Nova and a Berg at Ice-Foot, 16 January 1911

The Terra Nova and a Berg at Ice-Foot, 16 January 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The Terra Nova Held up in the Pack, 13 December, 1910 (I)

The Terra Nova Held up in the Pack, 13 December, 1910 (I)

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Dog Team Resting by the Barne Glacier, 1911

Dog Team Resting by the Barne Glacier, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, An Emperor Penguin

An Emperor Penguin

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Adelie Penguin Tracks and Sledge Track Crossing, 8 December 1911

Adelie Penguin Tracks and Sledge Track Crossing, 8 December 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Heinz Advertisement, 9 January 1912

Heinz Advertisement, 9 January 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Captain Oates and Some of the Ponies, December 1911

Captain Oates and Some of the Ponies, December 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Chris and the Gramophone, 1911

Chris and the Gramophone, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Penguins and a Berg at Cape Royds, 13 February 1911

Penguins and a Berg at Cape Royds, 13 February 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Erebus and Dome Cloud from West Beach, Two Thirty PM, Icicled Foreground, March 7 1911

Erebus and Dome Cloud from West Beach, Two Thirty PM, Icicled Foreground, March 7 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Pressure Ridges of the Ice Crack from the Barne Glacier to Inaccessible, Captain Robert Falcon Scott Looking to Cape Royds, 8 October 1911

Pressure Ridges of the Ice Crack from the Barne Glacier to Inaccessible, Captain Robert Falcon Scott Looking to Cape Royds, 8 October 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The Matterhorn Berg Profile with Erebus, 8 October 1911

The Matterhorn Berg Profile with Erebus, 8 October 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The Castle Berg with Dog Sledge, 17 September 1911

The Castle Berg with Dog Sledge, 17 September 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Beautiful Broken Ice, Reflections and the Terra Nova, 7 January 1911

Beautiful Broken Ice, Reflections and the Terra Nova, 7 January 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Passing a Large Tabular Berg

Passing a Large Tabular Berg

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Patrick Keohane on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Patrick Keohane on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Charles S Wright on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Charles S Wright on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Apsley Cherry-Garrard on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Apsley Cherry-Garrard on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Cecil H Meares on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Cecil H Meares on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Dimitri Geroff on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Dimitri Geroff on Return from the Barrier, 29 January 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Bernard Day on his Return from the Barrier, 21 December 1911

Bernard Day on his Return from the Barrier, 21 December 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Captain Scott and the Group Taken on Return of the Southern Party, 13 April 1911

Captain Scott and the Group Taken on Return of the Southern Party, 13 April 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Wave Breaking at West Beach, 28 February 1911

Wave Breaking at West Beach, 28 February 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Captain Robert Falcon Scott in his Den, 7 October 1911

Captain Robert Falcon Scott in his Den, 7 October 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Emperor Penguin’s Eggs

Emperor Penguin’s Eggs

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Sledging Rations for 1 Man for 1 Day

Sledging Rations for 1 Man for 1 Day

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Ski Adaptation for Finnesko

Ski Adaptation for Finnesko

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, At the Pumps in a Gale in Antarctic Ocean, March 1912

At the Pumps in a Gale in Antarctic Ocean, March 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The Waning Daylight Sun over the Barne Glacier, Midday, 26 March 1911

The Waning Daylight Sun over the Barne Glacier, Midday, 26 March 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The End of the Barne Glacier, 1911

The End of the Barne Glacier, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, F Debenham Making a Plane Table Survey, 9 September 1911

F Debenham Making a Plane Table Survey, 9 September 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Gran, Taylor and Wright in the Ice Pack from the Maintop of the Terra Nova, 22 December 1910

Gran, Taylor and Wright in the Ice Pack from the Maintop of the Terra Nova, 22 December 1910

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Tenements Bunks in the Hut, Lieutenant Bowers, Apsley Cherry Garrard, Captain Lawrence Oates, Cecil Meares and Dr Edward Atkinson, 9 October 1911

Tenements Bunks in the Hut, Lieutenant Bowers, Apsley Cherry Garrard, Captain Lawrence Oates, Cecil Meares and Dr Edward Atkinson, 9 October 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Bernard Day, Cape Evans, Antarctica, 1 August, 1911

Bernard Day, Cape Evans, Antarctica, 1 August, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Face of the Great Ice Barrier and Mount Terror, 1911

Face of the Great Ice Barrier and Mount Terror, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Birth of an Iceberg, 1911

Birth of an Iceberg, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Unloading Coal from a Sled at Winter Quarters, Cape Evans, 1911

Unloading Coal from a Sled at Winter Quarters, Cape Evans, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Packing the Sledges beside the Terra Nova, Cape Evans, January 1911

Packing the Sledges beside the Terra Nova, Cape Evans, January 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Lieutenant Gran Skiing

Lieutenant Gran Skiing

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Repairing a Sledge, Petty Officers Evans, Crean and Forde, Cape Evans, 1911

Repairing a Sledge, Petty Officers Evans, Crean and Forde, Cape Evans, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Western Party Crossing the Ice to Ship, March 1912

Western Party Crossing the Ice to Ship, March 1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Captain Oates and Rows of Siberian Ponies in the Terra Nova, 1911

Captain Oates and Rows of Siberian Ponies in the Terra Nova, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Glacier, Antarctica, 1911-1912

Glacier, Antarctica, 1911-1912

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Herbert Ponting with his Cinematograph, 1911

Herbert Ponting with his Cinematograph, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The Hut at Cape Evans, 26 March, 1911

The Hut at Cape Evans, 26 March, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Weddell Seal about to Dive, Cape Evans, 1911

Weddell Seal about to Dive, Cape Evans, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, A Weathered Iceberg, 29 December, 1911

A Weathered Iceberg, 29 December, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Mount Erebus, 1911

Mount Erebus, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Thomas Clissold and the Huge Ice Bastions of the Castle Berg, September 17 1911

Thomas Clissold and the Huge Ice Bastions of the Castle Berg, September 17 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Grotto in Berg, Terra Nova in the Distance, 5th January 1911

Grotto in Berg, Terra Nova in the Distance, 5th January 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Ponting Developing a Plate in the Hut, Cape Evans, 1911

Ponting Developing a Plate in the Hut, Cape Evans, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, View of the Deck on the Terra Nova with Dogs, from Engine Room Hatch, 3 January 1911

View of the Deck on the Terra Nova with Dogs, from Engine Room Hatch, 3 January 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, The Midnight Sun, McMurdo Sound, 1911

The Midnight Sun, McMurdo Sound, 1911

Herbert Ponting

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Herbert Ponting, Cirrus Clouds over the Barne Glacier, 19 December, 1911

Cirrus Clouds over the Barne Glacier, 19 December, 1911

Herbert Ponting

Early Years

Herbert Ponting was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire on 21 March 1870. He was the son of Francis W Ponting, a successful banker, a career that his father hoped his son would follow. On leaving school, he took a job at a bank in Liverpool. However, in 1892, he gave up his position and travelled to the West Coast of America. It was here that he met his future wife, Mary Biddle Eliot, whom he married in 1895. With the help of his family’s money, Ponting bought a farm in California, which subsequently failed and they returned to England six years later.

Travel Photography and Antarctica

After only a short period of time, however, Ponting chose to return to the United States, at which point he grew interested in photography and chose to make a career from it. An acquaintance commenting on one of his stereoscopic photographs suggested to Ponting that he approach publishing companies and enter his work into photographic competitions. In 1901, he travelled to the Far East to photograph the people, landscapes, and wildlife of various countries including Burma and Japan. The results were published in several magazines, including Harpers Bazaar, and The Illustrated London News. Ponting’s first book: In Lotus Land, Japan was published in 1910, by which time he had an established reputation as a successful photographer.

In 1910, Ponting set sail with the rest of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British Antarctic Expedition as the official photographer, personally chosen by Scott. His established reputation and his connection with Cecil Meares, who was in charge of the dogs for the expedition, both helped Ponting acquire the post. The Geographical Journal wrote at the time, The British Antarctic Expedition should be very well served by the camera in Mr Ponting’s hands.’ He remained in Antarctica for just over a year, during which time the other members of the expedition witnessed his great enthusiasm for representing nature. Diaries from the expedition document that Ponting went to great lengths to take the best photograph, on one occasion narrowly missing an attack from Killer Whales. He insisted on using the traditional glass-plate technique for developing his photos, his cumbersome cinematography and large amount of developing equipment added to the difficulty of his task. Ponting was well liked by his colleagues; however, at times, he preferred to maintain a distance, focusing on his photographs with painstaking detail.

Great White Silence

On his return to England in February 1912, Ponting was disappointed by the lack of response to his photographs and films. Hearing of the subsequent deaths of Scott and the four other men who reached the pole, he set out to promote the legacy of the expedition, rather than focusing on new projects. He held several lectures, and produced the film, Great White Silence, which received great acclaim.

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