After the terrific teleseminar we had on Monday night, I decided that I wanted to take a break from the office at some point this week for a little R&R. Yesterday, Thursday, was that day away, and what a day it was. Now, I could have taken a mini-vacation, or went test-driving sports cars. I could have headed over to the local state park and communed with nature or even worked around the house. But I had something different in mind.
When you think R&R, you probably dream of rest and relaxation, however, mine wasn’t THAT kind of R&R. My R&R was Reading and Research and I did so at a VERY cool place that’s perfect for such a thing…the National Archives at College Park Maryland!
Jim (my Massage Therapy bud) and I hopped in the car and headed for Maryland. I was SO excited to go to NARA because it’s one of the largest repositories for Public Domain content in the world! When we arrived, we quickly discovered the “price” it costs to do research there…jumping through security hoops (for good reason) and TIME. This place was six floors of Public Domain research intimidation at its best. Let me give you just a quick example of what I mean…I had thought it would be cool to see some of the air combat photos from WWII. I love old planes and NARA is the perfect place to find photos like that. When I checked the system to see what was available, I quickly discovered that just ONE of the files on WWII aircraft (there were many…broken down by military branch and operation) contained 1.2 million images in it. Yes, you read correctly…over one million images! Now how in the world do you research with THOSE kind of numbers? It tilted my brain (in a good way)!
So I decided to go after some images even MORE dear to my heart…that I KNEW were there. Before I tell you what those images were though, I want to tell you what I took with me for the research. At NARA, there are things you’re allowed to take into the research rooms and things you cannot take in. For instance, you can take in a laptop but not its case. You can take a pencil but no pens or markers. You can also take in cameras and scanners (only certain types) but again, no cases. Notebooks and pads are NOT allowed but loose sheets of paper are, provided they’ve been checked and stamped by security. All this is to protect the data, so while it’s an inconvenience, I’m glad they have measures like that in place. Okay, the images. Of course, being the ultimate technology research junkie, I had my laptop, a portable LED scanner, two video cameras, my Canon 20D digital camera and a LOT of anticipation. The preperation was worth it!
I’ve talked before about how much I love the photos taken by Ansel Adams for the National Park Service. They’re some of his best. Well folks, yesterday, I had the privilege to go through all 226 master prints by the master himself, and I scanned my favorite 20 (wasn’t enough time to get all of them). I captured these photographs (gently with white gloves and all) at 600dpi…big enough for posters (big grin). I’ll tell you…it was almost like a religious experience. I was in awe with the idea that I had access to these master prints…wow. Here are a couple of my personal favorites from yesterday:
Aren’t they amazing images?! Well, you know me well enough by now to know that I’m going to break down the research process for you in the coming weeks (which is one of the reasons I went to NARA). But I just had to share the excitement of yet ANOTHER massive motherlode collection of Public Domain content just waiting for you and I to discover!