Photographs at the Oakland Museum


The Oakland Museum of California has opened Above and Below: Stories from Our Changing Bay as the inaugural exhibit in its remodeled Gallery of Natural Sciences. One portion of this large effort to “unveil the quirky stories of how people and nature together have shaped the San Francisco Bay Area over the last 6,000 years” addresses the South Bay salt pond landscape that I photograph. I am delighted to have several photographs on display including three large prints and a smattering of normal sized images used here and there in explication.

Baylands mural - 43 feet wide

A fuzzy cellphone shot of the large panorama.

The large prints were a fine challenge. In reviewing the empty gallery space we developed the idea of mounting a panoramic image high on the end wall of the gallery. This wall, in the portion of the gallery devoted to the South Bay, would be visible across the room from the point of entry. I nominated five aerial panoramas from my South Bay work and after a bit of pondering the museum decided they would like a panorama from above Salt Pond E9 printed eight feet high and forty–three feet long.

The original stitched panorama was about 20,000 pixels wide. After a bit of Photoshop work I used Perfect Resizer (formerly Genuine Fractals) to upscale the image to the desired size at 75 pixels per inch. The museum then printed test strips for a review in the gallery space itself. After some adjustments the entire panorama was printed in vertical strips and mounted to the wall as though wallpaper. This is my largest printed photograph to date and that it works is largely because it is mounted high on the wall, a location that precludes pixel peeping.

Cris near Cargill harvest print

Your author standing near the large salt harvest print.

The museum also proposed large prints (eight by twelve feet) of two single frame photographs, one mounted above the other. The lower photo, a shot of the harvest at Cargill’s Newark salt plant was in a position that allowed, indeed encouraged, close inspection. Again I prepared the files using Perfect Resizer and the museum printed test strips. To my surprise, they held up quite well at this enlargement. With that green light the photographs were printed large and became part of the exhibit.

OMCA WWW home page

Home page at OMCA WWW site.

I am also finding my aerial photographs used as graphic elements here and there by the museum – invitations, Facebook covers, their own WWW site. Above and Below: Stories from Our Changing Bay runs from August 31, 2013 to February 23, 2014

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