Wandelpaden ten zuiden van de Grote Berg in het Noorderplantsoen, Groningen

About this group

Rephotography Is the act of repeat photography of the same site, with a time lag between the two images; a "then and now" view of a particular area. Some are casual, usually taken from the same view point but without regard to season, lens coverage or framing. Some are very precise and involve a careful study of the original image. Long a technique for scientific study, especially of changing ecological systems, it became formalized as a form of photographic documentary in the middle 1970s

Group rules and description

Just a couple:

  • Add in pairs Old picture (than) and the New picture (now)

  • Or combine the two in one picture (example)

The accurate rephotographer usually determines several facts before taking a new image. An important starting point is the choice of the older image. To show continuity between the two images, rephotographers usually include in the frame a building or other object which is still there in the modern view.

Some urban scenes change so much that the original buildings shown have been completely obscured by subsequent skyscrapers, or have been demolished. A "then and now" photograph could be taken but there would be nothing in common to link the two images. The vantage point from which the original photographer took the view may have disappeared over the years, so the rephotographer has to choose an original view for which the vantage point is still accessible, or arrange to rent equipment to duplicate the original position of the camera.

Since modern cameras have lenses that differ considerably from older lenses, the rephotographer also has to take into account the area that the lens covers, and the depth of field available. Older lenses were softer than their modern equivalents, and usually of a larger aperture, reducing the "wide-angle" feel that modern lenses record.

Through scrutiny of the original image, the rephotographer determines the season and the time of day from observation of the vegetation and the shadows shown in the original view. The best way to do this is to set up a camera at the original viewpoint, at approximately the right season and time, and wait with the original view in hand, until the shadows reach the same positions relative to surrounding objects. If done with extreme accuracy it should be possible to place one image over the other, and see the edges of buildings match exactly.

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