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Some days ago, I found myself in the middle of a much-used road to recreate a photo of the same scene from over a hundred years ago. The result is quite alright, but far from perfect.

What techniques, tools and tricks do photographers use who create perfectly matching modern equivalents of old photos? I haven’t found any tutorial online, so I ask you how to find

  • the right spot,
  • the right focal length, and
  • the right angle

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If you know certain facts about the image (certain lines are parallel, size & distance of certain objects - the moon for instance) you can estimate the focal length. The maths can be quite involved however.

A more practical solution would be to find a camera app for a phone or tablet that will allow an image to be superimposed over the live camera image so you can get it lined up automatically.

You can then work out the focal length by looking up the camera/tablet's sensor size, and use those settings on your main camera.


If it's a very old photo it might have been taken with a view camera with tilt and swing movements, so it could be hard to replicate it exactly! You might have to use a wider focal length and crop the image.

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  • Thank you for your answer. How do I estimate the focal length? Which software to superimpose images is available? How do I work out the focal length?
    – lejonet
    Jun 9, 2014 at 21:03

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