Documenting change through repeat photography in Southeast Alaska

This report highlights historical photographs of Southeast Alaska from a variety of archives.  It focuses on repeat photography, the act of retaking historical photos and juxtaposing them with the originals in order to see changes in the land over time.  Not only does this report cover most of Southeast Alaska, it also offers insights into the past and future of photographic documentation.

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From the Introduction:

Carefully framed retakes of historical photographs are well suited for monitoring, documenting and interpreting vegetation and landform change in response to natural or human disturbances. Although little repeat photography (RP) work has been done in Southeast Alaska, the region offers excellent opportunities. Due to glacial, tectonic, climatic, and anthropogenic processes, many areas of Southeast Alaska are undergoing clear, rapid change. A good variety of air-, ground-, and water-based historical photos provide baseline points for measuring and illustrating this change.
This has been a pilot repeat-photography study of selected sites in northern and central Southeast—a few examples from southern Southeast are included. We collected and catalogued historic photographs, then selected and retook a subset of these. Our repeat photos give information about vegetation and geomorphic change in response to disturbance types, including:
• glacial rebound; raised former tideland
• long-term climate change
• deglaciation; primary succession
• fluvial dynamics; erosion & deposition
• blowdown; wind-throw versus wind-snap
• fire; defining the borders of our bioregion
• town, mill and cannery site abandonment
• mine-related disturbances
• logging; selective vs clearcut; alluvial vs upland