faq about habs haer hals photography

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  1. 1. Path: www.HABSPHOTO.com F.A.Q. About HABS, HAER & HALS Photography And the Documentation of Historic American Architecture, Engineering and Landscapes. By: Stephen D. Schafer 2017 What is HABS HAER and HALS photography in a nutshell? The Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record and Historic American Landscapes Survey are US federal government programs administered by the Heritage Documentation Program Department of the National Park Service (abbreviated HABS/HAER/HALS). The photographic documentation for these programs meets the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Architectural, Engineering and Landscape Documentation ( SIS Doc Standards ). In short these programs document the historic built environment and cultural landscapes in America and work with the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division to archive the architectural plans, reports and photographs for the public in perpetuity. HABS, HAER and HALS are considered the gold standard of photographic documentation programs.
  2. 2. Path: www.HABSPHOTO.com Is film still required? Yes, large format, black and white film is still the only medium that meets the photography guidelines for inclusion into the HABS, HAER and HALS (H3) collections. Photographs made with digital cameras (also known as born- digital) do not currently meet the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Architectural, Engineering and Landscape Documentation. The issue isn't digital resolution or megapixels; there are many issues including long-term storage that effect the requirement for analog large format photography. Many other historic preservation mitigation requirements, for instance NEPA, EIRs, MNDs, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), reference the H3 guidelines specifically, and therefore they must also be recorded on archival, large format film to comply. Black & white, not color? All three programs, HABS/HAER/HALS (H3), require photographs be taken on black & white film. The technical requirement is silver-halide on a polyester base similar to Ilford HP-5 or Kodak Tri-X. This film, if properly washed, is considered archival and resists fading, resulting in a predicted Life Expectancy of 500 years (LE500) or more, under proper storage conditions. Color film uses dyes and does not meet the LE500 requirement. Some resources that have colorful character defining features and many HALS landscape documentations may require both black and white and duplicate views on color transparency film. Additionally, color digital images of the resource may be included in the field-notes because they are not required to meet the LE500 standard.
  3. 3. Path: www.HABSPHOTO.com What is 'Large Format photography? Large format photography is captured by cameras that can expose large sheets of film that are a minimum of 4 x 5 inches. 5x7 inch or 8x10 inch are also common large format sizes. 5x7 is the preferred format for HABS/ HAER/ HALS documentation and the in- house NPS photographers at Heritage Documentation Programs in Washington DC primarily use 5x7 cameras. Very important resources like the Golden Gate Bridge, the Holland Tunnel and the Statue of Liberty were recorded on 5x7. Large Format aerial photos are customarily made with 4x5 cameras because they can be hand-held in aircraft. 8x10 cameras are often used for studio copy- views of historic photos, blueprints and maps but are generally too heavy and cumbersome for location photography in the field. Why is 'Large Format' photography required? The short answer is: Because the Secretary said so. The real answer is a bit more technical The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, [as amended, now codified in various sections of subtitle III of Title 54 U.S.C.] requires documentations meet the Secretary of the Interiors Standards for Architectural and Engineering Documentation. [48 Fed. Reg. 44,716 (1983)]. The Standards require large format film photography because it is durable, archival and records maximum data among other requirements. The National Park Service and Library of Congress (LoC) have systems and collections in place for archiving and disseminating large format images. Because the HABS documentation guidelines and systems are the gold standard for photographic documentation, state and regional policies have now adopted the HABS standards. So, from NEPA and CEQA to city ordinances and school districts the HABS guidelines, requiring large format photography, are now the de facto standard. If historic resources are impacted by new projects, demolition or alteration, there is often a requirement to document the historic property following the HABSHAERHALS guidelines (which means the Standards). In 2017, the Associate Director, Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science, in a memo [H1817(2270)] to all State and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, clarified that "HDP, will accept all documentation of National Register and National Register-eligible properties of national, state, regional or local significance So, if a building, district, object, structure or site is Local, State or National Register eligible then large format photography would be the prescribed mitigation.
  4. 4. Path: www.HABSPHOTO.com What 3 things are required for a solid documentary mitigation? Documentary mitigations that meet the intent of the Standards have three main elements: 1. MAXIMUM DATA 2. ARCHIVAL MATERIALS 3. ACCESSIBILITY 1.) Maximum Data: The high resolution, large format photography must include maximum, accurate data and shall be recorded with perspective correcting lenses. 2.) The film, prints, report, drawings and captions must all be created on archival materials, and the film shall be processed to archival standards to insure of 500+ year life expectancy (LE500). 3.) To truly be a public benefit, the photos and report must be accessible to the public. This is the reason records are sent to the Library of Congress and the reason the HABS/HAER/HALS online collection is one of the most popular. It receives nearly 50,000 visitors a month. For documentations to indeed mitigate impacts they must be in the public domain (uncopyrighted) and accessible to provide architects, engineers, scholars, preservationists, and interested members of the public with information on the historical, technological, and cultural significance of America's historic resources. The best way to insure accessibility (the only way meeting the Secretary's Standards) is through transmittal of the photographs, reports and/or drawings to the H3 collections. If donation to the LoC is not possible, and local museums, archives or libraries are selected to receive a mitigation project, it is important that copies of the documentation be disseminated to locations where the information can be easily accessed and used by the public and not just end up on a shelf in at the back of city hall or in a military or institutional archive that is only accessible by secret handshake. What is HABS-Like", HAER-Like" and HALS-Like" photography? Technically HABS-Like, HAER-Like and HALS-Like (H3-Like) are made-up terms, and as such, they require definition on a case by case basis. In our experience, these parameters are an attempt to quantify the structure, content and quality of official HABS/ HAER/ HALS documentations without federal oversight and participation. There is no formal definition for HALS-Like or HAER-Lite or Diet-HABS but in our experience, it usually means that H3 guidelines for approach, content and deliverables are followed closely but the finished documents (prints
  5. 5. Path: www.HABSPHOTO.com and negatives) may not be submitted to the Library of Congress. Often the photos, drawings and reports are distributed locally and regionally. Most of the documentary surveys in California triggered by CEQA to mitigate Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) or Mitigated Negative Declarations (MNDs) are HABS-like but it is important to note that while H3-Like documents may be required and endorsed by the lead-agency, they are not recognized as sufficient mitigations for federal projects and they do not meet the Secretarys Standards for Architectural and Engineering Documentation. Until documentation packages are submitted to the NPS Regional Office for review or a donation proposal is submitted to HDP and official numbers assigned, they are not HABS, HAER or HALS documentations*. In state or local H3-like documents, it is important to put the photographs in the public domain and make copies of the report available to the public in multiple, accessible locations. * NOTE: TO AVOID CONFUSION ANY DOCUMENTATION NOT TRANSMITTED TO HDP SHOULD NEVER BE TITLED USING THE ACRONYMS HABS/HAER OR HALS. How many photos do you need for an H3 photo project? Quantity of views is always a complex question. The answer is based on significance and the severity of the impact. If the building is a detached garage in a historic district, a few views may be sufficient. If that garage is the "HP Garage" birthplace of the Silicon Valley, then it would likely warrant more views. For example, what about complete demolition of the largest lift-span bridge in the western United States? 27 views? 39 views? 75? Or 111? In complex recording projects, the scope needs to be informed by the size of the resource, its context, its complexity and its significance. In this bridge example, forty HAER field-views were taken in the field and forty copy-photos of original blueprint pages and engineering drawings were photographed to explicate the bridge's engineering significance. Without access to the historic blueprints and plans, many more detailed field view photographs of the bridge would have been warranted. If the impact was minor, fewer views would have been warranted How was that quantity determined? Scouting, asking a lot of questions