Our indexer, Alex has finished describing the The Alaskan Air Command Photograph Collection which we have put online in Alaska’s Digital Archives. Here’s what he has to say:
This is an album comprised of twenty-five photos documenting Operations Rainbow and Fish for Kids, the Air Command’s efforts to stock Lake Louise, Green Lake, Gregory Lake, and Six Mile Creek with rainbow trout during the summer of ’55. Mostly practical but occasionally striking, the photos are composed in black and white, with captions that provide fairly detailed descriptions of the steps involved in stocking Alaska’s waterways.
“Carried in suspension for the water,” for example, depicts several hundred trout fry being introduced to Six Mile Creek via a long hose attached to a tank in the back of a truck. “Past tests have proven losses are negligible by this method,” says the caption, though, to my mind, the most interesting thing about this photo is its composition: While two men labor to operate the hose in the foreground, in the background, a film crew has set up on the banks of the creek. In this way, an entire scene is evoked.
Similarly, “Rainbow fry in the troughs” is a dynamic image that offers insight into an earlier step in the fish-planting process. “This is the start of Project ‘Fish for Kids,’” reads the caption, and the picture itself is positively brimming with different energies and textures: sun and shadow; the still, sturdy grid formed by the troughs; the squiggling and the wriggling of the fish.
Finally, “Personnel that made the plant” gives us a look at the men involved in these projects, putting a human face on the whole operation. It’s the final photograph in the collection, which I think is fitting. Though the Alaskan Air Command Photograph Collection is probably of most interest to those involved in fisheries or in the history of fish-stocking in Alaska, it’s also full of unique and compelling images from a bygone era.