|Feb. 25, 1942: Searchlights converge on unknown object over Los Angeles in the early morning hours. Over 1,400 rounds of anti-aircraft rounds are fired. This is the unretouched version. (Credit: Los Angeles Times)|
The Battle of LA, 1942
By Scott Harrison
The LA Times
Feb. 25, 1942: Searchlights converge on an unknown object in the skies over Los Angeles. During the early morning air-raid alert, more than 1,400 anti-aircraft shells are fired.
The incident, now referred to as the Battle of L.A., occurred less than three months after the Pearl Harbor attack and two days after a Japanese submarine shelled an oil facility near Santa Barbara.
The next day, on Feb. 26, The Times published a photo page with a retouched version of the above searchlight photo and seven other images of damage from falling anti-aircraft shells. . . .
. . . This week I inspected the negatives from which the two versions were scanned at UCLA.
The non-retouched negative (above) is very flat, the focus is soft and it looks underexposed. While I could not tell if the negative was the original or a copy negative made from a print, it definitely showed the original scene before a print was retouched.
The second negative is a copy negative from a retouched print. Certain details, such as the white spots around the searchlights’ convergence, are exactly the same in both negatives.
In the retouched version, many light beams were lightened and widened with white paint, while other beams were eliminated. . . .