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Photo Finish: 1925

Photo Finish: 1925

Washington, D.C. "Lt. W.L. Richardson, 9/5/25." Walter Richardson, Navy photographer who survived the crash of the airship USS Shenandoah three days earlier. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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RE: some sort of hood?

That metal snoot shaped device with the crushed front is not a viewing hood. It's an aerial camera, possibly custom built. This type of camera was built as a fixed focus (infinity) single purpose camera. If you look closely you can see the cable release positioned to be press with the thumb of the hand that holds the grip. You can also see the lower portion of the leaf shutter and the bent door that could be opened to get easier access to the shutter settings.

Also, the destroyed Speed Graphic wouldn't have had a "projection anastigmat lens" as Davoosie supposed. Such lenses lacked an iris for exposure control. It would have instead been a conventional taking lens with aperture control mounted in a plain barrel without a shutter. The Speed Graphic body has its own focal plane shutter. The camera being a 5x7, the guess that the lens is in the 7-8" focal length range is probably correct.


Yeah, looks like 3 bag mags too, and a lot of ruined film. Some sort of viewing hood (?) on the right. The body of the speed looks mostly intact. Rugged cameras, esp for being made of wood. I shoot a 4x5 pacemaker speed, it's a lot of fun.

BuAer Photographer

Walter L. Richardson: photographed while employee of Bureau of Aeronautics, now referred to as the "Father of Naval Photography." The Navy's annual awards for photography are named after him. He began his navy career as a cook aboard the battleship Mississippi.

One degree of Shorpy separation: Walter's boss at the Bureau of Aeronautics in 1925 would have been William A. Moffett, father of aviatrix Janet Moffett.

Washington Post, August 30, 1925.

Personnel of the Government Departments.


Lieut. W. L. Richardson, U.S.N.R.F., in charge of the photographic division, bureau of aeronautics, will leave Washington tomorrow for Lakehurst. He will make the trip on the dirigible Shenandoah over the middle Western States, taking photographs for the files of the Navy Department.

Washington Post, September 5, 1925.

Shenandoah Survivor Arrives.

Lieut. W. L. Richardson, of Washington, was the first survivor of the wreck of the Shenandoah to reach Washington. He immediately conferred with Secretary of Navy Wilbur, describing the manner in which the air liner was wrecked. Lieut. Richardson, who was photographer aboard the Shenandoah, received slight injures to his hand in the wreck.

Then There Were Giants

I am afraid that had I been the good lieutenant, I'd have taken a month's leave to regain my composure (and my faith in the future of rigid, lighter-than-air machines) before returning to the office.


Top Handle 5x7 Speed Graphic along with the Graflex cut film magazine. And what looks to be a Eastman projection anastigmat lens, maybe a 7.5" Nice!

He must have been in the Bow

The Bow section of the Ship broke loose and continued floating until it made a soft(er) landing about 12 miles away from the rest of the ship.

Lots of interesting pictures and facts here:

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