Antarctic expedition finds vintage camera parts

CAPE DENISON, Antarctica (Reuters Life!) - An Antarctic expedition has found what they believe to be camera parts abandoned by a renowned Australian photographer during a historic trip to the frozen continent nearly a century ago.

Dr.Tony Stewart, leader of an Antarctic expedition dedicated to restoring polar explorer Douglas Mawson's original wooden huts at Cape Denison, inspects tubular steel pieces found on rocks at Boat Harbour in east Antarctica, January 1, 2010. REUTERS/Pauline Askin

James “Frank” Hurley, who died in 1962, was the official photographer of the 1911-14 Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) led by the country’s most famous polar explorer Sir Douglas Mawson. He was also the official photographer of the Australian armed forces during both World Wars.

Members of the current expedition, which is dedicated to restoring Mawson’s original wooden huts at Cape Denison, said they had retrieved a plate-changing box from a Newman and Guardia camera dating back to between the late 19th to early 20th centuries, inside Hurley’s dark room.

“We’re not 100 percent sure if it’s a component of Hurley’s camera’s yet, as we are waiting on verification, however it’s definitely a component of a very old camera used here in Antarctica which in itself makes it an interesting find,” expedition member and archaeologist Jody Steele told Reuters.

Several Newman and Guardia cameras were part of the equipment used by the AAE. Details of the recent find have been sent back to Australia for more investigation.

“This is a significant discovery because it may be one of the few camera parts that we can identify with an individual member of the AAE, Frank Hurley,” expedition member Peter Morse said.

“Other artifacts are more general by nature where as this is specific with a member of the expedition.”

The find has been returned to its dark room, where the cold environment has helped to preserve it so far.

On New Year’s Day, the expedition found what it believes to be the remains of the first airplane brought to Antarctica on an icy shore near where it was abandoned almost a century ago by Mawson after it proved to be a failure during his expedition.

Australia had searched for many years for the old single-propeller Vickers plane at Cape Denison, and expedition members stumbled on pieces of rusted metal tubing on the shore of Commonwealth Bay during very low tide which match structural iron tubing from the single-winged plane’s fuselage.

Editing by Miral Fahmy