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From the Stacks 

May 13, 2011

Lovell & Libby Langstroth’s photography collection

I am thrilled to announce that Lovell and Libby Langstroth recently gifted their 35mm slide collection to the Academy Archives. The collection includes 23 binders of slides from dives in Monterey Bay and 13 binders of slides from the Indo-Pacific.Corynactis californica; Club Tipped Anemone

Corynactis californica. L. & L. Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences

The Langstroths already had more than 300 digital images hosted on Calphotos, where the Academy Library has over 32,000 images of plants, animals, fungi, landscape, and human culture images available online. The Langstroths were looking for a home for their spectacular photography collection, and the Academy was a natural fit. We will soon start to survey the photographs and select new images to add to Calphotos.

Macrocystis pyrifera; Giant Kelp

Macrocystis pyrifera. L. & L. Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences

Some more details about the Langstroths are given in their Calphotos bio:

Lovell, M.D. Stanford U; Libby, PhD Anthropology, U.C. Berkeley. Pursued marine biology studying at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station and Cal State’s Moss Landing Marine Lab. Dived and photographed extensively in California waters and the IndoPacific. Volunteered as guides for 20 yrs. at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Published “A Living Bay, the Underwater World of Monterey Bay” University of California Press, Berkeley, 2000.

Loligo opalescens

Loligo opalescens. L. & L. Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences.

Tethya aurantia

Tethya aurantia. L. & L. Langstroth © California Academy of Sciences.

- Danielle Castronovo

Archives & Digital Collections Librarian


Filed under: Archives,Photography — Archives & Special Collections @ 3:42 pm

May 12, 2011

Galapagos Islands 1905-1906 Digitization Project Update: Imaging Finch Specimens

I am almost at the end of my 16-week internship at the Academy Library, and I am excited to have started imaging finch specimens. This is part of the Connecting Content project, which has been made possible with grant funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. This project involves digitizing and providing access to expedition field notes and avian specimens from a 1905-1906 expedition to the Galapagos Islands. At the end of the project the finch specimen images will be available through the Encyclopedia of Life.

During the first few months of the project I worked on digitizing the expedition field notes while we prepared for imaging the finches. A lot of planning and experimenting had to be done before we could begin, and I learned a lot along the way.

The finch collection from this expedition consists of over 4,000 specimens; this includes numerous species collected from many of the islands in the Galapagos Archipelago. Before beginning this project, the project staff had to figure out how we would select the 1,000 specimens that will be imaged as our sample from this collection.

Through our selection process we want to provide researchers and users with a balanced and deep collection, so we are imaging a proportional sample of each species, including an equal sampling of male and female specimens, from every island where they were collected.

One of the goals of this project is to provide researchers with the ability to view these images online and conduct research remotely, so it was important that we considered image quality, camera angles, and image uniformity. After discussions with staff scientists and researchers we are taking six images of each specimen, from different points of view. This includes shots of the ventral (belly), dorsal (back), lateral (side), and head/beak of the finches, as well as the front and back sides of the collection tags. The collection tags are important as they contain information such as the genus, species, collection date, specimen number, and the island where they were collected.

The bird specimens must be handled carefully. Although they are quite rigid, some parts of them may break or come off with rough or excessive handling, particularly their feathers and legs. Each specimen is gently placed on a uniform background with a ruler and a color bar before the photograph is taken. The color bar allows us, as well as the user, to gauge color representation and accuracy.

The camera that we are using for this part of the project is a Canon E05 5D with a 50mm lens. It creates highly detailed and crisp images. One can zoom in and view incredible detail, including individual strands of feathers, and even dandruff particles. The camera is attached to a custom-built mount, and is affectionately known as “the Big Kahuna.” This equipment was provided by Academy curator of Herpetology Bob Drewes. You can read about his ongoing work teaching about and studying the incredible biodiversity of Sao Tome and Principe on his blog.

It has been fun and a great learning experience to work on this project. Although my internship is coming to an end in a couple of weeks, I am certain you will be hearing more about the progress of this exciting project from the staff and other interns over the next couple of years.

Josh Roselle


Filed under: Academy History,Archives,Connecting Content — Archives & Special Collections @ 4:52 pm

May 2, 2011

Into the Deep with Elephant Seals

Watch Into the Deep with Elephant Seals on Wednesday, May 4th at 7:30pm on KQED 9 & KQED HD on Comcast 709 or online at www.kqed.org/quest.

Thousands of northern elephant seals – some weighing up to 4,500 pounds – make an annual migration to breed each winter to Año Nuevo State Reserve, a jagged stretch of coastline in San Mateo County.  For decades, they’ve caught the eye of the marine biologists who are using high-tech tools to plumb the secrets of elephant seals, marine mammals that live mostly underwater.

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Several months ago I was approached by a producer from KQED who was working on a QUEST episode about elephant seals. He was interested in historical images of elephant seals and we were able to supply images from the 1922 Guadalupe Island, Mexico expedition and the 1932 Templeton Crocker Galapagos expedition.

In 1922, the Academy partnered with the government of Mexico, the National Geographic society, and the San Diego Society of Natural History to study the elephant seal, the fur seal, and southern sea otter on Guadalupe Island, Mexico. The previous year the Committee on the Conservation of Marine Life of the Pacific, part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, suggested we study these animals so they could issue recommendations for conservation efforts.

The KQED QUEST episode airs this week and we are all excited to see which photos were used in the show.

Male Elephant Seal from the 1922 Guadalupe Island Expedition collection.

Expedition member on beach from the 1922 Guadalupe Island Expedition collection.

1922 Guadalupe Island, Mexico Expedition members. (Left to right) – A.W. Anthony, G. Dallas Hanna, and Carlos Cuesta Terron. Ensenada, Baja California.

Group at Scripps Institution, La Jolla California

Group at Scripps Institution, La Jolla California. July 8, 1922. Top row: Frank Tose, Clinton Abbott, A.W. Anthony, Barton Warren Evermann, Carlos Cuesta Terron, W.C. Crandall. Lower row: Fred Baker, W.E. Ritter, Joseph Slevin, Captain Angulo, unidentified, Jose M. Gallegos, and unidentified.

- Danielle Castronovo

Archives & Digital Collections Librarian


Filed under: Archives,Photography — Archives & Special Collections @ 2:15 pm

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