With no viewfinder to speak of, the challenge of a panoramic swing lens, and the extremely wide field of view, re-photographing an historical photograph with the Kodak Panoram no. 1 is not a straight forward task. My usual method to repeat a photograph is to use the grid method, which we developed while working on the Rocky Mountain Repeat Photography project in 2004 (now the Mountain Legacy Project). However, in that project, we knew the centre of the image. We placed a grid screen in the camera viewfinder, which we duplicated in digital formate to lay onto our historical scanned images. By working back and forth between the digital print out of the historical image with a grid laid over it, and the grid in the camera viewfinder, we were able to make camera adjustments in the field.
In the case of the Panoram repeat, this method (even modified) was limited, so I decided to employ a method developed by Malde (1973) and expanded upon by Harrison (1974) to re-establish the location of the camera station. In this method we select prominent points in the historical image and then make measurements to compare to those in our daily repeat. Harrison selected four, but my field assistant David has selected a greater number for our calculations. Rather than use a grid that is connected to a frame, we use this method as it connects prominent points in the landscape. In short, we connect the grid to objects specifically in the photograph. This method verifies decision making about camera movements that might be more qualitative and provides more information to decide camera movements (including right or left, forward or back, up or down, tilt and pivot).
Historically photographers have used Polaroid in this method. They would shoot the image using a Polaroid back and onto polaroid film, draw on the lines, measure and then move the tripod, continuing until they had closely located the camera position. Then they could switch to a film back (without moving the camera out of the spot) and they could make their image. All of this would happen in the field. More recently, and with the demise of Polaroid, increasingly, photographers are modifying the method to use computers. While I was fortunate to have the historical camera to work with, this modification was not helpful. There is no digital back available for the Panoram no. 1, and to use a digital point and shoot to calculate a location is tricky because of the nature of the Panoram lens. Therefore, this modification would not provide solid information.
And so we shoot the image, I develop the film in my makeshift darkroom, scan it and print it. David does the calculations on the scanned file and the results combined with a qualitative assessment allows for resolutions for the next camera position.