JF Ptak Science Books Post 1185
I've long enjoyed these massively organized, captured moments of time and effort--large caliber photos of concentrated efforts of tens of thousands of people, all of their motion and utility directed to produce this one moment in time. Perhaps the greatest practioner of this artform was Arthur S. Mole (1889-1983), the stationary Busby Berkeley of Big Organized Crowd Efforts (BOCE). (He led an interesting life, coming from Scotland with his family to be part of a Utopian community led by John Alexander Dowie--a faith healing visionary, self-reported precursor to the second coming of Christ, and leader of the Christian Catholic Apostolic Church--at City Zion, Illinois. Dowie was a problematic man not without good and interesting qualities, though his to-the-death prayer duel with a rival visionary is an interesting story to be left for another time.)
I've always enjoyed this photograph in particular--it was made from a 70'-tall platform with a 11x14" view camera using a wide angle and a deep oblique angle, along with 30,000 soldiers from Camp Custer, Michigan. It was made in 1918 by Mole, along with the evident and very capable choreography of John D. Thomas, who was the Doctor of Persepctive and Motion for the pictures.
[Note: most of the images below are extremely clickable/zoomable.]
Most of the soldiers are used to make the field at the top of the stripes--so near as I can tell (from the resolution image that I had to work with), there are about 300 men in each stripe (except for the outer two), meaning that there between 3,000 to 5,000 in the collected stripes, which puts something like 25,000 troops in the stars and their field. The middle stripe I reckon to be 150' long; my guesstimate for the star field is 600' deep and 1250' wide, making a triangular collection of men 750'x1250'. That takes a little bit of planning to accomplish to ensure that everything is kept in perspective, and which also means that a lot more folks are needed at the top of the constructed image than at the bottom.
Another excellent example is this photo made of the U.S. Marine Corps emblem using 6,000 marines at Paris Island in 1920.