In 1869 John Dunmore and George Critcherson accompanied the marine painter William Bradford (18231892) on an expedition to the Arctic. Using the photographs as reference, Bradford later painted scenes of the Arctic wilderness that won great acclaim in America and England.
Like the landscapes of the post-civil war geological-survey photographers, the Dunmore and Critcherson images are compelling in their description of human activity against the backdrop of an awesome and beautiful nature. The polar-bear kill in Hunting by Steam would also have piqued the Victorian passion for adventure.
Carrying unwieldy equipment (large 14 x 8 inch plates and a troublesome wet-plate process that required on-site preparation) and combating climactic problems (the strong reflecting light on ice and snow created difficulties in photgraphing), Dunmore and Critcherson still managed to expose nearly two hundred plates. In 1873 The Arctic Region, an album of 139 images, including both full-plate images and smaller illustrations, was published in London.
Merry A. Foresta American Photographs: The First Century (Washington, D.C.: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1996)