Restaging old photos

Author
by Simon C
Publish date
20 November 2013
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Simon is a presenter with MV’s Outreach Program. He travels all over metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria in one of our two Outreach vans with a dinosaur sticker on the side. You should give the vans a toot if you see them.

There is a photography saying that claims that the best camera is the one you have with you.

Outreach van in the stars The Museum Victoria Outreach Program van under the stars.
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It seems obvious, then, to take my best camera with me when traveling around Victoria delivering the museum's Outreach Program. First I took some pictures of our Outreach van against the starry sky and then our team had the great idea of searching our collections for objects connected to the regions we were going to. With a quick search of MV Collections Online I would be armed with a handful of photographs from yesteryear to re-stage.

Castlemaine Post Office, 1894 Castlemaine Post Office, 1894. (MM 004334)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Castlemaine Post Office, 2013 Castlemaine Post Office, 2013
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

These photographs are from my recent trip to Castlemaine and they proved tricky to find. During my hunt I approached a local gentleman, Brian Cornish, who looked over all the photos but could only place one - the State Electricity Commission building. Directions memorised, I jumped in the van and found it straight away. I had just taken my first picture when Brian reappeared in his car. He had remembered the locations of the other pictures and beckoned me to follow him in convoy. Half an hour later, handshakes and thanks were exchanged and I was on my way with three pictures in the bag - or at least in-camera, on-card. 

State Electricity Commission building, Castlemaine, 1949. State Electricity Commission building, Castlemaine, 1949. (MM 011468)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Castlemaine State Electricity Commission Castlemaine State Electricity Commission building in 2013. The Outreach Van is parked around the corner.
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The original pictures were taken on glass plate negatives using a large-format box camera, just like the one you might imagine: on a tripod with the photographer under a heavy black cloth at the back, only without the handheld puff of flash powder. Both the tripod and box would have been weighty and cumbersome,  and in addition, the light-sensitive, heavy glass plates would be carried in a sealed box of their own. Not like our own pocket-sized versions. All this would make the photographer very picky about what they photograph. 

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 1894 Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 1894.(MM 004338)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 2013 Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 2013
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

(Speaking of picky, this is the closest I could get to the original photo as the geography has changed since.)

You can catch the some of the Outreach team and their treasures at the RACV Energy Breakthrough Festival on Saturday 23 November in Maryborough.

Comments (4)

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Alice 20 November, 2013 13:08
Beautiful shots and great concept. Castlemaine is dear to my heart so I love these pics but would be keen to see other towns too. Thanks.
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Simon 22 November, 2013 14:37
Hello Alice, Thank you for your kind words. You should look in the MV Collections to see if you recognise any other images from Castlemaine. You may spot more locations that you know. Simon
Jenni 22 November, 2013 09:35
Great pics! Enjoyed the lovely story of the very helpful Brian as well.
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Lee-Anne 22 November, 2013 15:31
These are great Simon and what a great experience too, well done. Castlemaine is one of the prettiest towns in Victoria still with some enduring landmarks it seems.
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