How to participate in

Rephotography is the locating and precise re-shooting of old landscape photographs. It has been popular in the U.S. since at least the 1970s. In the Black Hills, interest has centered around the photographs from the 1874 Custer expedition, with excellent studies in 1974 by Donald Progulske and in 2002 by Ernest Grafe and Paul Horsted. This website is part of a broader project to document the Black Hills' changing landscape since about 1775. One result will be the Atlas of the Black Hills Landscape, a digital collection of photographs, maps, aerial images, texts, and other documents. As part of this effort we invite volunteers from the community to contribute high-quality rephotographs to the Atlas.

Beyond being a historical tool, rephotography is a fun pastime. It takes you outside with friends and family to places you would otherwise never explore, and it challenges your knowledge and skill to find the exact spot where some photographer placed his or her camera years ago. And when you get home and "stack up" the new and old photographs, the changes are fascinating.

But it isn't always easy! Part of the fun is that finding a site can take five minutes or it can take five months-- and photographing it can take some skill and experience. So if you would like to join us in hunting down some old photographs, here are our suggestions for how to do it. Always remember to be safe, and not to cross private property without asking permission.

What to bring

How to get a good rephotograph

Here's the gist of it: Rephotography is not horseshoes or hand-grenades-- "close" does not count. You want the new photo to look as if it's nailed to the old one. In fact, if your photograph is not lined up very closely with the original, we will not be able to "stack" it on the original. On a successful shoot, your lens may well be just inches from the original photographer's.

Don't try to locate yourself by lining up the edges of the old picture. Forget the edges-- your photo won't match your viewfinder, and the edges get re-cropped anyway. Instead, first get yourself in the right line of sight, left-to-right, by lining up an object in the center foreground with an object in the center background. Then move forward or backward until the rest of the objects line up properly. Once you're close, take an extra five minutes to fine-tune your position-- you'll be glad you did.

The trickiest part is lining up against some landmark that you can't see once you get into position. You may find yourself cursing trees!


Left: Good alignment. Notice how the bridge and road stay put. The posts made for easy triangulation.
Right: Close, but no cigar. The horizon is off, and we may be too far from the creek. Must be re-shot.
Both were re-shot with the wrong lighting. The left was too late in the day; the right could use more sun.

How to submit your photographs

Submit your photos by email to . Include the following:

I hereby grant to Robert Wellman Campbell permission to copy, sell 
and distribute copies of the following photograph(s), which I made:

File name         Location              Date           After photo #

and to incorporate the copyright work, in whole or in part, into 
derivative works for sale and distribution including, but not limited 
to, websites, CDs, DVDs, books, motion pictures, and printed articles. 
I retain all other rights in the copyright work, including without 
limitation, the right to copy and distribute the work.


Signed:  ________________________

Address: ________________________


Phone:   ________________________

Email:   ________________________

Date:    ________________________

If you have other informtion

We appreciate any information you have about the sites shown in, even if you do not want to shoot any photographs. Please send it to . Likewise, if you have old photographs you would like to share, please give us a call at 605-394-1989.


Grafe, Ernest, and Horsted, Paul, Exploring with Custer : the 1874 Black Hills Expedition (Custer, S.D.: Golden Valley Press, 2002).

Klett, Mark et al., Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984). Also see related work at

Progulske, Donald, Yellow Ore, Yellow Hair, Yellow Pine: A Photographic Study of a Century of Forest Ecology (Brookings, S.D.: Bulletin
616 Agricultural Experiment Station, SDSU, 1974).

Rogers, G.F., Malde, H.E., Turner, R.M., Bibliography of Repeat Photography for Evaluating Landscape Change (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1984).