About the Auschwitz Virtual Tour Exhibition

The project was conceived some years ago when Alan ("Jake") Jacobs first saw Quick Time Virtual Reality Films. Having photographed Auschwitz many times, it occurred to him that no matter how powerful a single photo, the observer is still outside the scene. This technology provided an opportunity for a photographer to lessen to some degree the viewer’s role as audience-observer, and enhance his perception as a participant-obsever.

As he already had a 35mm single-lens-reflex digital camera, a Canon D60, the next step was to purchase a solid tripod, and a Manfrotto Quick Time Virtual Reality Head, and practice, using a Canon EOS EF 17-35/2.8L USM wide angle zoom lens set to its widest at 17mm.

Krysia in Birkenau

Next Jake’s wife Krysia, the technical part of the team, purchased VR Worx, a program that stitched multiple photos, took out what wasn’t necessary, adjusted exposure from photo to photo, and produced in a very short time, maybe ten or fifteen minutes, a virtual reality 360º film. The photos were processed before this in full Photoshop on a variety of Macs.

Jake preparing to take aerial photographs in Auschwitz I

They went back to Auschwitz in 2003 and did some test shots with a Canon EOS 1D 35mm digital SLR and an EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM wide angle lens set to 16mm.While there, they checked with Editor in Chief of Auschwitz Publications, Teresa Swiebocka, who introduced them to senior editor Jarek Mensfelt. Both were interested and over the next few months test shots were sent and the invitation to come and do the work was made by Auschwitz Vice-Director, Krystyna Oleksy, this to share an exhibition jointly with Cybrary of the Holocaust.

Then it was a matter of getting expense money. Jake spoke with Michael Declan Dunn the creator of The Cybrary of the Holocaust at https://www.remember.org. Michael has published several exhibitions of Jake's Auschwitz photos and he set to work raising the money. He found two donors, Liz Edlic, Scott Isdaner, whose grants made the project possible.

Jake taking aerial photos. Crane provided by the Museum.

From the time of the invitation through the shoot at the camps, Auschwitz Editor and web designer Jarek Mensfelt and Jake exchanged many ideas about the project: tone, content, logistics etc. During the shoot an EOS 1D Marc II, a 35mm digital SLR, and Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM, Canon EF 28-135 USM IS, Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM lenses were used, along with a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L USM Wide Angle Lens.

Returning to the States, the project was now in the hands of Krysia Jacobs. This meant processing the photos in Photoshop CS, stitching them with VR Work 2.5, converting to Flash with qtvr2flash, and then… designing the exhibition for the Internet.

The following equipment was used in taking the photographs:

Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L USM Wide Angle Lens
Canon EOS EF 17-35/2.8L USM
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM

Canon EOS 1D Marc II 35mm digital SLR
Canon EOS 1D 35mm digital SLR

Alan and Krysia Jacobs can be contacted at auschwitz-vr@jacobsphotos.com.