Merging Time: Past & Present Combined

Merging Time, an exhibit created by the students of Langara College’s Professional Photography program, has returned to the Archives gallery space. It is an exhibit that merges a photograph from the Archives holdings with a newly-shot image of the same scene. This year, there are nineteen of these past-and-present combined images adorning the gallery walls.

Archives photograph selected by Luc Frost for the Merging Time exhibit. Hastings Street looking towards Cambie Street intersection, ca. 1913. Reference code: AM1376-: CVA 220-10

Digital composite by Luc Frost incorporating Archives image AM1376-: CVA 220-10

The creation of the merged images may look effortless and seamless, but don’t be fooled. The first challenge for these students is finding the locations from which the original photographs were shot. Getting a new shot with their dSLR cameras from the same perspective can be tricky, as buildings, construction, or other barriers that didn’t exist in the past may block or obscure today’s views of the original scenes. Even the height of the original photographer can make getting a similar shot a challenge.

Archives photograph selected by Kessa McGowan for Merging Time exhibit. Interior of St.Paul’s Church on Jervis Street, 1910. Reference code: AM54-S4-: Ch P47.2

Once suitable present-day shots have been taken, they are manipulated to match the focal length and angle of the original photographs. Through this editing process, the students choose what parts of the two images to blend and merge. The results are an insightful and fascinating look into how Vancouver’s landscape has shifted, or stayed the same over time.

Digital composite by Kessa McGowan incorporating Archives image AM54-S4-: Ch P47.2

This year’s selection of original photographs date from 1900 to 1948, and include downtown buildings and streets, churches, English Bay, and the Lions Gate Bridge.

The Archives Gallery is open to the public 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Merging Time will be showcased until the end of February. The images are also available on Flickr.

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