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.
A lovely American Eagle, this time using a number of nurses, uses 70 people to construct theoutline of the inner left wing, while 50 are used to reach from the bottom tail feather tip to the neck, making the distance top-to-bottom of the eagle about 250 densely packed people. There are about 100 people forming the wing tip to wing top section, meaning that the width of the eagle from wing-to-wing at may be 750 feet. In the midst of all of this are 12,000 people. The photo was made at Camp Gordon, Atlanta, Georgia, in 1918.
This construction of Uncle Sam seems more vast than the others, and may well be among the longest of Mole's creations. It was made at Campe Lee, Virginia, using 21,000 troops. It is also one of the few images (so far as I can tell) that uses people laying down (in the beard of Uncle).
The Woodrow Wilson living portrait was made with 21,000 soldiers at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1918.
Mole's Statue of Liberty seems to me to be the tallest/longest of his photographs. The resolution is limited, but knowing that 18,000 soldiers were used, and seeing that the widest part of the torsoof the statue's body seem to be about 30 people wide, my best guess is that the entire construction is over 1500' long. I think that the greatest concetration of soldiers would have to be in the farthest reaches of the statue--in the flame--and my best guess, again, is that perahps half of the number of soldiers used would be in the upraised hand and above.