Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dayton (Amateur) Rephotography

The Dayton Metro Library has an interesting online collection of photographs of old Dayton, the Lutzenberger Collection.

The collection was created by William Lutzenberger. Apparently Lutzenberger photographed the city through the later 19th and early 20th century, capturing a lot of the changes downtown. The collection also has photos and images that pre-date Lutzenberger, but that he apparently acquired somehow.

The collection is a community treasure.

And I've been working with the collection on and off, experimenting with rephotography.

Rephotography is more than "before & after" pix as it requires close study of the original image so as to match the technical characteristics of the original camera position, exposure, depth of field, lens, etc, and lighting conditions arising from time of day and time of year (winter afternoon low sun would be different than high noon in the summer).

Another unwritten rule is to chose an image that has something of the original image still in it.

In a sense rephotography is almost a form of conceptual art.

This type of photography got started in the western US, via the Rephotography Survey Project, organized by Mark Klett, and published as “Second View” . Klett and his team rephotographed 19th century federal land survey images of the western landscape. Klett returned to the same locations some years later and then rephotograped them a second time (published as “Third View”). Here is some interesting blog commentary on Klett and his project.

From what I recall many of these were rural/wilderness images. Rephotography is being done in urban areas, too; one of the better known examples is New York Changing by Douglas Lavere (rephotographing Springfield, Ohio native Bernice Abbot’s Changing New York)

For Dayton, it’s tough to exactly duplicate Lutzenberger as he made his own camera and ground his own lenses (or had them ground to his specification). Pro photographers or serious amateurs might be able to duplicate the images better, but this is beyond my competence as a snapshooter.

Lutzenberger photographed on quite times, usually on Sunday when there was little “traffic” (so he could position himself in the middle of a street).

Another issue is the changing landscape. Much of what Lutzenberger shot is now gone…not just the individual buildings, but entire streetscapes and blocks.

So what I am doing is not strictly rephotography, though do I try to match the images as much as possible. Here are two examples:

From this month, the southeast corner of 2nd and Jefferson.

From a year ago: northwest corner of 1st and Keowee

I will be posting more sets every so often


jhunterj said...

Very nice! I'm looking forward to the future entries...

kevin said...

As will I.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to seeing your project take off. I'd like to add it to my rephotography blogroll if that' ok with you.

Russ Friedewald
Springfield Rewind