Repeat landscape photography, historical ecology and the wonder of digital archives in Southern Africa

Richard Rohde, Samantha Scott, Timm Hoffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Environmental history projects using repeat photography often involve the acquisition of large collections of historical and current images, matching those images for comparative analysis, and then cataloguing and archiving the imagery for long-term storage and later use (Webb et al., 2010). When used in combination with other techniques, repeat photography is an excellent tool for documenting change (Gruell, 2010) and has been used in a variety of disciplines, including historical ecology, to determine changes in plant populations, soil erosion, climate trends and ecological processes to name a few. Historical photographs often provide greater temporal range to an analysis compared to, for example, satellite imagery and in many cases even aerial photography (Gruell, 2010). In addition to archival photographs, historical paintings, expedition notes and documents provide additional insights to the causes of change at specific repeat photo site locations and across regions as they can provide additional information on past environments, land use practices and changing social contexts (Webb et al., 2010). In this paper, we: 1) provide a brief history of photography and photographic archives in southern Africa; 2) discuss the use of historical photographs in environmental history research; and 3) highlight the value of involving citizen scientists in repeat photography projects
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages13
JournalAfrican Research and Documentation
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2018

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Repeat Photography
  • Historical ecology
  • rePhotoSA


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