Fewer scale stick photos needed for Level I HABS/HAER

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Monks Burial Ground (room) at the Mission San Antonio De Valero (the Alamo), with scale stick

While finishing up my documentation of the Alamo for the Historic American Buildings Survey, I had the chance to correspond with Mary McPartland, PhD, the Collections Manager of the Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service.  She is the person who will be receiving my photographs at the Library of Congress after they are approved by the State of Texas.

Ms. McPartland advised me that the National Park Service no longer expects duplicate negatives, with and without scale devices, for every view in Level I projects for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and for the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER).  She reported that “We [the National Park Service] don’t really differentiate the photographic requirements for Level I, II and III projects.” In the past, the main difference between Level I and Level II projects was that Level II projects only needed duplicate negatives for the main view.  She continued, “[We] encourage photographing key views (or views in which it might otherwise be difficult to determine scale) with a scale stick.  That’s up to your discretion as photographer.  Pages 2-5 of our Photography Guidelines include a list of suggested views for different resource types.”

I think this is a sensible change, and it will reduce the amount of film I will need to load and process to document a building to Level I standards.  When photographing buildings in remote locations, needing to shoot less film can be a big help.  While I am flattered that more discretion is given to the photographer to choose which views need duplicate negatives, it also creates a bit more uncertainty with the budget, especially when the architects and I have not seen the building, and do not know how many views with scale devices will be needed.

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