Trainspotting ‘then and now’ series proves online hit

Neil Guthrie's recreations of iconic scenes from the film Trainspotting have taken the internet by storm.

Neil Guthrie's recreations of iconic scenes from the film Trainspotting have taken the internet by storm.

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A SERIES of innovative then and now photos recreating iconic scenes from the original Trainspotting film has gone down a storm on social media.

Hot on the heels of the release of the sequel to Trainspotting, photographer Neil Guthrie, a 43-year-old events promoter from Leith, set about creating a series of ‘then and now’ images in a bid to track the changes which have taken place since Danny Boyle’s original was filmed over 20 years ago.

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Inspired after seeing the trailer for T2 Trainspotting last November, Neil said: “I noticed in the trailer that they had a few new scenes that were filmed on Calton Road, where part of the original film was filmed.

“It gave me the idea of taking a few photos myself at exactly the same position, to create a composite image using stills to show both past and present.

“I wasn’t sure how well they would match up, since the film crew would have used different cameras and lenses, but I thought it would be interesting to give it a try.”

The photos, of which there are five in total, are all taken from the famous clip in the original Trainspotting showing characters Renton and Spud running down Princes Street, before the pair are apprehended by security guards on Calton Road.

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Rather than using image manipulation software, Neil decided to implement a more traditional method, matching up the scenes with his smartphone and then capturing the results.

The idea to use a smartphone seemed appropriate to Neil after hearing Mark Renton’s updated “Choose life...” monologue in the new trailer, which makes mention of 21st century technology: “I really liked the new ‘Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...’ part where they’re running down Calton Road and under the bridge because it showed how much things have changed in the years since the original film was released.

“I had the idea of having a freeze-frame of the original film on my phone, lining it up with the real bridge and then taking a photo of them both. It took quite a bit of experimentation to work out how to get everything to align, and how to get the right exposure and focus on the camera, but I soon got the hang of it.

“The camera was just hand-held. It would have been easier to use a tripod but I liked the idea of using as little equipment as possible. This method also saved me from buying an app - I’m originally from Fife and hate spending money unnecessarily!”

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Neil’s photographs were picked up by the Lost Edinburgh Facebook page, the most popular of which received 2.4k likes, and was seen by over 120,000 people.

Some of the shots were more challenging to replicate than others, as Neil explained: “The hardest photo was the final one on Princes Street as the original film camera had been at waist-height, which made it awkward to align my camera and phone without a tripod.

“The reason this photo isn’t as well aligned/exposed as the previous ones is because I realised I’d forgotten to buy a parking ticket for my car and had to sprint along Princes Street towards the West End before the traffic wardens got there!”

The popularity of the photos has spurred Neil on to try and create some more - but in keeping with the spirit of the movies, we may have to wait a while: “I don’t have any plans to create any more for the original Trainspotting, but I might just be back in 20 years’ time to take some similar ones for T2!”

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

Pic: Copyright Neil Guthrie

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