The expedition in colour

archive photo of a man with a camera and tripod onthe ice by a ship

Frank Hurley photographing under the bows of the Endurance © Royal Geographical Society

Photographer Frank Hurley's record of the Endurance expedition includes 32 surviving colour transparencies. The majority were taken on South Georgia island, most probably a return trip that Hurley made in 1917 specifically to recapture images he had lost on the ice. However 17 images were unmistakably taken in the course of the expedition itself.

These rare true colour - as opposed to tinted - images are examples of the Paget colour process, which involved exposing a negative plate through a colour screen plate that was scored with a pattern of dots or lines. A transparency positive, made from contact printing with the negative, was then bound together with a colour viewing screen matched to the screen of the original exposure. More robust than the Autochrome process, Paget colour was introduced commercially in April 1913. Hurley was justly proud of colour photography, regarding it as being "amongst the most valuable records of the expedition".

Hurley set up a number of self portraits and then had Perce Blackborow, the young stowaway, take the shot. In the picture above he is seen with his heavy square-bellows stand-plate camera.