USGS Southwest Repeat Photography Collection: Kanab Creek, southern Utah and northern Arizona, 1872-2010

Metadata Updated: March 7, 2020

The USGS Southwest Repeat Photography Collection (‘Collection’), formerly named the Desert Laboratory Repeat Photography Collection, is now housed by the Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC) in Flagstaff, Arizona. It contains images from the late 1800s to mid-2000s, and was assembled over decades by now retired USGS scientists Drs. Robert H. Webb and Raymond M. Turner. There are 80 camera points, or stakes, along Kanab Creek in the Collection, with images and fields notes taken between 1872 and 2010 (a 138-year span). About one-fourth of the Kanab Creek film had been previously digitized, but none of the associated materials, including field notes, were digitized. The goal of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Kanab Creek data preservation project was to preserve all film and materials for the Kanab Creek stretch, which represents a small subset of the entire USGS Southwest Repeat Photography Collection. For the purposes of this project, we will be using assessments made during the digital preservation of this subset in order to estimate the time and protocols necessary to digitize and release the entire Collection, thus using this project as an example to model the preservation efforts for the rest of the Collection. As the Collection was compiled, every camera point or stake location (‘stake’) was assigned a stake number denoted by the letter ‘s’ in front of a number (e.g., s1234). It is important to note that since images were taken by various repeat photography expeditions at different times and for different research purposes, stake numbers do not follow a logical numerical or geographical order. Each stake has a physical folder where all materials collected over time have been consolidated, with the exception of film. The folders contain print photographs, field notes, Record of Repeat Photography note sheets and other paper materials. The photographic film (negative and positive) is stored within archival envelopes within fire safes at SBSC for security. The goal of this preservation project was to digitize the best quality film and other materials for each date at all stakes along Kanab Creek in order to preserve the long term visual record. The digitization process was slightly different depending on the type of material; all processes were documented and a detailed protocol has been provided as an attachment on the ScienceBase page. Geospatial data are also included in this release to provide users with a map representation of where the stake locations are situated along Kanab Creek. This data release contains 80 child items, each representing a different stake location along Kanab Creek. Each child item provides digital copies of images and field notes from all photographed years at each stake, and has an associated metadata record that describes the contents of the page. This main landing page includes all child items, geospatial references for all stake locations (SHP file), a spreadsheet with supplemental information for each stake (CSV file), a project level metadata record, a metadata record that describes both the SHP file and the CSV, and a document describing the scanning protocols used for this project. Description of film materials: Film is ideal for preservation at a high resolution because it is the closest representation of the source image captured by the camera. The images in this release include digital scans of 182 film negatives or prints. Most of these are from distinct stake locations and dates, however there are some duplicates (from the same stake and date) that were scanned in order to preserve unique details they included. The film types vary depending on the time of data collection and type of camera used. The film types include black and white negatives, black and white positives, color negatives and color positives, and are found in either 4x5" size or 120mm film size. To digitize all film types we used a Hasselblad Flextight scanner with associated FlexLight software. To edit film we used a combination of FlexLight software and Adobe Photoshop editing tools. All adjustments were made in order to achieve maximum clarity of landscape features, debris flows, vegetation patterns and human settlements in the photos so these aspects can be easily observed and studied. Description of photographic prints: The stake folders in the Kanab Creek Collection contain print photographs of various sizes and types, with possible repeats. The print sizes included 8x10", 5x8", 4x6" prints and 3x5" Polaroid photos. The type of photographic equipment used to take the original photographs varied depending on the year the data were captured, the photographic technology available at that time, and the photographer’s choice of film size and camera. Photographs were digitized using a flatbed scanner and associated software. Then, the scans were edited in Adobe Photoshop. Similar to the process used for film, image adjustments were made in order to achieve maximum clarity of landscape features and change; particularly, channel changes resulting from various geomorphic processes (including stream flow, floods and debris flows), vegetation patterns and human settlements so that these aspects could be easily observed and studied. Description of paper materials: The images in the repeat photography collection are accompanied by field notes that provide valuable information about the repeat imagery and data collection process. All paper materials in the stake folders were digitized to preserve this important information. These included hand written field notes, Record of Repeat Photography data sheets, field notes on vegetation, and film envelopes with written camera metadata and camera settings. Some folder documents are originals, while others are printed photocopies of field notebooks or other documents. A flatbed EPSON scanner was used to digitize these documents. Minor adjustments were made to digital quality in order to maximize readability of the information. The digitization process was slightly different depending on the type of material; all processes are documented in the metadata, and a detailed digitizing protocol has been provided as an attachment on the project's ScienceBase page.

Access & Use Information

License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

Downloads & Resources


Metadata Date April 28, 2017
Metadata Created Date January 30, 2020
Metadata Updated Date March 7, 2020
Reference Date(s) January 1, 2017 (publication)
Frequency Of Update asNeeded
Frequency Of Update asNeeded

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI Open Data

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Date April 28, 2017
Metadata Created Date January 30, 2020
Metadata Updated Date March 7, 2020
Reference Date(s) January 1, 2017 (publication)
Responsible Party U.S. Geological Survey, Southwest Region (Point of Contact)
Contact Email
Access Constraints Use Constraints: None. Users are advised to read the data set's metadata thoroughly to understand appropriate use and data limitations., Access Constraints: None. Please see 'Distribution Info' for details.
Bbox East Long -112.4
Bbox North Lat 36.39
Bbox South Lat 37.47
Bbox West Long -112.65
Coupled Resource
Frequency Of Update asNeeded
Harvest Object Id c012ee11-5ca7-471d-aa5f-b69cb44d4421
Harvest Source Id 5b7e4031-1e2d-428b-92e2-56554bbd7371
Harvest Source Title DOI Open Data
Licence Unless otherwise stated, all data, metadata and related materials are considered to satisfy the quality standards relative to the purpose for which the data were collected. Although these data and associated metadata have been reviewed for accuracy and completeness and approved for release by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the display or utility of the data on any other system or for general or scientific purposes, nor shall the act of distribution constitute any such warranty. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
Metadata Language
Metadata Type geospatial
Progress completed
Spatial Data Service Type
Spatial Reference System
Spatial Harvester true
Temporal Extent Begin 1872-01-01
Temporal Extent End 2010-01-01

Didn't find what you're looking for? Suggest a dataset here.