Stepping into the future
This blog was written by Heather Mager, a student who worked with our photographs for her A level photography project, merging old with new…
For my A level photography coursework, I picked the given title ‘Changing Landscapes’ out of the options available. I wanted to look into how my home town of Shrewsbury has changed through time. To do this, I could obviously take my own photographs of the present day, but I needed pictures to compare it to. This is where Shropshire Archives came in.
After browsing through the catalogue, I decided to use the Della Porta series of photographs as I could see that these were by far the best quality for their age, being from 1888. The Della Porta series was also the best bet as the photographs were accompanied by the address at which they were taken. The images themselves included enough of the buildings that once I was at the location it was usually obvious exactly where they were taken. It was fascinating comparing the old photographs to the actual location and seeing how little or how much had changed. The only times when it wasn’t obvious were when there had been significant work on the area with buildings having changed too much for them to be discernible, but that was rare.
I soon figured out that the part of the photograph I most liked comparing with the modern ones was the people. The style of people’s clothing is definitely the most obvious thing that has changed. Because of this, when I was taking photographs I tried to include passers by who had especially ‘modern’ clothes. These would be in the form of colourful patterns or more modern looking, shinier materials like a waterproof jacket. This change in style is what sets the modern photo from the archive photo, as well as the colour. Obviously, the past wasn’t actually in black and white, but I wanted to keep the contrast to emphasise the differences of the two times, to make it easier for people to be able to tell which photograph is which at a glance and also as I particularly liked the artistic effect this created.
Once I had the old and new photographs I needed to merge them together. I did this in Adobe Photoshop by overlapping the images and using a transform tool to line up the photos as well as I could. After this, it was a case of carefully erasing the parts of the archive photograph that I didn’t want, normally using a soft edged eraser tool, revealing the modern image so that the photographs could merge into each other with ease.
I like to think that the final photographs portray a sense of stepping into the future, with the shadows of the past watching on.