Queen Street Through Time: Using Photoshop to Create Then and Now Images

Posted June 25, 2018 2:57 pm by Niki Harratt under Queen Street

In our latest blog post, Queen Street volunteer Gabriella De Rosa explains how we used Photoshop to create effective then and now images of Wolverhampton’s historic Queen Street.

Wolverhampton’s Queen Street retains many of its historic buildings. While the various owners and occupiers have changed over time, many of the architectural details have endured. As part of the Queen Street Heritage Project, a group of local volunteers used Photoshop to blend old photographs of Queen Street with photographs of the current streetscape.

We began by using the Black Country History online catalogue to research old photographs of Queen Street and made several trips to Wolverhampton City Archives to view their fantastic photographic collection. Fortunately, there are numerous photographs of Queen Street taken over the course of the late-19th and 20th century.

Armed with a selection of our favourite photographs, we visited Queen Street and tried to recapture the photographs, taking great care to match the positioning and angles as closely as possible.

‘A brief clip featuring some of our volunteers photographing buildings of historic interest in Wolverhampton’s Queen Street.’

‘Queen Street volunteers recreating the original photographs.’

‘Queen Street volunteers recreating a photograph of the Army Recruiting Office.’

Back at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, we used Photoshop to layer the new photographs over the top of the original images. We carefully blended the two photographs together to create effective then and now images.

‘The volunteers began by importing the original image into Photoshop. Here you can see Queen Street looking down towards the Queen’s Building in the 1970s.’

‘Volunteers then layered the current streetscape photograph over the top of the original photograph. The image is carefully resized and repositioned to match the street-line as closely as possible.’

‘In this clip, you can see how we created our Queen Street then and now images.’

You can present the same photographs in various ways depending on the area you want to highlight.

‘A finished example of this process. The edited images stretches down Queen Street towards the Queen’s Building in the 1970s.’

‘The same photographs as used above but with different sections highlighted.’

We also used colour to contrast between old and the new.

‘Edited image depicting 19-21 Queen Street layered over the current streetscape.’

‘Here is an example of the north side of the street in the early-20th century blended with the current streetscape.’

There are numerous buildings in Queen Street that have not changed a great deal over time. In these instances, we focused on the details in the photographs such as the people and transport to illustrate the passing of time.

‘The facade of number 50 Queen Street has changed very little over the years. In this edited image, volunteers used the people in the street to illustrate the passing of time.’

‘Edited image depicting 46 Queen Street in the mid-20th century layered over the current streetscape.’

We also created brief animations which show the current streetscape gradually fading into the old photograph.

‘An animation depicting the current streetscape gradually fading into a photograph of Queen Street in the early-20th century.’

You can see the final results of our image blending on our Facebook page. Thank you to our friends at Wolverhampton City Archive for providing access to their fantastic photographic collection and thank you to local photograph Dave Clare for providing additional Queen Street photographs.

A selection of the then and now photographs are on display in the ‘Walk Along Queen Street’ exhibition which runs until October 2018 at Wolverhampton Art Gallery.