Home Archived April 13, 2016

Repeat Photography: Desert Mountain


Repeat photography: By repeating a photograph (from the same point and in the same direction) after a period of years, change can be observed. In both 1935 & in 1956, an Osborne photo recording transit was used to take photographs from the Desert Mountain Lookout. By comparing the photographs (taken 21 years apart), changes in the landscape can be seen. In these photographs drastic changes are evident (Hungry Horse Reservoir was built during this time) as well as smaller changes (clearings in the forest for the town of Hungry Horse are large enough by 1956 to be identifiable). A lack of change can also be significant – in 1956 US Highway 2 is barely visible as it runs from Badrock Canyon towards the Coram area, today this strip of highway is much more prominent when observed from the lookout as a result of highway widening and commercial development.

Shown below are infrared black-and-white images from 1935 and 1956 at Desert Mountain Lookout in Flathead National Forest, adjacent to Glacier National Park, MT, USA. It is preferable to compare images of the same type (infrared with infrared or panchromatic with panchromatic) and thus only infrared photographs are shown below.  Although the infrared film characteristics may make some features more difficult to identify, infrared film is often a better choice for use in identifying vegetation.  If panchromatic film were used in the comparison, different conclusions about what had changed from 1935 to 1956 might be plausible.

Looking west towards Badrock Canyon, with Teakettle Mountain to the north and Columbia Mountain to the South. The town of Hungry Horse is evident as a small clearing east of the South and Middle Fork confluence of the Flathead River, near Badrock Canyon.

180-300° arc sector image 1935, infrared

dsrt277ir 82435.jpg (43595 bytes)

180-300° arc sector image 1956, infrared

dsrt277ir 71956.jpg (45406 bytes)

Looking north towards the Belton Hills and Apgar Mountains of Glacier National Park. Regrowth of the conifer trees is evident where snags existed in 1935.

300-60° arc sector image 1935, infrared

dsrt278ir 82435.jpg (49531 bytes)

300-60° arc sector image 1956, infrared

dsrt278ir 71956.jpg (50295 bytes)

Looking south down the Flathead Range with the waters of Hungry Horse Reservoir bisected by the cable in the 1956 image.

60-180° arc sector image 1935, infrared

dsrt282ir 82435.jpg (45520 bytes)

60-180° arc sector image 1956, infrared

dsrt282ir 71956.jpg (54297 bytes)

Photographs courtesy of Glacier National Park archives.