Platypus group (Ornithorhynchus anatinus).

    Courtesy Australian Museum

    Photo Credit: Henry Barnes

    This species is now known as the common wombat (Vombatus ursinus). Perhaps this is one of the photos sent by Krefft to the Zoological Society in London in 1872: ‘Dear Dr. Sclater, – I have had a series of photographs made of the different wombats: and as it appears there is still some doubt about certain species, I now enclose copies of them’.

    Courtesy Australian Museum

    Photo Credit: Henry Barnes

    West Coast banded snake (Simoselaps littoralis) and Strange’s Trigonia (Neotrigonia strangei). Odd combinations of animals like this were probably photographed together to demonstrate scale and size.

    Courtesy Australian Museum

    Photo Credit: Henry Barnes

    The long exposures needed for photographs meant that mistakes sometimes happened. The sheet behind the dolphin has moved with the breeze and you can just see the boots of two ghostly humans at each end of the table.

    Courtesy Australian Museum

    Photo Credit: Henry Barnes

    Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae).

    Courtesy Australian Museum

    Photo Credit: Henry Barnes

    Lettuce coral (Pectinia lactuca).

    Courtesy Australian Museum

    Photo Credit: Henry Barnes

In pictures: early scientific photography at the Australian Museum

By Australian Geographic | January 22, 2019

These images are incredible.

A NEW exhibition at the Australian Museum explores the archival collection of glass plate negatives of scientific discoveries made by scientists between the 1850s and 1890s. Capturing Nature will showcase the work of Australian Museum curator Gerard Kreft and taxidermist Henry Barnes, including photographs of emus, dolphins and even a gigantic sunfish.

Capturing Nature. Early photography at the Australian Museum 1857 – 1893 starts on the 16 February – 21 July 2019 and is free to enter after purchasing general admission.

The book Capturing Nature: Early scientific photography at the Australian Museum 1857-1893 by Vanessa Finney (NewSouth, $49.99) is available now.