A PROFESSOR from Bolton Institute is travelling the world to take pictures of scenes captured on camera by the great Victorian pioneers of photography.

John Hannavy has already been to Russia, Ukraine and China this summer to follow in the footsteps of some of Britain's earliest photographers, and he has further expeditions planned.

By comparing his own contemporary photographs to Victorian photos, John is aiming to explore the changes that have taken place over time. He hopes to publish his work in a book in 2004.

John, who teaches photography and photographic history at the Institute, said: "The project started to develop in my mind about ten years ago in France. I was reading an account of an 1850s photographer when I realised I was sitting with my camera bag waiting for the sun to come out in the same point as the photographer I was reading about had been 100 or so years ago.

"I started thinking about the changes that must have taken place since he was there."

So far, John has also travelled to Cyprus, Egypt and Scotland to snap scenes depicted in photographs dating as far back as 1844.

He says his knowledge of different cultures has been broadened by his travels, but he has also been shocked by some of the cultural changes.

While in China, retracing the steps of Scottish-born photographer John Thomson, who visited the country in the 1870s, John was struck by the extent of Western influences there today. He said: "I was in Beijing surrounded by the most amazing old buildings. When I turned a corner I saw a beautiful pavilion dating from the 1600s -- and there was a big Starbucks Coffee sign on it."

He also learnt that first appearances can be deceptive during a trip to Russia. On first inspection of photographs taken by famous Bury war photographer Roger Fenton in the 1850s, some churches looked like that had not changed at all.

But on further investigation, he found some had been blown up by Stalin in the 1930s and had since been rebuilt.

John's travels and photographs have generated a lot of interest from both colleagues and students at the Institute.

He said: "They have been fascinated. I've only been back in work for three or four days and there's been a stream of people asking about how it went."