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March History Book Club features photographer Horsted

March History Book Club features photographer Horsted

Photographer Paul Horsted

PIERRE, S.D. -- A driveway moment inspired Paul Horsted.

From the driveway of his home near Custer, Horsted could see a rock formation photographed by William Inningworth, the photographer who accompanied Gen. George Armstrong Custer’s 1874 expedition to the Black Hills.

Horsted was a newspaper photographer and chief photographer for the South Dakota Department of Tourism before striking out on his own as a freelance photographer.

He decided to stand in the footsteps of Inningworth and photograph the same rock formation.

“That connection to history drew me in, the notion that I could stand in the same spot, create a new image with the same perspective, and then compare past and present,” Horsted said.

The original Illingworth photograph glass plates are part of the South Dakota State Historical Society collection at the Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre.

Horsted, his co-authors and his wife, Camille Riner, have created four books which combine historic images and current photographs taken by Horsted at the same location, accompanied by information about the site.

Horsted will discuss his books and photography as the guest speaker at this month’s History and Heritage Book Club meeting. The free program will begin at 5:15 p.m. Central Time on Thursday, March 21, at the Cultural Heritage Center. Everyone is welcome to attend.

“Paul’s books give the sense of being able to look at scenes as they were decades ago and see the same features in current photographs taken by Paul,” said Michael Lewis, president of the South Dakota Historical Society Foundation. The foundation is the nonprofit fundraising partner of the SDSHS. The foundation and the SDSHS Press co-sponsor the History and Heritage Book Club.

During his PowerPoint presentation to the History and Heritage Book Club, Horsted will give an overview of his books Exploring with Custer: The 1874 Black Hills Expedition, Crossing the Plains with Custer and The Black Hills Yesterday & Today before discussing his latest book, Yellowstone Yesterday & Today.

For Yellowstone Yesterday & Today, Horsted worked with Bob Berry of Cody, Wyo., who has a large photo collection and knowledge of Yellowstone National Park.

“I was curious if the same natural processes would be seen there as I’ve observed in the Black Hills. In the Hills the rule generally is that there are many more trees and a denser forest than in pre-1900 photographs. Also I found several locations where the same dead tree or same live tree, now grown to maturity, could be observed in past and present. This really fascinated me and I was watching for the same thing in Yellowstone,” Horsted said. “We specifically chose more than 100 images which we felt best represented the spectrum of the park’s features but were also places that are generally accessible to visitors today.”

Horsted said that the challenges in doing “re-photography” are finding and getting to the site, which can take from minutes to a year or longer; and accurately positioning the camera so that even foreground elements of the historic image are accurately portrayed in the modern image.

“This is harder than it sounds. It’s sometimes difficult to ‘see’ or perceive correctly from the historic image just what you are looking at in today’s world. When it all comes together, it’s a wonderful experience,” Horsted said. “Going to the actual site of these historic images makes me feel I’m ‘standing in history.’”

Horsted’s books are available at the Heritage Stores at the Cultural Heritage Center and Capitol, plus Horsted will be selling books at the event.

For more information, call the Foundation at (605) 773-6006.

The South Dakota Historical Society Foundation is a private charitable nonprofit that seeks funding to assist the South Dakota State Historical Society in programming and projects to preserve South Dakota’s history and heritage for future generations.

The South Dakota State Historical Society is a division of the Department of Tourism. The Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the State Historical Society. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen. The State Historical Society, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute, is headquartered at the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Center in Pierre. The center houses the society’s world-class museum, the archives, and the historic preservation, publishing and administrative/development offices. Call (605) 773-3458 or visit history.sd.gov for more information. The society also has an archaeology office in Rapid City; call (605) 394-1936 for more information.