Merging Time returns to the City of Vancouver Archives’ gallery

The newest Merging Time exhibit is now on display in the City of Vancouver Archives’ gallery. Since its initial showing at the Archives three years ago, this annual photography exhibit has become an attraction for both historians and photographers alike. This year, the exhibit features 16 new digital interpretations of our scanned archival photographs.

The creators of this year’s Merging Time show: Langara’s Professional Photo-Imaging Class of 2015.

The creators of this year’s Merging Time show: Langara’s Professional Photo-Imaging Class of 2015.

Every year, students in Darren Bernaerdt’s Principles of Imaging Processing course (PHOTO 1248) are assigned to visit the Archives to find historical photographs of Vancouver. After determining the exact location and perspective of each selected photograph, they travel to the original site to replicate the photographs with a digital SLR camera. This year’s students chose a selection of street scenes of downtown Vancouver from the 1890s to 1940s.

Archival photograph selected by Michelle MacDonald for the Merging Time assignment. Granville Street looking north from Robson Street, 1900s. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Str P32.

Archival photograph selected by Michelle MacDonald for the Merging Time assignment. Granville Street looking north from Robson Street, 1900s. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Str P32.

It goes without saying that the historical scenes are very difficult to replicate. More often than not, the original images were photographed from vantage points that are no longer accessible due to relocation of sidewalks or the construction of new buildings that obstruct views.

Digital composite by Michelle MacDonald, 1900s/2014. Granville Street looking north from Robson Street, incorporating City of Vancouver Archives image AM54-S4-: Str P32.

Digital composite by Michelle MacDonald, 1900s/2014. Granville Street looking north from Robson Street, incorporating City of Vancouver Archives image AM54-S4-: Str P32.

Nonetheless, the obstacles are overcome by using digital imaging techniques. Students edit the photos on the computer by skewing, distorting, and twisting the images to replicate the focal length and angle of the original archival photograph. Students then mask and retouch the old and new photographs, merging past and present elements into a seamless digital composite, contrasting old and new.

Archival photograph selected by Warin Rychkun for the Merging Time assignment. View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street, showing the Sun Tower, 1927s. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Str N164.

Archival photograph selected by Warin Rychkun for the Merging Time assignment. View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street, showing the Sun Tower, 1927s. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Str N164.

Upon viewing these photographs, one notices immediately the buildings and structures that still stand today. Looking closer, the photographs reveal elements that no longer exist. Formal attire, street cars, horse drawn carriages, and old fashioned street fixtures are things of the past, but these heritage buildings provide us with anchors to that era. These photographs bring to life what Vancouver used to be, and remind us of the city’s rich heritage, history and growth.

Digital composite by Warin Rychkun, 1927/2014. View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street, showing the Sun Tower, incorporating City of Vancouver Archives image AM54-S4-: Str N164.

Digital composite by Warin Rychkun, 1927/2014. View of Pender Street east of Cambie Street, showing the Sun Tower, incorporating City of Vancouver Archives image AM54-S4-: Str N164.

Merging Time will be on display weekdays from 9 AM to 5 PM at the City of Vancouver Archives’ gallery until February 27th, 2015.

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