Newsletter 5
16 May 2021
The photo queue boneyards
Photo of 133373 by Geoff Goodall
This newsletter is meant primarily as a heads-up to our contributors about pictures that may be sitting in the corrosion corners of their personal photo upload queues – in the Removed Photos and Unaccepted Photos sections.

In short, your Removed Photos section contains photos that you put there yourself, and your Unaccepted Photos section holds photos that the screeners found unsuitable for the AirHistory website. Until now, these photos remained there indefinitely, but in the near future, these photos will start to be deleted from the system. As of 20 May, any photos in your Removed Photos and Unaccepted photos queues will remain there for one month only. After that time, the photos will be deleted. A backup will be kept for another month, during which time we can still retrieve a photo if necessary. After that second month, the photos will be permanently deleted from our servers and can no longer be restored.

So please have a look at your Removed Photos in particular, to see if it will be a problem if any of those photos disappear. Note that you also have a different queue, Unreleased Photos, for photos that you want to add to the database but that for various reasons are not yet ready for screening. More about your Unreleased Photos queue below.

To manage your personal photo queues, you need to be logged in on the website. Then click the Account tab to reveal the dropdown menu. Your main queue, My Upload Queue, contains any photos that still need to be screened – thanks to the efforts of or screening team, it will often be empty, or only show the photos you haven't released for screening yet. Below it, you see your four minor queues: Unreleased Photos, Returned Photos, Removed Photos, and Unaccepted Photos. The last three together we might call the boneyards of your photo queue. And as any aviation enthousiast knows, boneyards may still contain valuable assets, rather than just trash!
Unreleased Photos: the storage shelter
Photo of 24261 by Joop de Groot
Let’s start with the Unreleased Photos section, which until recently was called the Hidden Photos section, and arguably is an underrated feature of the website. It allows you to hide a photo from screening in order to make adjustments to the data later. Basically, you upload a photo, and then quickly click the Hide from Screening button to put it on hold and keep it from being screened prematurely.

For example, you are happily editing and uploading some photos and you find that you need to look up an aircraft version or a construction number, but don’t want to lose any steam from your photo editing frenzy. Or you don’t have the inspiration to write the comment you would like to add. Or you’re still waiting for a friend’s opinion as to where you took that photo in 1986.

In such cases, you can convenienty upload the photo, but put it on hold by clicking the Hide from Screening button in the main queue. You will then still be able to access it and edit much of the data, but it will not be screened yet. When you get to finish the details, the photo is already in the queue system. You don’t have to dig up the photo from your computer or look up information again that you already found. You only need to complete the data and release the photo into the AirHistory screening queue by pressing the Release for Screening button.

A key reminder is that the Unreleased Photos are under full control of the user – they will never disappear. A photo thus hidden from screening could remain in limbo forever. The idea is, of course, that the photo is at some point either released for screening, or removed if you don’t see it fit after all. Contributors currently have a total of almost 1200 photos in their Unreleased Photos queues, and we fear that many of these have been forgotten about. So, if you’re using this feature, please regularly check your Unreleased Photos queue, and either release for screening or remove the photos that you're done with.
Returned Photos: the workshop
Photo of 9940 by Alistair T. Gardener
Returned photos are photos that would benefit from some improvement, according to the screeners. Acceptance criteria at AirHistory are very lenient compared to other sites, but we do have some basic standards. Common issues that we see are about exposure, sharpening and unlevel horizons. If we think there is probably not much room for improvement, photos will often still be accepted as they are.

If we think the flaw is too much and probably correctable, the photo will be sent back – returned. Our intention is very much that the photographer fixes the issue and then puts such a photo back in the queue.

If your photo is returned, you will receive an e-mail message. We try to describe as clearly as possible what we’d like to see fixed. To put the improved photo back in the screening queue, either follow the instructions in the e-mail, or replace the photo in the Returned Photos queue on the website. Make sure you are logged in and go to Account > My queue - Returned Photos. Then click on the Replace Image button to replace the returned photo with the new file, and the photo will be released into the queue again. Please remember, just because a photo is returned, that doesn’t mean we don’t want it. In fact, the opposite is true!
Removed Photos and Unaccepted Photos: the corrosion corners
Photo of 338 by Stephan de Bruijn
These two unloved sections are what we might call the corrosion corners of the boneyard. Removed photos are photos that you deleted from the queue yourself. If you change your mind and still wish to add such a photo to the database, don’t despair - simply click the Restore button and the photo will be restored to the main upload queue. There, if the photo or the data is not quite ready for screening, you can click the Hide from Screening button to put the photo on hold, as explained above.

The Unaccepted Photos queue holds photos that have not been accepted and that we do not see as suitable for AirHistory. These photos are shown here for reference purposes only, as no action can be taken on these shots. Perhaps you have a better photo to replace it, or maybe you are able to improve the same original, but you will need to do a fresh upload into the queue.
  • If you have uploaded photos to the screening queue that are not quite ready to be added, there’s no need to remove them – instead, you can use the handy Hide from Screening function. Previously called Hidden Photos, your Unreleased Photos queue is a safe storage area. Photos will not be deleted. However, please don't let your aircraft catch dust there – no one will see them! Please release them for screening as soon as possible.
  • Your Returned Photos queue contains those photos that need improvement according to the screeners, but that we definitely would like to add. Please try to fix the issue as soon as possible, or contact us if anything is unclear. 
  • Photos in your other two minor queues, the Removed Photos and Unaccepted Photos sections, will no longer stay there indefinitely from 20 May, but will be deleted after one month. So please regularly check your Removed Photos queue in particular, to retrieve any shots you still might want to add to our database.
Photo of 55-4239 by Fergal Goodman
Dating tips
Fear not, dear readers, we are not going to mingle in your private lives. Instead, we would like to give a few tips about how to provide a date range with your AirHistory photos, in case you don't know exactly when some shots were taken. This has just been made a bit more user-friendly, and the relevant help texts on the upload page have been updated. The following explanation may also be helpful.
If possible, we ask that you enter the full date on which you took a shot, for example 1 June 2017. You can type '2017-06-01' in the Date Taken input field, or use the calendar which automatically pops up.

For pre-digital photos and slides especially, exact dates are not always known. We understand that of course and provide options to indicate a date range rather than a single day. Please use those options if necessary – a realistic date range is far more helpful to others than an exact date you're actually unsure of.  

If you know the month but not the day, a handy trick is that you can still use the Single date field on the upload page but enter ‘00’ for the day, for example '1992-06-00'. This will display as ‘June 1992’. Similarly, if you only know a year, you may enter ‘00’ for the month as well. '1949-00-00' wil elegantly display as '1949'. By the way, you don't actually need to type the hyphens: '20170601' or '19490000' wil work just as well!
More date range options
It is also possible to provide a more specific date range, and we would like you to do so whenever possible. The option is activated by checking the 'Use Date Range' box on the upload page. It works mostly the same way as the single date input field. Thus '1994-12-20' to 1995-01-03' will show as ’20 December 1994 to 3 January 1995’.

To show whole months, for instance ‘May 1982 to July 1982’, simply enter the first and last days of those months: '1982-05-01' to '1982-07-31'. But you can also use the '00' trick. If you enter '1982-05-00' to '1982-07-00', the system will replace the '00' with the first or last day of that month respectively, and the result will be the same. This not only saves seconds of your time, but also has the additional advantage of not having to think about months having 30, 31 or 28 days – or 29 in leap years. The system will do it for you!

Similarly, if you enter the first and last days of the years or, more conveniently, four zeros, the date range will show as years only: ' 1951-01-01' to ' 1955-12-31', or '19510000'  to ' 19550000', will elegantly display as '1951 to 1955’. 
Data on dates
So that is how to enter a date range on the upload page – but how to establish a reasonable range for a date you don't know? Period clothing and hairstyles, as in Jonathan Verschuuren's SR-71 photo, are indicative enough, but not actually useful for pinpoining a specific timeframe. Here are a few pointers which, while often obvious perhaps, might help out.
Photo of 61-7980 by Jonathan Verschuuren
  • Your presence at a photo location could of course give you a clue about the date if a photo is your own – you moved to California in 1986, or your first trip to Asia was in 2001. You had surely thought of this already, but it's perhaps easy to forget when you start concentrating on the plane in the picture.
  • Aircraft come with build dates, delivery dates, conversion dates and withdrawal dates. It is often relatively easy to find the timeframe in which an airframe served with a particular operator. For this you can use the many online databases, registers and other resources that are available nowadays. Some production lists and many useful website links can be found in the Reference section in our top menu.
  • Paint schemes and titles can be misleading though – an aircraft may occasionally still be wearing a previous operator's colours, although the titles are usually updated very quickly. When a new livery is introduced it may take many years to repaint an entire fleet. The splendid special colours on the DC-8 below marked the US Bicentennial Year, but this does not mean Bob Garrard took this photo in 1975-76. In fact – Bob kept track of his photo dates fortunately – it was three years later.
  • A good and easy check is to view photos of the aircraft already in the AirHistory database – have them sorted by photo date and a fairly reliable time window for your photo may appear before your eyes.
  • You could also investigate another aircraft appearing in the photo, or other shots that you know were taken on the same occasion. In fact, combining several registrations in an internet search might sometimes even produce an exact date from spotter logs, such as the Show Reports section on the Scramble website. Scramble and many other useful resources are of course linked to in AirHistory's Reference section in the top menu.
  • Buildings showing up in photos can also be useful – it will often not be too hard to find out when that terminal opened, or when the old control tower was torn down. Or maybe the very airfield was new or closed not long after your presence.
Photo of N1976P by Bob Garrard
In some cases, you could go on and on – but obviously you need to stop somewhere and don't want to spend hours dating a picture. What we do ask is that you narrow down your dates as far as you can in a resaonably expedient way – using the right sources it often doesn't take much time once you've done it a few times. AirHistory is not just a picture gallery, after all, it's a database. Dates are important. Each reliably narrowed-down date range really is another important building brick in the significant aviation history database we are constructing together!
Photos by Stephan de Bruijn, Alistair T. Gardener, Bob Garrard, Geoff Goodall,
Fergal Goodman, Joop de Groot and Johathan Verschuuren