Rephotography is the act of repeat photography of the same site, with a time lag between the two images; a diachronic, "then and now" view of a particular area. Some are casual, usually taken from the same view point but without regard to season, lens coverage or framing. Some are very precise and involve a careful study of the original image.
Rephotography and photogrammetry in the sciences
Since the 1850s techniques were developed for surveying and scientific study, especially in systems (Paganini, 1880; Deville, 1889; Finsterwalder, 1890) of photogrammetry in which precise measurements made from triangulation of points in numbers of photographic records are made in order to track changes in ecological systems.
Rephotography continues to be used by the scientific world to record incremental or cyclical events (of erosion, or land rehabilitation, or glacier flow for example), or to measure the extent of sand banks in a river, or other phenomena which change slowly over time, and in gathering evidence of climate change.
Rephotography has also been a useful diachronic visual method for researchers in sociology and communication to understand social change. Three main approaches are common - photographs of places, participants, or activities, functions, or processes – with scholars examining elements of continuity. This method is advantageous to studying social change due to the capacity of cameras to record scenes with greater completeness and speed, to document detailed complexities at a single time, and to capture images in an unobtrusive manner. Repeat photographs offer "subtle cues about the changing character of social life". Upon analysis of elements of continuity within the images, researchers must be cautious to not make erroneous interpretations of change. Another closely related use of rephotography has been the political one made by Gustavo Germano in Argentina, who rephotographed family pictures of disappeared, thus making explicit both the missing people and the life that goes on.
Procedures and techniques
The accurate rephotographer usually determines several facts before taking a new image. An important starting point is the choice of the older image. To show continuity between the two images, rephotographers usually include in the frame a building or other object which is present in the modern view. Some urban scenes change so much that the original buildings shown have been completely obscured by subsequent skyscrapers, or have been demolished. A "then and now" photograph could be taken but there would be nothing in common to link the two images.
The vantage point from which the original photographer took the view may have disappeared over the years, so the rephotographer has to choose an original view for which the vantage point is still accessible, or arrange to rent equipment to duplicate the original position of the camera.
Through scrutiny of the original image, the rephotographer determines the season and the time of day from observation of the vegetation and the shadows shown. The best way to do this is to set up a camera at the original viewpoint, at approximately the right season and time, and wait with the original view in hand, until the shadows reach the same positions relative to surrounding objects. If done with extreme accuracy it should be possible to place one image over the other, and see the edges of buildings match exactly.
This type of rephotography can be seen in the McCord Museum of Canadian History's virtual exhibition "Urban Life through Two Lenses". It shows the nineteenth-century views of Montreal by William Notman, rephotographed by Andrzej Maciejewski in 2002. Another is Douglas Levere's project New York Changing; here Levere rephotographed 114 of Berenice Abbott's Changing New York images.
Mobile and computationally assisted digital rephotography
Smart phones, because they include both cameras and computing, have the potential to simplify the re-photography process. To date, examples of this include "computational rephotography", an approach that uses feature-matching and structure-from-motion to tell a photographer how to move so that the current view best matches the previous view, and "Collaborative Rephotography", which overlays the current view transparently over the original image to allow the photographer to line up elements of the scene before taking the picture. Specific projects include: re.photos, a webportal to create, browse, search, locate, rate, share, and discuss rephotographs; and Retake Melbourne, a crowd-participatory, crowd-funded, mobile app-enabled Deakin University project to rephotograph the fifty-year-old archive of Melbourne (Australia) streetscapes by Mark Strizic.
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- Photogrammetry—the art of making measurements using images—is the task of determining an object or its dimensions using photographs. Preliminary work on this problem was done by Lambert in what he referred to as "inverting the perspective" and by Beautemps-Beaupre (1791–1793). In surveying these methods were first tested by A. Laussedat (1852–59). Starting in 1855 I. Porro began developing instruments for photogrammetry. A. Meydenbauer brought architectural photogrammetry to high level. W. Jordan and C. Koppe approached the problem from the standpoint of geodesy, and G. Hauck approached it from a theoretical point of view. Photogrammetry was practiced on a large scale in Italy by L. P. Paganini since 1880 and in Canada by E. Deville since 1889. S. Finsterwalder has been doing aerial photogrammetry from balloons since 1890. C. Pulfrich has been using stereoscopy since 1890. A. Laussedat has collected material on the history of photographic methods and equipment." Finsterwalder, S. (1906) Photogrammetrie. In: Encyklopeidie der Mathematischen Wissenschaften mit Einschluft ihrer Anwendungen. Band VI, Teil1, Geodesie und Geophysik. Leipzig: B.G. Teubner 1906–1925. pp. 98–116.
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- Fagre, D. B. and McKeon, L. A. (2010) 'Documenting disappearing glaciers: Repeat photography at Glacier National Park, Montana, USA', Repeat Photography: Methods and Applications in the Natural Sciences. Covelo, CA: Island Press.
- Webb, Robert H. (1996) Grand Canyon, a Century of Change: Rephotography of the 1889–1890 Stanton Expedition. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.
- Munroe, Jeffrey S. (November 2003). "Estimates of Little Ice Age Climate Inferred through Historical Rephotography, Northern Uinta Mountains, U.S.A". Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research. 35 (4): 489–498. doi:10.1657/1523-0430(2003)035[0489:eoliac]2.0.co;2. ISSN 1523-0430. S2CID 73543439.
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- Handley, William R. (2019-09-24). "Re-Viewing Western U.S. Rephotography in the Anthropocene". KronoScope. 19 (2): 153–187. doi:10.1163/15685241-12341441. ISSN 1567-715X. S2CID 204523113.
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- For diverse examples see Framing Time And Place: Repeats & Returns In Photography Conference, University of Plymouth Time and Place Information (2).pdf Framing Time And Place: Repeats & Returns In Photography Conference, University of Plymouth.
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- "Urban Life through Two Lenses". www.mccord-museum.qc.ca.
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Guided by Berenice Abbott's 1930s portrait of Changing New York (1939), Douglas Levere returned to the same locations at the same time of day and the same time of year, documenting the evolution of the metropolis ... project New York Changing, 1998.
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- Soonmin Bae, Aseem Agarwala, Fredo Durand. "Computational Re-Photography", ACM Transactions on Graphics (Presented at SIGGRAPH Asia 2010), 29(3), pp. 1–24. 
- "Collaborative rephotography", Ruth West, Abby Halley, Daniel Gordon, Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne, Robert Pless, In ACM SIGGRAPH 2013 Studio Talks, pp. 20, 2013.
- Schaffland, A., Vornberger, O., and Heidemann, G. (2019). An Interactive Web Application for the Creation, Organization, and Visualization of Repeat Photographs. Proceedings of the 1st SUMAC Workshop @ ACM Multimedia 2019
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