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HOW TO CREATE A HISTORICAL PICTURE “THEN NOW” AND ANIMATED GIF

Then-and-now images are much more than just a funny picture. They allow you to visually show how a place has changed over time, which is why such photos are an interesting way to feel the connection with history. Photographer Marie Gardiner in the article describes how to create a photo in a similar style and turn it into an animated GIF. Let’s find out the details.

Choose a location and find a photo

You need to analyze what place, structure and landscape will be useful for your project. That is, if the place is currently not much different from the type in which it was in the photo before, then this is, of course, an interesting fact, but not too suitable for animated photography, which focuses on a direct comparison of the appearance of objects.

Look for a place that today still has some obvious architectural or geographical features. It can be original buildings and other “time anchors”, for example, fountains or streets of some special noteworthy form.

How to create a historical picture
Grindon Hall, 1920s

Grindon Hall – archival photo. The building has changed many times since then – it was a manor, an infectious disease center, and most recently it became a free school. The most remarkable thing about this building is that many original elements of its architecture have been preserved, although the building has been completed and expanded.

The photo was taken around the 1920s. Then in his appearance, for example, there were even figures of lions.

How to make an original image digital

The best way to digitize an image is to use a scanner capable of making high-resolution copies. Before using the scanner glass, clean the scanner glass with a special cloth and optics cleaner, for example, to ensure that no dust or fingerprints remain on the surface. If you do not have a scanner, do not worry, you can make a good copy of the image using a digital camera. Try to take a picture strictly perpendicular to the archive photograph and make sure that there are no glare, strange angles or folds on it.

How to make a modern photo of the right place

You have already figured out which object you want to photograph, so your task is only to photograph it so that it is easy to combine these two objects in a future animated picture.

Take the archived image or a copy of it with you. When you select a shooting point for a new image, try to choose the ideal distance and pay attention to the landmarks in the frame, as well as such things as the tilt of the roof and the location of the windows: they will all be certain markers that will help you later compare the two images.

How to create a historical picture
Carefully study the corners and features of the building

Some landmark markers for the modern image are highlighted in white in the photo. Elements such as chimneys and columns still exist, so it’s convenient to use them in this role. Pay attention also to the angle of the roof, which should help you assess the distance and perspective.

Try using a lens that will not deform the frame elements too much. Avoid wide-angle lens – with it you can get some distortion and the “barrel effect”. Of course, you can fix this in post-processing, but it is always better to do everything as accurately as possible from the very beginning and not count on it at all.

Although not a fact that there will be such an opportunity, but still try to meet the lighting conditions from the old picture. It is not always easy to judge the light in an old photograph, but start from the shadows and where and how the light falls, and try to reproduce it, taking it as close to the time of day as the original image.

How to create a historical picture
Modern view of Grindon Hall

This is a modern version of the snapshot mentioned at the beginning of the article. Although some details are slightly different, it is still clear that this is the same place.

How to combine images

Most likely, you will not have the desire to retouch the modern picture too much, so if necessary, just make basic color and contrast adjustments to it.

Then open the archive image as the bottom (or background) layer and pull out the modern one (remember to convert it from the raster to a smart object for the correct resizing). Use the Opacity slider to lower the transparency of a modern image.

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