Virtual Repeat Photography in Sichuan
In my previous post, I mentioned that attempts to do historical-current repeat photography to facilitate environmental history research might benefit from crowdsourcing.
After Stevan Harrell brought that post to the attention of his colleague at the University of Washington, Daniel Abramson, Dan provided photos that he took of what remains of the bridge in L-526 of the Lowdermilk Collection in 2011 in Sichuan Province 四川省’s Bailuzhen 白鹿镇. (You can find it here.)
The bridge, as Dan pointed out, has become a site commemorating its survival in the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake and, as he also noted, “there are a million tourist photos of this bridge over the past decade by now.” The existence of all those pictures online, he wrote, would make it much easier to find a more exact repeat viewpoint.
After corresponding with Dan, I took to baidu.com and did a quick search for images of the bridge. A few minutes later, I had found a few images that align quite nicely (though not precisely) with the viewpoint of the 1943 Lowdermilk image.
The takeaway is that, at least in the case of easily-identifiable places that have become popular tourist sites, internet image searches can be an extremely useful way of doing repeat photography research when fieldwork is not possible.