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July 26, 2013

Cape Town – then and now

Local photographer and panorama fundi Paul Bruins recently contacted us about a great project he was involved in – recreating a panorama of the Cape Town city centre, as it was captured back in 1884!

Here's Paul's story:

"I was recently commissioned to recreate a panorama of Cape Town and Table Mountain, which was captured from Signal Hill in 1884 by WFH Pocock.

"Not only did the brief require me to recapture the panorama from the exact same vantage point as the original, but I also had to find the current owner of the original prints (now in the possession of John Rennie), scan the photos, and then hand-stitch them into one seamless panorama (the original four photos had no overlap). And since there was a fair amount of dust, hairs and scratches on the originals, I also had to spend a couple of hours cleaning everything up after stitching the panorama.

The view of Cape Town's central business district, as photographed from the slope of Signal Hill in 1884 by WFH Pocock

"Fortunately I managed to find the exact same spot where the original photos were captured, so I was able to shoot my modern version of Mr Pocock's amazing 1884 panorama. And fortunately I correctly guessed the focal length that was used to capture the original photos, so my panorama came out looking almost exactly the same as the original.

A perfect recreation of the 1884 photo, taken in 2013 by Paul Bruins

"Then I had this crazy idea to morph the two panoramas from the earlier one into the current one, to better visualize how much the city had grown over the last 129 years. When you watch the video you'll be able to see how the original waterfront was filled in during 1945, to build a new harbour and to provide an additional 400 acres of land for the development of central business district. You'll also notice the rapid growth of Cape Town's suburban district up the slopes of Table Mountain."

You can view the video in full HD quality here (and we recommend you watch it in fullscreen!):

You can also see a portion of the original 1884 panorama on Paul's Flickr profile.

This post was first published on March 13th 2013.

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