A blast from the past, Photographically by Sebastian

A blast from the past, Photographically by Sebastian 

Hi Steve

I started getting into photography when I was finishing grad school in Toronto. I had gotten myself a Canon G10 (because I wanted a more serious camera, little did I know what a $ sink it would lead to!) and when revising my thesis for the Nth time again got too much, I’d go out and walk around the city snapping away at scenes that took my interest.

And 5 years later I am still shooting street. I take a walk after work to a more distant subway station to get some exercise and also to take street photos where and when I can.

A few months ago I started helping with a project at the company to choose art work for the new office. One of the person on the committee had researched the history of his Victorian era house and found out how the plot of land went from an indian treaty to the first settler owner to the first owner of the house. Along with that he got historic photos of his street and even his house. He presented some historic photos of Toronto as suggestion for office art. And looking at them sparked a thought in my head: what existed back in the early history of Toronto that’s still recognizable today? What history we walk past everyday without even knowing or thinking about them?

So I went online myself and started looking for photos. After comparing some of these with Google Street View I choose a few and went off to reproduce the photograph. A little bit of photoshop and the results are below with notes about the original. All historic photos are public domain.



This is the flatiron building in Toronto. The original is from 1888. Every year they do a doors open event where buildings open themselves to the public and the flatiron is alway popular. Few knows that there has been a similar building there for centuries. Of special note is that the buildings on the left exists today basically unchanged (listed buildings) since 1888 while the right hand side has all been replaced. New pic taken using an e-m5 with the 12-50.


This is a view north up Bay St towards the old city hall (clock tower) which today is a court house. Buildings are all gone now and has been replaced by tall buildings housing all the major Canadian banks. Original photo from 1930s. New photo taken with E-m5 with 25 1.4.


St. Lawrence Market. The area was declared a market block in 1803 and there has been some sort of market there since then. Original photo from 1898, New pic with e-m5 and 25 f1.4



  1. These images are really good. They capture my attention and command it for longer than most. I really like the style of blending the old and new.

  2. I also like the 2nd image the best. It really gives me the best impression of new and old, especially with the cars parked on the sides of the street.

    • While there may be similarities in concept there are definitely differences in execution. Not to detract from Echin’s work, I have to admit that I like Sebastian’s images more.

  3. Very cool idea. I prefer the more seamless transition of old to new in the 2nd image. Maybe the new should be desaturated for a while at the border of the old in images 1 & 3.

  4. Great work, thanks for presenting these. I especially like the second shot, the more gradual transitions between the past and the present are really working well there.

  5. The last picture shows clearly how the other two pictures should have been edited. It defines one side being old and the other new. A lot certainly has changed since then. Hopefully you can show the same in the first two pictures, because as of now, it’s just a blurred composite without a fixed focal landmark.

    • Hi Gregory

      Actually all 3 have fixed landmarks.

      The second photo might be better demonstrated by this short animated gif: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7298/9594712315_e1d47d07a0_o.gif

      You can see that shot is all about the clock tower. Everything else has been knocked down and replaced by sky scrapers.

      And the first photo is all about the 1892 built flatiron building that still exists today. That photo is to show that there was another similar building in that location before the “modern” one was built. Also if you read the notes or visit the set I linked to in the comments there is a top bottom lay out of the 2 photos where you can see that the left side of the shot has not changed in over a century.

      • I appreciate your response. However, not being from/familiar where you shot the photos, I am unaware of the landmarks. The last photo was what I liked because it is easily seen that there stood the clock tower then and now. The second photo, you took out way too much of the new buildings. And the first one, I simply didn’t care for since the buildings have changed completely it’s no wonder I couldn’t tell which building was old/new.

        Would have rather you juxtapose these photos where it’s relatable even to other people from foreign countries, much like those in this link: http://canadianartjunkie.com/2012/04/26/harry-enchin-toronto-transformed/

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