Sense of Time, Sense of Place...How it was made:

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This Lincoln Memorial project is really the proof of concept for a contemporary way of revisiting the photographic ethos "sense of time, sense of place, hands off."  It is intended to show people interacting with objects or situations in an environment, but to back away from the detailed photographic rendering of the individual subjects.

Photography:  The images for this first project were shot with a Nikon D1X digital SLR camera and a Nikkor 12-24mm lens at 17mm.  Approximately 220 frames were exposed from two locations; one on the left side of the steps leading to the Lincoln Memorial and the other on the right side of the chamber just inside the colonnades (sitting on the floor).  The camera was mounted on a small Manfrotto table tripod with a Manfrotto 484RC2 compact ball head.  A Linhoff two-axis spirit level was used to confirm horizontal orientation.  Both sets were shot on the morning of 23 July 2006.  The shooting style is simple...Set the camera up and, using a remote cord, shoot when something seems interesting.  It helps to have a shooting position a little bit out of the way and then just kinda fade into the background.*

Audio:  Field recordings were made on 22 July 2006 (exterior) and 15 July 2006 (interior) at approximately the same positions that the photographs were taken from, and at the same time of the day.  The equipment, an Edirol R-09 digital recorder and Sony ECM-MS957 stereo microphone, is described in more detail on another of my websites (this link).  (It should be noted that the National Park Service does not usually allow audio recordings to be made in the Lincoln Memorial chamber.  Apparently it is O.K. to record from outside the colonnades, so that shouldn't present too much of a barrier.)

Post Production:  The 45 photographs, once selected, were initially processed using the public beta of Adobe Lightroom™ software -- which had just been released in the Windows version as I started planning the project.  Lightroom allows the photographer to perform some of the typical "digital darkroom" functions, and to see those changes in context with other related photographs -- exactly what is needed when dealing with a presentation such as this.  Additional sizing, sharpening, and the application of a black border was done in Photoshop® CS2.  Titles were produced in PowerPoint® and converted to TIFF or GIF files.

The audio files were edited with Sony's Soundforge® 8 software.  Minimal work was required -- mostly the volume was increased, a fade was added to the beginning and end of both files, and a graphic equalizer was used to reduce some of the bass boominess in the interior recording.

Two different methods were used to render the output:

  • Originally, the still photographs and audio files were combined using Sony's Vegas® Movie Studio™ software.  All stills and titles were brought in for 5 seconds with a 1 second cross fade at each end.  The WMV format was selected because it is the most compact.  However, some MAC users don't install WMV converters and couldn't view the product.  Conversion to a video format gives very nice transitions, but since the process renders all the video frames -- instead of just the individual images -- the files can be huge.
  • The second production was as a web slide show.  The software used was Photodex ProShow® Gold version 4.  This offers as much control over the production as a good video editor and can output to a variety of formats including video.  Timings, for the main image slides were set to 2 seconds, with a 2.5 second cross-fade.  The cross-fade may be just a bit more gradual than the vdeo produced three years ago but the main difference in the timings is that the Vegas and ProShow count differently.  The lengths of the two presentations are withing a few seconds of each other.

    As an example of file sizes, the ProShow file is about 5.5MB, the WMV video files is about 11MB, and an MPEG video file is about 105MB.  You can select a more compressed MPEG rendering, but the results can be grim.

* National Park Service policy about tripods is not always clear.  In all fairness, they have a tough job to perform.  On one hand, they have a mission to encourage the use and appreciation of the many types of assets they manage.  Photography, widely available in different media formats, supports that.  On the other hand, visitors don't want their experience at NPS-managed properties to be framed by a forest of aluminum and carbon-fiber tripod legs.  This is especially true in places like the Vietnam Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial -- sites that carry a lot of meaning for a lot of people, and where the visual simplicity of those memorials is part of the aesthetic.  That said, I have only found references online to tripod restrictions at the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials.  That didn't stop me from being told that I couldn't use a tripod at the Jefferson Memorial (marble floors).