Herbert Ponting presented these photographs to King George V. Each photograph is expertly printed, mostly at the largest size possible. Some images were printed in tones of blue or green to recreate the colours of the ice. Colour was an important element of Ponting’s work, and both he and Scott remarked on the colours of the ice in Antarctica. They were particularly impressed by the ‘ice grotto’, which was the subject of what is now one of Ponting’s most iconic images. Other highlights include the magnificent The ramparts of Mount Erebus, which presents the vast scale of the icescape, and the ethereal The freezing of the sea. The images also record daily expedition life, including Scott’s last birthday dinner in 1911.
Ponting was not part of the group who made the final journey to the Pole. It had always been intended that he would return to Britain before the rest of the expedition. Like the rest of the world, he was unaware of the death of Scott and his Polar party until February 1913, almost a year after the tragedy.