Then and now again…..
I posted the following on NelsonPhotoForums in 2006. I am repeating it here in the hope that it may be interesting to those readers who have not seen it there. Being England, not much has changed in the last ten years, so these scenes look pretty much the same as they did in 2004. I really must get out more and do more….of this.
Then and Now
My Best Beloved and I have had great fun seeking out the locations depicted in old photographs that were taken in Hertfordshire many years ago, and photographing the same scene as it is today. The local library or town archive is usually a good source of old photographs, and is the first place that I look. Locating the town or village where the photograph was taken is usually not a problem, and finding the same street or place in the old photograph is both interesting and satisfying. Reproducing the same scene may sound simple to do, but determining the same perspective, angle of view and precise spot as used in the original photograph can be challenging, especially when the original was taken from spot that is now in the middle of a busy street - the traffic was far less intimidating in times past. Modern motor cars are an intrusion that spoil many scenes today, and are difficult to avoid unless one has the time and dedication to return to the scene many times hoping for a better view.
Many old photographs were taken with medium or large format plate cameras and the angle of view and image magnification factor can be difficult to reproduce using modern 35mm equipment. I guess that the ultimate challenge would be to reproduce the same scene today using the same format and equipment as was used to photograph the original, if this can be determined without an original negative or that information being available. From a print, one can only make deductions.
Nevertheless, we do our best to show the scene as it is today. We use Olympus OM1n and OM2n 35mm bodies with whichever prime Zuiko lens seems appropriate, from 28mm to 100mm. The film is Fuji Superia 200 color negative, scanned on a Minolta Dimage 5400 film scanner and converted to monochrome in Photoshop using the channel mixer. Because the original photographs were sometimes taken on orthochromatic film, the channel mixer gives the easiest method of reproducing similar tones, rather than just converting to grayscale.
Here are some of the shots that we have done so far. Many of the original photographs date from the 1920s & 1950s - I wish that they had been taken earlier. The older the original, the more interesting the comparison.