Thursday, August 18, 2016

Inspired by Victorian Stereoscopy

I just took a short MOOC (massive open on-line course) on Victorian Stereoscopy from the University of Edinburgh.

Stereoscopy was the virtual reality of it's day in the late nineteenth century, and just about everyone had a viewer and collected stereo cards.

After looking at hundreds of black and white stereo images, I decided to haul out the 120 stereo populist and load it up with some Arista 400 and try my hand at it.  I've done lot's of stereo in color but in black and white only did one or two experiments with 4x5 cameras a long time ago.

The Victorians were big into genre scenes in quaint villages, spectacular landscapes, and humorous images of women negotiating hoop skirts.  I didn't have access to those things, so I went out into the garden.

These are all set up for crossed eyed viewing (which is the easiest way to set them up - you just scan the pairs as they are).  If you're not familiar with that method of stereo viewing, try this little instructional piece I did several years ago.

Some of my favorite stereo images are scenes with relatively little depth, so I started with Sarah's pet oaks on the side of the driveway.

The effect is more obvious when there is a bit of depth to play with.

I think it does help when the image itself has the standard 2D methods to create the illusion of depth such as this sunlit papyrus in front of the shaded garage door.

Although sometimes the effect is most impressive with a messy composition where you almost can't tell what's what until it's viewed in stereo.

It's pretty rare in victorian stereoscopy, I think close-ups are particularly fun in 3D, but maybe this one is a little too close.

One of the popular themes for the Victorians were scenes of ghosts, and there's a particular connection to pinhole.  The first instance of anybody actually taking a pinhole image is recorded by the Scottish scientist David Brewster in his book, The Stereoscope. Brewster is also the person who first suggested you could record ghostly figures by having the model move out of the scene half way through the exposure.  I thought this striped chair would be a good background for a ghostly image and I was hoping the image on my Motorhead t-shirt would show up more, but I think I may have moved out of the scene a little too soon.

All with the 120 Stereo Populist, side by side chambers with .3mm pinholes 6cm from 6x6cm frames. 400 developed in Microphen 1:1.

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