Rephotography

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.”

Time Composites: John Huddleston

“These woods are my home. I walk every day along the logging roads and deer runs in this second growth forest. I work to keep the photographs straightforward, specific and unromantic – just recorded moments from the lives of the trees. Our sense of beauty arises from our deep connection to this world. We are of these forests and our urbanity rests upon them. These trees produce oxygen, paper, building materials and fuel. They retain rainfall reducing floods and droughts. They provide clean watersheds, prevent erosion, moderate the climate, recycle nutrients, store carbon and are home to animals. But these landscapes are provisional. They are managed, working timberlands – private, state and national. Most of this productive forest was farmland; all of it has been logged repeatedly.

The so-called “natural world” is not any more real or true than the manmade environment. But it may give us more space to consider our own nature. The human world is so intentional and manipulated that we easily become reactive and discursive; some distance from society may allow us to see and contemplate with more clarity. The forest offers an interconnected complexity and a vastness that gives us perspective and balance. Our psyche needs the forest.

After many years I still find the forest’s seasonal changes startling. These dynamic transformations are integrated in the “time composite” photomontages. Past, present and future coexist in a time cycle incarnate. These photographs attempt to materialize that notion of past and future existing in the present moment in the present form. Our fascination with photography is grounded in such accords: the unity of time – the photograph presents a moment of the past right now; the unity of space – the photograph places all its contents onto the same surface and into relationship; the unity of time and space – the photograph shows that these elements are not separate. The time composites are embodiments of change. They arise from the brutalist instinct of throwing things together, the Hadron Collider impulse. I have worked on variations of this change-in-the-landscape theme for over twenty years. I think this current approach finally works because both the continuity and the change are immediately evident.

The landscapes of the time composites were carefully photographed from the exact same location at different times. Since these images are essentially one view, they feel very close to being “straight” photographs to me. At first I marked the camera position with a stake using a plumb bob suspended from the tripod. A set of exact tripod measurements and ribbon guides placed in the landscape at the sides of the view would complete the initial set. This method worked but it took at least an hour, sometimes two, to reset the tripod and camera precisely. Very frustrating. After suffering a heart attack during one particularly exasperating reset, I changed my procedure. I now attach a camera mount to a tree, or I leave a tripod in place, weighted down with bricks, for a full year. (I’m happy to say I have not lost any tripods to theft.) These time composites, and all the other images in the book, have not been digitally manipulated. Computer tools have been used to piece together the different images but nothing else has been created or altered.” – John Huddleston

http://www.johnhuddlestonphoto.com/index.php/forest/time-composites/

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New York Changing: Douglas Levere

“New York Changing, the current body of work by New York City photographer Douglas Levere, is a photographic record of the ever-changing landscape of New York City. Guided by Berenice Abbott’s 1930’s project Changing New York, Levere revisited neighborhoods and former storefronts, documenting the evolution of the metropolis known for constantly reinventing itself.

The paired images produce a remarkable commentary on the evolution of New York City over several decades and encourage the viewer to consider the rate and meaning of progress. This juxtaposition of the past and present comes with obvious changes: the brownstone becomes a housing project, the neighborhood store becomes a skyscraper. Often, however, the encounter results in a more subtle reflection of the changing tides of our culture.

A chance glimpse at Abbott’s “Broadway near Broome Street” in Manhattan launched Levere’s project. As it happened, the location of the photograph was the doorstep of Levere’s SoHo loft. “It was the view I see walking out of my door every day,” Levere said. “I was mesmerized.” In an instant, the contrast between Abbott’s photograph and the image in his mind spoke volumes about the history of his neighborhood, and the people who had made their lives in New York City. Levere, a University at Buffalo graduate and Manhattan-based freelance photographer, has spent much of the last six years researching, planning, and scouting these rephotographs. With meticulous attention to detail, he duplicated the composition, techniques, and even used Abbott’s own large format camera. Each shot was taken at the same time of year and same time of day as Abbott’s, even, in one location, waiting for the hands on an outdoor clock to move to the same minute before releasing the shutter.” 

http://www.newyorkchanging.com/nychanging/index.html

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The collaborative works of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe

“Klett and Wolfe take a playful look at rephotography—a tool used in scientific research as a means of tracking elemental change in the environment by taking photographs from the same precise locations over time. Instead of presenting older and newer images as a continuum to show evidence of change, the duo place the historical image directly over their new photograph of the old location, thereby hiding the very information rephotography would normally provide. By doing this, they also create an entirely new landscape, one in which a window into the past has been opened and time passing can be seen as only part of the story.

Using landscape photography to reflect on broader notions of culture, the passage of time, and the construction of perception, photographers Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe spent five years exploring the Grand Canyon for their most recent project, Reconstructing the View. The team’s landscape photographs are based on the practice of rephotography, in which they identify sites of historic photographs and make new photographs of those precise locations. Klett and Wolfe referenced a wealth of images of the canyon, ranging from historical photographs and drawings by William Bell and William Henry Holmes, to well-known artworks by Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, and from souvenir postcards to contemporary digital images drawn from Flickr. The pair then employed digital postproduction methods to bring the original images into dialogue with their own. The result is this stunning volume, illustrated with a wealth of full-color illustrations that attest to the role photographers—both anonymous and great—have played in picturing American places.”

http://www.klettandwolfe.com

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Looking at the work from these photographers its apparent that to be completely successful I need to shoot with 100% precision and care to get the exact same dimensions, framing, angle etc as the original photo else it just shall not work. They have also given me confidence to try different styles of rephotography- using colour and black and white, using the original in the modern photo or just plain direct copies. These three styles are all very successful in their own way and have encouraged me to be experimental with my post-production work after shooting with precision as well as when on location. I have chosen to use digital rather than film (how images were first shot) to shoot my project for I do not feel this will jeopardise the success of this project rather enhance it, as I want to visually demonstrate how far the estate has come, (like film to digital) as Escot has grown and expanded with the times just as technology has.

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