First Mount Everest Ascent â

Kodak is getting nostalgic and has sponsored an exhibition of photographs from Sir Edmond Hillary’s first Everest ascent.
Press Release

First climb to Mount Everest by Hillary captured with Kodak

Official expedition photographer overwhelmed by Kodak quality

Australia photographic exhibition printed entirely on Kodak Endura paper

Kodak Australasia is pleased to announce a partnership with LabX to
launch professional photographer – Alfred Gregory’s – photographic
retrospective exhibition in St. Kilda, Victoria from 14 July to 14
August, 2005. The official photographer on Hillary’s inaugural Everest
climb, the exhibition will feature breath-taking images of the first
ever expedition to the highest mountain in the world – Mount Everest.
Captured using a Kodak Retina II and printed on Kodak Endura paper.

Alfred Gregory was the official stills photographer during the first
successful ascent of Everest in 1953, and recalls the history making
moment as a “complete coup for Kodak, completely, utterly, for both
cameras and film.”

One piece of equipment that Gregory armed himself with was a Kodak
Retina II with its 50mm f2 Xenon lens. The Retina II had a lightweight
body and easy loading mechanism for 35mm film. It was Gregory’s first
choice to carry above the South Col to capture the now iconic pictures
of Hillary and Tenzing approaching the highest camp at 8,500 metres.

“Hillary had been using a Kodak Retina II for years in New Zealand –
…he goes to the top with a Kodak camera and Kodachrome film, nothing
else. Even the cine film of Everest by Tom Stobart was shot on
Kodachrome,” Gregory recounts.

These famous historical moments were captured through the lens of a
Kodak camera, as Gregory and his fellow adventurers wanted to ensure
every picture was perfect and of the highest quality.

“When we went to the South Col and then up on the assault on the summit
we decided we would take Kodachrome only, no black and white film,
because we could make black and white pictures from Kodachrome. My
greatest worry on Everest concerned exposures as everything was
performed manually in those days. I felt everything would be alright
but there remained a tiny niggle of doubt. The climb was over and we
were back down at Base Camp before I knew anything about pictures taken
above the snow line. The first telegrams of congratulations on the
success of the climb were being received and the one I liked best was

Returning to Britain, Gregory began a life-long working relationship
with Kodak which has continued to this day. He recalls how all members
gave lectures on the climb and the first one was given by John Hunt,
the leader, Ed Hillary and Gregory in the Festival Hall, London.
Gregory was in charge of the projection arrangements. It was believed
impossible to project 35mm slide film across a vast hall so Kodak
specially made 31/2″ x 31/2″ slides from the chosen 35mm

“Although these were of high quality, the light output from the
projector was so dismal. I hastily telephoned Kodak who then offered
another projector – a Kodak Master. The lecture was a tremendous
success using the original 35mm Kodachromes. This was another first
because slides of this size had never before been used for such a big
show in Britain,” Gregory recalls.

For 20 years after the ascent, Gregory worked freelance for Kodak
presenting up to 40 illustrated lectures to mass audiences each winter.
Now, over 50 years after Mount Everest was first climbed, his historic
images are newly printed on Kodak’s Endura paper – a paper boasting
extraordinary archival qualities (200 years). The paper presents a
range of flesh-tones and a metallic quality which communicates the
luminance and reflectivity of snow like no other.

“I know the pictures off by heart. Now looking at them they bring back
memories. And the excellence of the Kodak Endura paper is sensational.
It is exciting for me to have an exhibition after so many years and to
see film that was shot such a long time ago, so beautifully reproduced
on top quality paper,” said Gregory.

Exhibition Details:


Sponsored by Kodak Australia in conjunction with LAB X

LAB X Gallery

40 Pakington Street

St. Kilda, Victoria

From Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, August 14, 2005


Monday – Friday 7.30am – 9.00pm & Sunday 1.00pm – 7.00pm

Free admission to the public


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