Back in 1975 before the advent of serious ecotourism the continent of Antarctica was just opening up to people other than professional explorers. One of the great nature photographers of the day was Eliot Porter (1901-1990). He has been credited with bringing color to landscape photography. I have several of his books in my library, none more cherished than his photoessay on Antarctica. There are many truly beautiful landscapes in this work that attest to the raw, perhaps cruel, beauty of that place at the bottom of the world.
But the picture from that collection that stands out after nearly four decades most clearly in my mind, as if I was experiencing it for the first time today, is today’s Favorite Photograph 2013: “Dog Skeleton, Robert Scott’s Hut, Cape Evans, Ross Island, Antarctica, December 1975.” What this picture shows is perhaps a bit gruesome. Still it continues to give me goose bumps. It shows the mummified remains of one of the sled dogs from Robert Falcon Scott‘s (1868-1912) ill fated attempt to reach the South Pole.
I show this image because it is significant. Would you call it beautiful? Probably not. It illustrates just how multifaceted the role of photography can be in defining our lives. This image permanently records a fragile relic. Alond with that relic it brings palpability to an event that occurred now a century ago.