The popular photography exhibit, Merging Time, is now showing at the City of Vancouver Archives gallery. This year’s collection features 13 new “now-and-then” interpretations of images from the Archives holdings.
Every fall, the Archives features new works created by students in Langara College’s Photo-Imaging Program. Students are assigned to visit the Archives to find photographs with unique elements defining the past, such as fashion, transportation, advertising, and storefront signage. Then, with a DSLR camera, they return to the original location of the archival photograph to shoot a modern-day version. The students merge a digital version of the archival photograph with the modern-day replication to produce a composite of the past and present. This year’s selections date from the 1900s to the 1950s, and feature the West End, Gastown, Chinatown, downtown Vancouver, UBC and Mount Pleasant.
The main challenge the students face is figuring out where and how each photograph was taken. Sometimes the original photograph may have been taken with the camera in the middle of the road or where a new building now stands. Determining the focal length and angle of the shot further complicates the process of matching the current-day image with the original perspective. This is where the techniques taught in the course come into play. Using Photoshop, the students adjust the perspective of their modern-day image to match the framing and composition of the original archival photograph.
Once the perspective is matched, students block, mask, blend and merge the past and present elements into a single photograph. The result is a seamless digital composite where the two eras converge and are presented simultaneously.
This returning photography show is the Archives’ most popular exhibit, and we are always thrilled to see how artists apply their creative skills to the digitized material in our holdings.
Merging Time: A Modern Perspective will be on display at the Archives until the end of January, 2016. Please visit during our regular hours: Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM.
For those who are unable to attend the gallery in person, you can view the Merging Time exhibit in this Langara College flickr album.