Field Notes

The Stack at Point Wild

Technical Details: Film Velvia; Nikon 20mm F8 Nikon F80 1/125
Location: Point Wild, Elephant Island, The Southern Ocean 61:06S 54:52W

The southern ocean was still heaving as Elephant island’s peaks broke the horizon as the M/V Explorer made for the first Antarctic landfall since leaving Cape Horn. Elephant Island steeped with the romance of polar expedition history and the savor of Shackleton’s crew was upon us. As we approached the island my spirits sank; this was my second visit to the legendary and desperate rocky outcrop known as Point Wild and I was desperate to land and stand in the footsteps of Frank Hurly; Shackleton’s amazing expedition photographer. My spirits sank for it was obvious with the wind and sea state that there would be no attempt at landing. At best we might get to launch the zodiacs.

An hour later my fears were confirmed, I was to be denied again. In the Zodiac I was determined to emulate Frank Hurly and get my picture of this wild and inhospitable place. As we rounded the rock stack, the skies opened and deep rich blues formed the backdrop for the clearing clouds. Perfect for high contrast black and white sepia toned images, that are reminiscent of the era of heroic exploration. Hanging over the front of the zodiac begging for an ice bath I waited until a wave crest of sea spray balanced the stack and the sky. “Find a way or make a way” Hurley’s family motto rang through my head; one roll of film later and with much merriment about my antics by the zodiac crew I hoped I had found my way and captured the kind of image I had hoped too. Three weeks later in the warmth of my Vancouver home I had my answer.