Deja View: Historic landscape "rephotos" (1800s, 1970s, 1990s)
June 15, 2007 6:15 AM   Subscribe

The Third View project is a fascinating presentation of "rephotographs" of over 100 historic landscape sites in the American West that presents original 19th-century survey photographs, photographed again in the 1970s, then once again in the '90s - from the original vantage points, under similar lighting conditions, at (roughly) the same time of day and year. [Flash, and you'll probably need to allow pop-ups; a little more info inside...]
posted by taz (13 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Some sites included here were not photographed in the 1970s for the original "Rephotographic Survey Project" and so include only two views, earliest and latest. The "Fieldnotes" section is a diary of the Thirdview photographers' experiences and observations that is worth perusing. An excerpt:
5:00 p.m: The filly is lying on her side, legs splayed stiffly out and just beginning to bloat. Her shoulder and knee are scraped raw where she was tumbled after being hit by a passing vehicle. Across the way a half-dozen horses gather behind a fence to watch us photograph her, one of their feral cousins. Wild horses are so common now in northern Nevada that they're foraging in daylight along the highways. I want to touch her, but instead walk away.

This part of the desert is being filled in quickly with a depressing mixture of small housing developments, mini-storage facilities, prisons, and toy ranches, a pattern of development as common to New Mexico as Nevada. Anywhere else in the country the change would be softened by vegetation and terrain; here it stands out on the arid flats like skin cancer. We're close to the old Pony Express route and the dead horse is a sharp metaphor of the head-on collision between Old West romanticism with millennial exurban sprawl. A few miles up the road on the outskirts of Dayton we pass a dead deer, then a skunk.
posted by taz at 6:15 AM on June 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Fantastic! Some of them are kinda sad - housing in front of great views - and some are great, where rivers have gone back to nature.
posted by notsnot at 6:42 AM on June 15, 2007

Brilliant...there was a lot of water around back then. The interface was annoying at first but I learned to love it.
posted by fire&wings at 7:05 AM on June 15, 2007

dang! I really like this site, and settled on it after waiting a long time to post my 100th fpp (yay! champagne! confetti!), and was hoping not to get next to a Bush/Religion/Paris Hilton or T&A post... but, just my luck - I end up under Obama jiggle pantyGirl.

posted by taz at 7:16 AM on June 15, 2007

Substance over sheen, taz. And this has substance.
posted by notsnot at 7:37 AM on June 15, 2007

I love stuff like this. Well done, taz.
posted by briank at 8:20 AM on June 15, 2007

I am very impressed and I didn't think I was going to be. The thoroughness of the project far outweighs any minor grumblings I might otherwise have about the flashy popuppy blippy presentation style. That's a remarkable and laudable project. Many thanks for this taz.

And wooo hoooo! ONE HUNDRED!! Henceforward this day shall be for ever known as tazday! Thank you for making this place just that little bit nicer.
posted by peacay at 8:27 AM on June 15, 2007

Thank you for making this place just that little bit a whole lot nicer.
[I does me own edits]
posted by peacay at 8:30 AM on June 15, 2007

This is really interesting- especially where levels of water are concerned. I know there was a drought in California in 76-77, so I'm curious if that's why so many of the 1979 photos of water are often much lower than the 1890 and 2000 photographs.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:16 AM on June 15, 2007

Awesome. I mean, really.
posted by From Bklyn at 10:20 AM on June 15, 2007

I bought a book that is based on this type of idea but focused solely on New Mexico. The author/photographer, William Stone, spent two years traveling around the state trying to recapture photos based on a collection of USGS photos he found in archives.

He did his best to find the exact spots and lenses used for the older photographs. At one point after he took a picture of one scene he saw an old brass USGS emblem pounded into the ground close to where his tripod was.

The book is New Mexico Then and Now by William Stone. The photographs are shown on facing pages, old and new, with accompanying text.
posted by Qubit at 10:33 AM on June 15, 2007

Very cool. Shame the interface spoils it; click to get a thumbnail in a popup, click again to activate the Flash, click again twice to see the two other thumbnails, and click yet again to get a nasty PDF with overcompressed embedded JPG's poor for both screen and printing.

posted by Freaky at 11:07 AM on June 15, 2007

I should point out that this project also has a book (here, too), with dvd, though I haven't seen it myself, so can't say how nice (or not) it is.
posted by taz at 11:17 AM on June 15, 2007

« Older Mike Gravel Rocks   |   The Incredible Shrinking World Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments