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Fairchild Aerial Surveys:

for the California Map Society, January 2014

Jon Jablonski

on 23 March 2015

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Transcript of Fairchild Aerial Surveys:

A philanthropist and jazz fan
Cameras and accessories
Not much written about Sherman Fairchild.
Son of a congressman and founding board member of IBM
An aviation pioneer and serial entrepreneur
Applied mass-production techniques to aircraft and cameras
quite possible a chain smoker.
Mr. Martindale worked for his father-in-law, but Elizabeth might not be any relation to Sherman
And a lifelong camera enthusiast
Lehigh University
image: Warren Air Video & Photography, 2012
Earliest work
London, 1954
Photographica Collection Dirk HR Spennemann
Earliest scanned image at UCSB: July, 1927. Somewhere in Kern County near Bakersfield
Our earliest image is from flight C-17, January
image: C-63_G20
Straight from the scanner
grayscale scan(our standard)
color (for comparison)
C-209. April 15, 1928
C-300 c.1928-9
several images from flight C-209 mosaiced together
Sharpened, leveled, and lined up
Scientific surveying
Fairchild technologies ended ground surveying for topographic maps
Output formats
A variety of photographic derivatives were created by Fairchild
from: "For Photography from the Air" Fairchild Aerial Camera Corporation. c.1930s. UCSB Special Collections
Photo map atlases
Mosaic Indexes
Photo semi-map: seamless mosaics with graticules
C-7100. May 5, 1941
Yangze River, 3 Gorges area. 1946. MIL Fairchild Collection. UCSB Library.
Salt River, Arizona? (1934)
Seamless mosaics
4 seamless mosaics combined into 1.

Sacramento River, March 29, 1929. C-201
An order for 21 cameras and 18 extra lens cones for "a foreign government"

By the early 1930s, Fairchild cameras had been tested at extreme temperatures and altitudes. A 4-lens mapping camera sold for $12,000 ($206,000 today). At the end of WWII, Fairchild had outstanding orders $20 million worth of cameras (perhaps 1/2 billion 2014 $).
Mapping cameras were becoming more viable,
but were they as good as theodolites and rods?
Boulder Dam, Ansel Adams.
National Archives & Records Administration
Boulder Dam under construction, Jan. 12 1932.

PLog: photo blogs from the Denver Post
October 11, 2011
Triangulation of Meriwhitica Canyon, Colorado River Survey, 1935
Huntington Library, Otis Marston Colorado River Collection
1931 image of dam site
PLog: photo blogs from the Denver Post
October 11, 2011
We believe Fairchild flies pre- and post- dam surveys, comparing its topography to the topo line created by the rising reservoir.
February, 1935
'Quad composite' photos: an unidentified instrument
Lake Mead, just above the dam
A composite print and a stereoplanigraph layout sheet
Digital Globe, 2012
detail of C-3400_4505
Then and now
Fairchild Aerial Surveys:
Sherman Fairchild's legacy in black and white.

Preservation efforts at UCSB
for the California Map Society
January 18, 2014

Thanks to
my staff in the Map & Imagery Lab for their hard work moving and organizing the collection, and their patience as I've been distracted with this presentation
Digital Production Services for their scanning and photography efforts
Dave Seubert and Special Research Collections staff for acquiring, cataloging, and providing access to Fairchild Aerial Surveys ephemera
Denise Stephens, for her support in acquiring the Whittier College Fairchild collection
Mosaic construction in the studio at FAS's California office. A partially created mosaic on the table, an index ready at the copy camera on the left.
Multi-lens cameras
This 4-lens camera takes 3 oblique images plus one 'rudder' vertical image that steers the line
The three or four oblique images can be printed with an amount of distortion equal to the angle of the lens to the ground, creating a 'rectified oblique' projected into a planimetric view. The advantage is that oblique images capture much more ground per square inch of film, allowing maps to be created with less flight time and less film--but more complicated printing. The 'rectifying printer' is included with the camera.
Contact print of 1 exposure using a
5-lens system
Rectified print of same imagery
The 9x9 print at the center
shows the huge area of the
rectified images.
Gunner cameras
A trigger pull on the CG16 'fires' a burst of exposures on a roll of 16mm film, starting with a photograph of a watch and data card built into the camera.
Data recorders
Watches, frame counters, compasses, levels, and altimeters were all built into cameras in various combinations
They even made darkroom equipment
Nitrate film melts, become sticky before sloughing off of it's base. Acetate film develops a strong vinegar odor before becoming brittle and cracking.
Plain and re-touched film of the same type
Stored in highly acidic envelopes
Non-archival tape bled onto the envelopes
Photo-opaque was cracked and brittle
Scanning impractical (and we have prints)
Mosaic negatives not feasible to salvage
Images are semi-legible, but hardly worth the effort
Distinguishing between film types is easy with practice
Similar vintage film was obviously stored under very different conditions
UCLA Film & TV Archive to the Rescue!
and we do some basic things like making sure that 40 pound camera doesn't bounce off the shelf in an earthquake.
Darwin Chambers too!
There's a long way to go!
At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Simi Valley
Full transcript