Saturday, May 31, 2014

Photo Walk : Retake The Vintage Shot


Around a year ago, I was very impressed by the work of Shawn Clover. He managed to blend old photos of San Francisco 1906 earthquake with his own shot and put them into a dreamy look contrasting the two scene happened at the same place but separated by 100+ years time. Take a look at his Fade to 1906 here and here.

This afternoon I conduct a feasibility study to make a "me too" attempt, using my hometown as subject matter. I collect many iconic images of Bandung from the internet, taken around 1920-1940. I drop those photos that doesn't have high enough resolution, yielding around 15 - 20 photos. The goal of this study is to evaluate the feasibility to retake those shots today as accurate as possible, given the environmental changes happened in the last 90-100 years.

The challenges are :
  1. Find the exact standing position where the original photograph was taken
  2. Guess the focal length of the lens being used. Those photos was taken before the invention of zoom lens. I guess it would be 35mm or 50mm.
  3. Find the exact camera height and tilt angle to create the same perspective view. This step only possible after the two previous step has been done right.
I treat the third step as low priority. It would take too great effort and time for a single afternoon photowalk.
Here are what I've got ...

Savoy Homann Hotel

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 35mm

I found that the original photo was taken from behind the fence of Gedung Merdeka (Societeit Concordia). It is several meter behind my current position and slightly raised. It takes special permit to enter the Gedung Merdeka teritory, but I think it's manageble. Result : FEASIBLE


The Intersection of Grote Postweg and Bragaweg

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 35mm

I just realized that there should be another old building on the currently OCBC-NISP office. That's why that area is feel strange, doesn't blend with its neighbor. I take the shot using 35mm lens. I think the original was taken using 50mm. My standing position is on the public road area, so no permit required. Just be careful with the traffic. Result : FEASIBLE


Post en Telegraf Kantoor

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 50mm

This big building is now surrounded by crowds. I couldn't step back more, I stuck on the pedestrian crossing bridge behind me. Result : NOT FEASIBLE

Escompto Maatschappij Kantoor (south view)

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 35mm
The original photo is very old, I guess from around 1910s. There should be another vintage building on the right side, but that even hasn't built yet.
By comparing the proportion, I think I've used the correct focal length, 35mm. The angle is not identical, I should move to the right and raised upward. Unfortunately, that area is already become the new Grand Mosque. Result : NOT FEASIBLE


Escompto Maatschappij Kantoor (south-east view) 

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
This photograph is much later than the previous. The Post Kantoor in the background already renovated, it must be after 1931. On the right side of Escompto there's already another building. Unfortunately, today's view is completely blocked by the fence of the Grand Mosque. Result : NOT FEASIBLE

Van Dorp Store

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 50mm
I still don't get the position right. It should be from a lower angle and several step to the right toward the street. The area is open space, just be careful with the traffic. Result : FEASIBLE


Bogerijen - Bragaweg (north view)

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 35mm
I still don't get the position right. It would be on the third part of the street, against those cars. I should find the time when the traffic not too busy. But the possibilities are there. I've move around a little, even I could see that Bank Jabar tower as seen on the original photo. Result : FEASIBLE


Bogerijen - Bragaweg (south view)

courtesy of Tropenmuseum
D700 - 35mm
Today's view in Bragaweg, the Bogerijen building completely hidden behind the tree. Well, I could take the old Bogerijen with modern foreground. I think it would be interesting. Result : FEASIBLE


From the eight spot I visited today, it turns out only five is feasible to retake as accurate as possible with respect to the original. Given enough time, I think I could make something interesting from this.

31 May 2014