I just had a chance to look at a few examples from a new book on repeat photography in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Desert Laboratory Repeat Photography Collection – the largest archive of its kind in the world, according to an announcement from the USGS. [left photo: Boundary Monument 75E, Southeastern Arizona - 1893: A view of Monument 75 looking west toward the San Bernardino Valley and the Perilla Mountains. Cerro Gaillardo stands to the left of the monument. The vegetation is Chihuahuan Desert Grassland that has a scattering of shrubs within it. The smaller shrubs are probably broom snakeweed; the larger shrubs are velvet mesquite. Elev. 4,000 ft. Photo by D. R. Payne.
right photo, 2009, anti-vehicle barricade has been constructed across this section of the international boundary. Grass cover has increased in the foreground, providing evidence of the site’s grassland connection. Photo by Raymond M. Turner]
“Repeat Photography: Methods and Applications in the Natural Sciences,” is also a review of the state-of-the-art for this well-established technique.
The scientific technique of taking photographs from the same vantage point at different times is one of the earliest methods for documenting landscape change, getting its start with the monitoring of glacier retreat in Europe in the late 19th century.
This book explores the broad technical and geographic scope of the technique, focusing particularly on the intertwined influences of climatic variation and land-use practices in sculpting landscapes. It illustrates the wide scope of application, examines some new techniques for acquiring data from repeat photography, and demonstrates that this remains a valuable and cost-effective means for monitoring future changes, particularly in developing countries.
A product of the USGS’ project on landscape change in the southwestern United States, based in Tucson, the book was edited Robert H. Webb, hydrologist; Diane E. Boyer, photo archivist; and Raymond M. Turner, botanist. Published by Island Press, it includes contributions by several other USGS scientists as well as other practitioners of repeat photography from around the world.