Audio: Langara photo students test their Photoshop mettle in time-travelling photos of Vancouver

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Second-year photography student Michelle Macdonald created this image of Granville Street (Michelle Macdonald/Major James Skitt Matthews photos)
Second-year photography student Michelle Macdonald created this image of Granville Street (Michelle Macdonald/Major James Skitt Matthews photos)

Reported by Shannon Lynch

It’s not quite time travel, but it’s close.

Merging Time blends Vancouver’s history and modernity into one striking image which aims to show the vivid contrast between the city’s past and present using Photoshop expertise.

On Oct. 29, the City of Vancouver Archives held a reception where Langara’s second year professional photography students showcased their Merging Time photos.

An embodiment of two years’ work

Department chair of the professional photography program and Photoshop instructor Darren Bernaerdt, said Merging Time “is the embodiment of everything [students] have done in those two years.”

The major photography assignment started in 2011 and asked students to choose images taken in 1949 or earlier, go to that exact location in the city and take a modern day equivalent. Students had to wait for the right time of day to shoot the photo in the right light to match the old photos as closely as possible. Bernaerdt said Photoshop then allowed them “to precisely match the perspective.”

Bernaerdt’s inspiration for Merging Time stemmed from the photography website, My Modern Met. On the site, he had seen a World War II photo combined with a modern image.

“It was the beginning of this idea, showing old and new together in one image,” said Bernaerdt.

Images based on local landmarks

Second year professional photography student Tim Nguyen hopes that people who grew up in Vancouver looking at the images will “perhaps reflect on future planning and preserving historical landmarks.”
Second year professional photography student Tim Nguyen hopes that people who grew up in Vancouver looking at the images will “perhaps reflect on future planning and preserving historical landmarks.”

Tim Nguyen chose an image of streetcar tracks being built on the corner of West Hastings Street and what is now Main Street. Nguyen hopes that people who grew up in Vancouver looking at the images will “perhaps reflect on future planning and preserving historical landmarks.”

Second year professional photography student Andrea Silvestre, photographed Gastown’s iconic flatiron building, the Hotel Europe because it’s a significant landmark in Vancouver and “punchy”.

“The landmark stays the same but everything around it changes, and that’s the whole concept of the assignment,” she said. “You take something that we all recognize and show how it’s changed over how many decades.”

The Merging Time photos will be on display at the Archives until the end of February.

Langara voice reporter Shannon Lynch sat down with photography department chair Darren Bernaerdt to discuss the inspiration and process behind the project:

View the entire class of 2015 set on Flickr or in-person at the City of Vancouver Archives. Sets from previous years: 2014, 2013, 2012.

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