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Friday, 12 February 2010


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For that matter I wonder how many of the millions of "photographer's portfolios" are actually collections of other people's pictures, found here and there and merely collected?

I have no idea, but that occurence is far from rare. I know a couple of cases where people posted other people's 3D pictures and posted them as theirs. (Now, parse that! :))

There's been a case of a guy appropriating photos from a member of the DPR 4/3 forum and even commenting how hard it was to shoot them.

The other day, I found a nice video from the Okinawa aquarium on YouTube. It had the credit for the guy who shot the video. A couple of days later, there was another posting on YouTube with all the credits removed.

Never understood that behaviour.

Hello Mike,
These photos could be from the National Archive and seems to be floating around the web here and there.

Here's one site that is showing one of the same photograph:



You can post a question for the author's identity on warbirdinformationexchange.org. Somebody there will know.



Try posting your questions as a comment to one of the photos. Owners of Picasaweb albums are notified when comments are posted so you can use that as a way to contact Mark.

These Iwo Jima photographs seem to have Signal Corps (or equivalent numbers) on them, which means they probably originate from the Signal Corps and other military photographic documentation files that, I believe, are now in the College Park, Maryland branch of the National Archives. These files are extraordinarily rich and only somewhat known from iconic photographs. I used these collections twenty-five years ago in documenting a book on the liberation of Nazi concentration camps, "Inside the Vicious Heart"(Oxford 1985), and it is fair to say that researchers have only scratched the surface of what is there.

It looks like most of them are from the national archives and can be found on footnote: http://www.footnote.com/document/55665821/

This are indeed stunning photos.
Quite coincidentally I recently stumbled upon (thematically) similar photos shot by an unknown german soldier on the eastern front during WW2.
Text is in german.

"The mystery of the flying eye"

Mike - I got curious about the origins of some of these images too so I picked an image at random and googled the source number in the bottom righthand corner. I landed on #64898A.C. The search took me to an image in the National Archives apparently shown through one of its partners - footnote.com: http://www.footnote.com/document/55721680/

The image is attributed to U.S. Army Strategic Air Force Public Relations. It looks like at least a handful of images in the Picasa set came from this set.

Still - amazing pictures.

"Tom thinks they're all by the same photographer; I'm not so sure".


The captions to photographs 111 to 114 contain what appears to be the name of the photographer for each. If so, they were taken by four different photographers.

It seems that you were correct in suggesting that the photos were "just collected from various archives, united only by being from Iwo Jima".

I have a caption for the photo of the burning plane (from Associated Press - login account needed to view image, so I can't link):
"A B-29 burns furiously after an emergency landing of Iwo Jima, Japan on July 9, 1945, while returning from a raid on the Japanese Mainland. Army Air Forces caption says the plane was badly shot up on the raid but the fire resulted from damage to hydraulic system which caused a locked brake and a crash upon landing. Note men near nose battling the fire. (AP Photo)"
AP don't say who the photographer is, they do name Rosenthal, in the flag raising photo and others.

One of the other images is on the AP site -
http://picasaweb.google.com/7thfighter/IwoJima?authkey=Gv1sRgCIW06db_6oth#5299167423528811170 - as the caption:
"From the crest of Mount Suribachi, the stars and stripes wave in triumph after U.S Marines fought their way to its steep lava-encrusted slops wiping out the Japanese, contesting their climb from caves guard by Pillboxes on March 12, 1945. Below streaches the beach, called futasune, where Coast Guard manned and Navy LST's pour forth men and armements to carry the battle for Iwo to its northern edges.(AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard)"
(spelling mistakes are AP's)

I suspect that a lot of them will be military handout photos, from the US Coast Guard or Seventh Air Force, judging by the filenames of some of the other images.

Regards, Tim

Looks like a collection of photos from different photographers. Some of the photos have the names of the photographers listed and file numbers.

Also, some of the captions read like they were written at the time, so I would say they appeared in some publication.

At least one of the photos is incorrectly labeled. It is a photo of a man applying art (by the look of it) under the cockpit of a P-51 fighter, but the caption talks about a group looking on as art is applied to the nose of a B-29 bomber. Again, the caption appears to be something taken right out of a period publication.

Some seem to come from here:

Which claims to be "Air Force Photos at the National Archives"

The Mark may be Mark Stevens who runs the www.7thfighter.com website.

Hi Mike, As far as finding this mysterious Mark guy goes, I think I can help.

Looking at the photo album on Picasa I see that the poster uses the handle "7thfighter". Go to Google, and type: "inurl:7thfighter" (without the quotes) and hit return. As if by magic - and let's face it, the internet really is magic, even if it's not very subtle - we find the website http://www.7thfighter.com/, the "official web site of the 7th Fighter Command Association".

And ... holy sh!t, check out the email address at the bottom of the page: mark AT 7thfighter dot com. My bet is that fellow might know the provenance of the pics and is in fact the very same Mark we're looking for.

(insert joke about finding the mark here - or not. I won't be here all week.)

- Jason Scher

All I know is, it ain't art.

Wait, maybe it is.

I have seen at least three of these photos published before: the ditched B-29 in Shot to Hell: The Stories and Photos of Ravaged WWII Warbirds by Cory Graff, and the two shots covering the P-61 that landed on another in the fog, though I can't recall the source. A lot of books and magazines on WWII aviation have passed though my shelves, so please pardon the lapse of memory.

"For that matter I wonder how many of the millions of "photographer's portfolios" are actually collections of other people's pictures, found here and there and merely collected?"

Egad, realising, just now, from your comment, that that is possible truly shocks me. I guess I'm just a naive simpleton! Dear Lord, the depths of human depravity...

Military photos. The style and the numbers make them look like they were taken by the military.

Really need to see the back of the prints. That would tell all.

Hey even military photographers can take good photos.

PS: Many times during the Vietnam War I saw AP and UPI photo credits that I KNEW for a fact were taken by Marine Corp photographers.

Posted by John Krill: "Military photos. The style and the numbers make them look like they were taken by the military."

Absolutely, that would also be my bet, John. Just look at the heroic angles, the "casual" process "snaps". Many photographers, probably all military.

But they're terrific documentary of a very scary time. A time of "real" heroes and villains, of understandable conflict, of good and evil. Ah, those were the days.

Hello, I'm the guy that sent the link to Mike. I knew he'd be concerned about credit for them, but mostly I was stunned by how amazing the photos are. Most wartime photographers don't have enough time to set up a shot, mostly because bullets are flying. But many of these shots are from after the battle was fought, while the island was an air base for the 7th Fighter Squadron.

I wrote that I thought they were all one photographer, but I agree that they are obviously not. However, I think that many of the aviation themed ones are the work of Murray Befeler, who was the AP Photo Pool Coordinator on Iwo at the time, and the editor who selected Rosenthal's famous photo of the raising of the flag on Suribachi.

I'm glad that I found some folks with more knowledge and better detective skills than myself. I shared that link with probably several dozen people who share my interest in WW2 and old warbirds, and none of them had ever seen them before, either. Thanks, collected wisdom of TOP!

The flag with guy under it (http://picasaweb.google.com/7thfighter/IwoJima#5299167423528811170) appears three times in the tineye.com database, at http://hu.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=F%C3%A1jl:Stars_and_Stripes_on_Mount_Suribachi_%28Iwo_Jima%29.jpg&filetimestamp=20050513092337 and http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?72073-Post-Dramatic-Photos-here-%28some-content-NSFW%29/page30 and http://www.genealogue.com/2007/06/battle-of-iwo-to.html

Several of the photos include NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) file numbers. I agree that these are military photos and I am going to hazard a guess that they are in the public domain.

Re your comment about people just finding photos on the web then passing them off as their own, have a look at http://www.pbase.com/liquidstone/photo_theft_051507
[And the real photographer's work as shown on that pbase site is worthy of a Random Excellence award some time, IMHO]

All I understand is - its slaughter - and its murder.

As a side note, I would like to have a print of photo 30, the squadron above Iwo Jima, with the clouds in the background. There is something compelling in the photo...

As a historian, I'm troubled, too, by how much photographic work is likely to be lost. When my father died 25 yrs ago, I kept his 1500 rolls of negatives, but only scanned and put some on online last year (http://www.flickr.com/photos/hhjohnston). They've now been seen by far more people than during his lifetime, but even so, the flickr account will one day be unplugged, I guess. When I thought of how many free hours were spent collecting and printing those images, and how differently they can be appreciated now, I spent the time to find a couple of local archives to preserve them.

For those of us who aren't aware of our history, it's actually Rosenthal's famous photo of the RE-raising of the flag on Surabachi... it seems the original flag wasn't big enough to make the statement the brass wanted.

A selection of these are on the web site of the Experimental Aircraft Association, where all are attributed to the US Air Force, consistent with comments above about the National Archives.


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