Rephotography in Duluth: Tom Arndt

I always get a little warmth inside me when I buy a new photography book and flip the page that has a photograph taken at location I recognize. It first happened when I bought Chris Faust’s Nocturnes, and more recently when I got Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places.

One of the other books I’ve purchased recently that I found a familiar place in was Tom Arndt’s Home. While turning the pages of the Home I found myself face to face with a photo titled Looking for tall ships, Duluth, 1976.

Tom Arndt, Looking for tall ships, 1976

I knew those stairs. I walk past them all the time while out executing my own street photography. I put the book into my bag, grabbed my camera and went out to rephotograph Tom Arndt.

I got the the location and positioned myself in front of the stairs. Before making an exposure I pulled the book out of my bag to check my footing against the original image. Something was amiss.

In the Arndt photo there is a certain registration between the smokestack of the Duluth Steam plant and the First United Methodist Church .

Steam Plant, Coppertop

When I stood at the base of the stairs I believed to be depicted in the photo, the gap between the smokestack and church was far too different to make me think I was in the same spot. I looked to my right and saw that a lamp post which looked identical to the one in the Tom Arndt photo was still standing. I went to inspect it.

A row of trees now obscure the view of the hillside, but I was still able to catch glimpses of the smokestack and church through the branches. I move to my right until I found a spot where the lamp post was up against the edge of the church. At that location the perspective between the smokestack and church was spot on with the Arndt photo. I would not be surprised to have found out that the lamp post may have moved in the past 34 years, but I had serious doubts that the smoke stack and church could have as well. It seemed to me that the only thing that had moved since 1974 was the location of the stairs.


Tom Arndt Rephotographed in 2010

It was also apparent that Tom was using a much wider angle lens than I had with me. Maybe I’ll go back rephotograph the rephotographed photograph again someday to better match the perspective in the original image.

Related External Links

On Tom Arndt’s Home

On Rephotography