From the Archive: "And you call yourself a photographer!"

Photographer David Neilson in action, Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. ©

Photographer David Neilson in action, Vestfold Hills, Antarctica. ©

The man that turned a lifelong obsession into one of the most amazing pictorial books about Antarctica, is the man in this photo - David Neilson of Snowgum Press.

I met David on my third voyage to Antarctica, on an Australian Antarctic Division sponsored project in the Framnes Mountains. David was on his second Art’s Fellowship with the Antarctic Division. He was down south to create photos for what would eventually be his book on Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands, Southern Light.

At the time - and this was way back in 2004 - I was busy telling everyone I was a photographer, though in reality I had little experience, no clients and could only just take a half decent photo.

Being ‘photographers’ we naturally gravitated to each other, though truth be told, I instinctively knew that David had serious photographic chops. Way beyond what I would ever have.

The evening of this photo, we both wandered out to some icebergs stuck in the fast ice off Davis Station. David set up his tripod (something I never used back then) and proceeded to put the oldest, most fiddly looking camera I had ever seen on top of it. After the long set up - did I mention loading the film? - David was finally ready to take a photograph.

But first he had to wait for the light, which took hours and answer dumb photographic questions from me.

Namely, what type of camera is that?

To which David calmly responded:

“It is a large format Horseman…and you call yourself a photographer!”