Article

Article Series

Series: Panoramic Project Shows How National Parks Change Over Time

In the 1930s, panoramic photographs were taken from lookout points. Comparing these images to present-day photographs allows us to understand change over time. Viewing photographs of different eras in the national parks can give many insights on ecosystem processes, as well as simply change over time. The panoramic lookout photographs provide a window on the past and an opportunity to compare to the present with changes to landforms and land cover.

  • Chapter 1: Wildland Fire: Panoramic Lookout Project

    then and now sample from Glacier National Park

    Viewing photographs of different eras in the national parks can give many insights on ecosystem processes, as well as simply change over time. The panoramic lookout photographs provide a window on the past and an opportunity to compare to the present with changes to landforms and land cover. Read more

  • Chapter 2: History of the Panoramic Lookout Project

    sample of the panoramic lookout project

    Most documentation of the panoramic lookout photos project, which began about 1930 to document areas seen from the lookout system, comes from the US Forest Service. The NPS project began in 1934. Lester Moe worked for the Forest Service taking photos in 1933 and 1934, and later worked for NPS. Several innovations came about from this project: the Osborne photo-recording transit and “special emulsion infra-red sensitive film” not affected by smoke and haze. Read more

  • Chapter 3: Interpreting Panoramic Lookout Photos

    Yellowstone 1935

    Retake photography allows a viewer to compare how identifying landscape features change over time. There are many uses for these panoramic lookout photographs still today: assisting lookouts and park managers to accurately locate forest fires; identifying vegetation patterns; identifying landscape features; repeat photography to observe changes; and comparing infrared and panchromatic films, which can reveal changes in vegetation health and soil moisture, among other things. Read more

  • Chapter 4: Panoramic Lookout Project Parks

    Lighthouse at Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland

    The tables on this page list parks and points within parks where a panoramic lookout photo was taken in the 1930s. Data are included for lookout station, azimuth sector, photo serial number, type of film, date of original photograph, photographer, and retake date, where available. Read more

  • Chapter 5: Projects Highlighting Retake Photography

    landscape image of Denali National Park

    Describes the Denali Repeat Photography project, the USGS Repeat Photography Project in Glacier National Park, Digital Earth Watch, PicturePosts, and Alpine of the Americas Project in the Sierra Nevada, all of which seek to record landscape change via repeated photographs. Some of these include citizen science components. Read more