Sunday, May 11, 2008

On Victorian Stereograph Pictures:

I love my old Stereograph. It is not the one I had as a child. People didn’t think about them as being worth anything back then. They gave them to children to play with.

The one I have was bought for me when I was an adult in an antique shop. I have a few old stereograph cards. Their two ‘nearly’ identical pictures side by side browned over in sepia from years gone by.

To use it, you sit with your back to the light source so the light shines on the card. You put a card in the slot on the cross piece and put the viewer up to your eyes. You move this cross bar closer and further from your eyes to find the best focus. And like magic, the two images become one in three dimensions. They pop out at you.

This is nearly a lost art. They were taken by a camera with two exactly identical lenses. It was really two cameras in one case with a shutter rigged to have both lenses take a picture at the same moment. What makes it work is the distance between the lenses. Like the space between your eyes gives depth to your vision. The distance between the lenses is greater then your eyes but it is the same concept.

I don’t have a stereograph camera so after a lot of trial and error I found I could make them myself by using one camera and taking two pictures of the same thing about the distance of the length of a brick apart. The best pictures are of scenes that have things in the foreground, mid, and background. Adding extra room around the subject helps because the picture will be trimmed to fit. You can’t take any action or pictures in this way but it works for still shots. And the closer the picture the harder it is to see the 3D.

When I first started doing this I used a regular instamatic camera but now I have a digital. I take the pictures in sets. I always take the left first then the right. It helps to keep them organized that way. After I print out the pictures usually four to a sheet (the size they are printed is different for each camera as the lenses are different in other cameras.) Then I cut the pictures out and place them loosely in the stereograph against a new card I cut out from poster board. I move them around until the picture pops and tape them in place for the moment. I trim them where they over lap and to fit the card and glue them down. I write the date, subject and place of the picture on the back or edge or the card and I’m on to the next one.

I have a unique collection like no one else’s. My own stereograph 3D pictures.

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