The National Archives introduces an exciting new way to use our historic photograph collections! History Happens Here! augments reality and combines the old with the new in the same frame, giving the viewer a unique perspective on how our country has evolved over time.
For those of us who are familiar with the latest in tech-y ideas, augmented reality is a live, direct view of the world where the physical environment is modified by some kind of technology. This could be anything from a Google map on your iPhone that displays the closest gas stations or 3-D graphics in a video game. In a low-tech way, History Happens Here! invites you to create your own augmented reality by introducing a historic photo into your current world. The effect can be astounding:
Here’s how the project works:
We have already gone through some of our most iconic photos of memorable events, national landmarks, and historic buildings and compiled them in our photostream on Flickr. This set includes images of places in major cities, National Parks, and nationally recognizable buildings.
First, find a photo in the History Happens Here! set, print it out, and visit the site of the photo (the photos are geotagged too!).
Next, hold the picture up in front of the building/landmark, and take a picture of your augmented reality!
Finally, visit our History Happens Here! group on Flickr, and share your “mash-up” with us! Please remember to include the original caption of the photo and the persistent URL in the description of your mash-up.
Tips and tricks for capturing a good perspective:
- What you may perceive as lined up by your naked eye will change when you look through the camera, so you should always be looking through your camera lens when trying to line up the photo with the landscape.
- You are the zoom for your mash up! Try moving the camera and/or the photo closer or farther away from you for a better shot. A simple tilt of the picture can make the perspective even more impressive!
- If you can’t get a perfect mash-up, don’t worry about it. Sometimes it’s impossible to stand exactly where the photo was taken in the past. Pick one element of the photo and try to line that up perfectly; you might be surprised by the results.
- Some pictures that you may think will only be “ok” actually turn out to be very striking and thought provoking as you see your world merge with the past. Standing on the steps of the Capitol for this shot was one of those moments:
Right now there are over 80 photos to choose from within the Flickr set. We know there are thousands of photos in the National Archives’ holdings that will work for this project. If you know of a photo not in the set, go out and use it anyway! Your creativity and input is always appreciated.
Warning: History Happens Here is an addicting project. You will want to go to lots of places and see how things have changed. So get ready to experience history today through the lens of the National Archives!