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||Photographs by Larry Harnisch/Los Angeles Times
The original 1942 print of searchlights over Los Angeles.
The back of the print, showing editors’ notations and the publication date Feb. 26, 1942.
Feb. 26, 1942: Marvin Miles, The Times aviation correspondent for many years, files a color story on the night of the air raid:
“Explosions stabbing the darkness like tiny busting stars. ... Searchlight beams poking long crisscross fingers across the night sky.... But the objects in the sky slowly moved on, caught in the center of the lights like the hub of a bicycle wheel surrounded by gleaming spokes.”
“Like lethal firecrackers, the antiaircraft blasted above, below and seemingly right on the target in the tenacious beams. Other shots fell short, exploding halfway up the long climb. Tracers sparked upward like Roman candles.”
“…The target inched along high overhead, flanked by the cherry-red bursts. And the householders shivered in their robes, their faces set, watching the awesome scene.”
Another Good Story Ruined: Saucers Over L.A.! – Part 1
Another Good Story Ruined: Saucers Over L.A.! -- Part 2
Another Good Story Ruined: The Battle of Los Angeles
Note: All of these scans were done in color. The large one above was made by Scott Harrison of the photo department using a scanner that can accommodate oversize prints in one take. I’m using it because my scanner is smaller and forces me to scan oversize prints in pieces and then paste them together electronically. Nothing has been done to these scans other than cropping.
Also note that this is an old, wrinkled print that has been folded in half for storage. It is virtually impossible to scan it without getting reflections from the photo paper’s shiny, uneven surface.
Let’s see how the alterations were done:
First, we have the darkened skyline: Black paint.
Then we have the “searchlight beams poking long crisscross fingers across the night sky....” I magnified the scan to show where the paint has been rubbed off the print. I want to emphasize that the print is wrinkled and the horizontal streaks in the lower part of the photo are reflections from my scanner.
“Like lethal firecrackers, the anti-aircraft blasted above…” These are blobs of paint. The vertical break in the emulsion is where the print was folded for storage. The horizontal line is a crop mark.
Yes, the object in the center – which some have speculated is a flying saucer – is nothing but paint.