59. Untitled [Mars-la-Tour], August 1918

Gelatin silver print
Gift of William Kistler, 1977.735

Growing awareness of aerial photography led to an increase in militaries using camouflage techniques and related tactics to conceal and divert attention away from their various activities. Steichen commented that “recent camouflage development has been a constant race to keep up with the work of the photographic observers, the visual observers having been left far in the rear.”[1] To combat this deception, photographers used panchromatic film (which is sensitive to all wavelengths of visible light) and filters and photographed at varying heights, angles, and lighting conditions. Stereoscopy was also a highly coveted tool, as it provided a three-dimensional view of the terrain.

Printed recto, along bottom [perpendicular to page] edge, in black ink: “ENEMY AIRDROME AT MARS-LA-TOURS / TOP PICTURE SHOWS LARGE HANGARS INTACT AND CRUDE FAKE PLANES / EASILY DISTINGUISHED BY WHITE COLOR AND ABSENCE OF TAILS — / LOWER PICTURE WAS TAKEN AFTER BOMB RAID AND SHOWS – / LARGE HANGARS COMPLETELY DESTROYED—————“; printed recto, on album page, lower right, in black ink: “Photographic Section. / Air Service. American Expeditionary Forces.”; inscribed recto, on album page, lower right, in blue ink: “59”; unmarked verso

[1] Edward Steichen, “History of the Headquarters Office, Photographic Section, Air Service, U.S.A.,” in Gorrell’s History of the American Expeditionary Forces Air Service, 1917–1919, series G, vol. 1, compiled by Colonel Edgar S. Gorrell (War Department, American Expeditionary Forces, 1918–19, reprinted by National Archives and Record Service, 1974), p. 7.