My best photograph

CrevasseSince I’ve been posting some photographs, I thought I would post what I regard as one of my best photographs. I have no idea if it is objectively a good photograph, but I really like it. It’s also one of the few photographs I’ve ever had published – in a magazine that went bust shortly afterwards. The photograph was taken in a crevasse in the Antarctic in late 1992, or early 1993 (I think), and the person in the photograph was one of our medics. Technically, we weren’t really meant to go down crevasses, but that didn’t really stop us and I don’t really remember being told explicitly that we shouldn’t. It’s also hard not to, when you have the chance to actually do so.

In_crevasseSometimes, the opportunity was also just too good to pass up. There was a lot material being transported to a new site, for building a new base. We’d hired some ex-Russian missile carriers to speed things up, as they were much faster than the vehicles we had. In this case, the South African co-driver and the Russian driver had, I believe, shared more of a bottle of vodka than was wise and had decided that a short-cut was in order. The photograph to the left shows what can happen when you go off route in the Antarctic. Since the crevasse was now open, we took the opportunity to explore – ostensibly to check what was underneath the vehicle, but really just to have a look around.

YellowHutFortunately, it was good weather and close to the site of the new base, so noone was hurt, and the recovery was fairly straightforward. Once it had been pulled out, one of our mechanics welded it all back together again. It also turned out that the hut that I was using for all of my experiments (and in which I used to sleep) was almost the same colour as the vehicle. So, we found some old paint, covered up all the welds, and everyone got back to work. On that note, I must go and make a curry for dinner.

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26 Responses to My best photograph

  1. Rachel M says:

    They are indeed very good photographs, the first one in particular. They’d look even better if they weren’t so small.

    Drink driving in Antarctica? I’m shocked. Absolutely shocked. 🙂

  2. Joshua says:

    ==>”– in a magazine that went bust shortly afterwards.”

    Coincidence? You make the call.

  3. I could make them bigger, but then it’s harder to tell the story 🙂

    I never did any drink driving myself, of course. However, the fastest way to get out of the old base to my little yellow hut, was up a roughly 20m ladder. One of the only times I didn’t sleep in my little yellow hut was after a fairly convivial party. After attempting the first few rungs of the ladder, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and slept downstairs.

  4. Rachel M says:

    One of the only times I didn’t sleep in my little yellow hut …

    I bet Andrew Dodds would have attempted it … to his detriment 🙂

  5. redbbs says:

    How was it lit?

  6. redbbs says:

    The crevasse photograph.

  7. Oh, that was just natural light. We weren’t very deep. Maybe only 10m down. I can’t quite remember.

  8. In fact, probably less than 10m.

  9. redbbs says:

    So the backlight is sunlight?

  10. So the backlight is sunlight?

    Yes.

  11. Actually if you click on the photo it opens up bigger and then if you click again it opens up even bigger again. When you do that you can see that the plane of focus is actually slightly behind the figure, so perhaps focussing more carefully (or not using autofocus) is a criticism I could make. But that would be just sour grapes: perhaps because I have never had the opportunity to visit Antarctica. 🙂

  12. redbbs says:

    Well then you would have had only about 60 – 90 seconds to achieve an exposure in this crevasse.

  13. john,
    I actually noticed that myself. In my defense, this was pre-auto-focus (or, maybe, I couldn’t afford auto-focus 🙂 ).

    redbbs,
    I’m not following you. Why 60-90 seconds?

  14. redbbs,
    Okay, maybe I see what you’re getting at. I don’t know if that patch was actually direct sunlight, or reflected sunlight. I just meant that there was no artificial illumination.

  15. Rachel M says:

    It could be a scene from the documentary Touching the Void. Have you seen that? Really great film and book. True story too.

  16. redbbs says:

    Didn’t the crevasse act as your aperture? Given the tiny sliver of direct sunlight in your exposure, it surely could not have fallen long on the bottom of a 10 meter crevasse.

  17. redbbs,
    I actually don’t know. This was 22 years ago.

  18. Rachel,
    I have seen touching the void, but I haven’t read the book. It is an amazing story.

  19. anoilman says:

    I find the best pictures are ones that have personal meaning. Its not the same value for others.

  20. BBD says:

    Meh, twisted with envy. Mind you, I did go to Prestatyn once, so you can f*** off 😉

  21. “Technically, we weren’t really meant to go down crevasses…” I’m not even comfortable looking at them (although it is a pretty cool photo)…pun intended

  22. Beautiful colour and tone aTTP! Had a couple of photos published in mags myself, which was very gratifying. But not as pleasing as getting one of your photos on the front of the Edinburgh 1:25000 OS maps 😀

  23. Here’s a link to Kit’s post where he discusses his winning photograph. Great shot.

  24. Much obliged! Although maybe of more interest, and of equal relevance to your story, is a map of breweries in Scotland 😉

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