MIGHTY NINETY


About the Photography on this Site


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2nd Division Sailors in an upper handling room of ASTORIA CL-90's aft main battery in July 1945.
-Rudolph Guttosch photo in NARA collection 80-G-336385



For any photo reproduction use:
Please provide a credit for the original photographer (where listed) and
www.mighty90.com. Most of these images qualify as Public Domain. However, they are only in the Public Domain in a remastered digital format as the result of donation from the photographers and family involved, as well as my efforts and personal expense with this project.
Thank you for your cooperation.
-Brent


A hidden world awaits... The camera equipment of the WWII era was capable of capturing amazing detail. Using light meters, large negative sizes, and good optics, the photographers of this period brought art to their craft.

Much of this art has been lost over the decades. Most photographs remain tucked away in private collections or public archives, rarely seeing the light of day. They fade, crack and deteriorate even as they lay dormant in storage.

Of the images that are published, most are reproduced in books and online as grainy copies of copies. Detail is lost, taking with it the grounding in reality that makes these images poignant reminders of a period when the world caught fire.

The mission of this website is to inform, but also to restore and preserve these images while making them accessible to a worldwide audience for the first time. This page illustrates the painstaking process involved in the restoration effort of applying technology to history.



The U.S. Navy Photographers

Hundreds of photographs and several reels of film exist that were shot aboard the Mighty Ninety. These are now primarily stored in private collections and in the records of the National Archives.
Many have never been publicly seen or reproduced.

A small group of U.S. Navy photographers are responsible for the vast majority of the still and moving images taken from the decks of USS ASTORIA:

 Herman C. Schnipper

 Rudolph J. Guttosch LT John Lisle Thomas G. Higgins
       
Herman Schnipper served as USS ASTORIA CL-90 Ship's Photographer from her commissioning through April 1946. His photography provides a remarkable view of the Mighty Ninety throughout her war cruise and first two years. His partnership has been instrumental in the development of this website.

Rudy Guttosch served aboard USS ASTORIA CL-90 in the final months of World War II. Guttosch was part of Combat Photographic Unit 6 (CPU-6), dispersed across the Fast Carrier Task Force to film and photograph the United States Navy in action. In the absence of combat, the team served public relations functions. Guttosch photographed ASTORIA Sailors and Marines for use in hometown newspapers to help boost stateside morale and finance the 7th war bond drive.

John Lisle served as 2nd Division Gunnery Officer aboard USS ASTORIA CL-90. In early 1945, he was also assigned as Photography Officer aboard ship. His images provide a candid insight of Naval Officers in the final months of the Pacific War, at sea in combat conditions and ashore for recreation.

Thomas Higgins was assigned to USS ASTORIA along with Rudy Guttosch as the film photographer of CPU #6. Although he shot reels of film aboard ship, this footage has yet to be located.

Walter J. Duggan (not pictured) was part of a seven-man Special Photography Unit deployed across Task Group 58.3 during Okinawa operations. His color film footage, reproduced from the National Archives and private collections, depicts events from the height of ASTORIA's combat experience.

Additional images of these events were taken by U.S. Navy photographers aboard other ships in the Fast Carrier Task Force. They will be named in photo credits wherever they are known.


The LIFE Magazine Photographers

Several significant LIFE Magazine photographic essays were shot from 1941-1945 that are of direct relevance to this project. The source images for these essays have been made available online for the first time by Getty Images and Google. Some of these images were published in period issues of LIFE, but many have never been publicly seen or reproduced.

Under the Getty Images terms of usage, remastered versions of these images appear on this website for individual non-commercial use. The LIFE photographers:


Bob Landry

W. Eugene Smith Carl Mydans



Private Collections

Many of the images included in this website come from WWII-era contact prints, original photographs reproduced from negatives including those of the photographers listed above. These photos are often found loose or in scrapbooks. They do not age well, as they fade, curl, and the emulsion cracks over time.



Many photographs of the WWII era were developed from large, high-grain film formats. They can contain a tremendous amount of detail in a small space. For example, note the three small contact prints taken from this 1946 album (next to a quarter for scale.) They were taken from a single vantage point aboard USS COLUMBUS CA-74 at Terminal Island Navy Yard in May 1946.
-
from Brent Jones collection


Using a professional scanner, I create an electronic copy of these images at the highest possible resolution. They are then remastered using Adobe PhotoShop Elements. This process involves several steps, including:

-leveling and cropping            -restoring true grayscale            -adjusting contrast
-reducing noise                       -removing blemishes                 -sharpening the final image




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The three photographs from the album above have been merged into a single, detailed image. This resulting "photograph" is an accurate composite of the originals. The result is a historically significant image of the captured German cruiser PRINZ EUGEN, used in the 1946 atomic tests at Bikini Atoll.
-from Brent Jones collection





Above: An original contact print of USS ENTERPRISE CV-6 fighting fires taken from ASTORIA.
Below: The image has been cropped and remastered, providing a much better idea of what Herman Schnipper saw through his viewfinder (click for larger size.)


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-photo taken by ASTORIA CL-90 Ship's Photographer Herman Schnipper


These are examples of how digital technology can be applied to historical source material. This technique is used throughout the Mighty Ninety website to create an immersive Pacific War experience that would otherwise not be possible. By pulling these photographs out of attics and closets, scanning and restoring them, we can provide a much richer insight into World War II history for generations to come.


National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in College Park, MD is a large repository for photographic still and moving images. This includes records groups 19-LCM and 80-G, WWII-era photographic records of the United States Navy. These records can be accessed and scanned free of charge, a process that requires patience and determination.



Using a laptop and portable professional scanner, I am digitally imaging U.S. Navy photographs during a trip to the NARA College Park facility in 2010. White gloves and patience are required.
-Brent Jones photo




Above: Even images in the National Archives collection can be severely damaged, such as this June 1944 photograph of ASTORIA CL-90. Source negatives can be accessed, but this requires a third-party company and can be prohibitively expensive.
Below: My digital restoration of the image (click for larger size.)


CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA Collection 80-G-364894. Brent Jones restoration.


If you have WWII photographic images or negatives that you wish to have restored or submitted for inclusion in this website, please contact me at brentj@mighty90.com.


Sources
Jones, Brent. Private photo and document collection.

National Archives and Records Administration.
http://www.archives.gov/research/.

Schnipper, Herman. Private photo and document collection.


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