When doing research on the types photography, as part of the ongoing 1916 project I'm working on, of capturing Ireland today on cameras from a century ago. The genre which most surprised me in popularity but seldom used in stills today, is Stereoscopic photography. In recent years 3D movie viewing by the principle of stereopsis has made a huge comeback, now nearly every block buster comes with the 3D option, no longer is it associated with the B movies of the 80's. But I had no idea that in the past picture postcards, sold with a viewer similar to the effect of 3D glasses was so popular.
Stereoscopic photography, the process and illusion of 3D and depth in images, first became popular in the 1860's. It involves two images of the same scene taken a slight distance apart, preferably 60-65mm apart the same distance as the human eye. When the two images are placed side by side and viewed through a stereoscopic prism the illusion of depth is created.
Many a upper middle class family was not without a stereoscopic viewer and sets of postcards, the biggest sellers were travel and erotic images.
Particularly just after World War One, sales of stereoscopic viewers and images went up in demand. Many company's began selling sets of WW1 related images, due to the lifting of censorship on photography from the front line, images could be published posthumously to a media and public that were left starved of images.
One of the biggest sellers of Stereoscopic cameras was the Jules Richard Paris company, a genius in optical engineering. I recently bought a display model that I was told had not been used in over a hundred years, this one is from 1910.
Whats brilliant about this camera is the front camera elements can detach, and then the body and lens can be used, as a stereoscopic viewer for your slides and negatives.
The same double lens, then doubles up as a viewer (pardon the lame pun).
The slide viewer pops into the film section, and the same device used to expose the film is then used to view the negatives. It's hard to believe back in 1910 such a simple camera was this innovative.
The double image 65mm apart, produced onto a single negative.
Inside the viewer.
To best illustrate the effect of a stereoscopic viewer, I've over lapped the two images onto an animated Gif.
I will be shooting the sites and events around the 1916 rising centenary, to produce as a series of stereoscopic cards. For an exhibition people can view through a stereoscopic viewer, rather than prints on a wall, as was the fashion a century ago where people would put a coin into a machine to view images of either war, travel, or erotica.
The big problem with using these cameras, is the film is long extinct. The film magazines which the Jules Richard cameras take are similar to a 4x5 neg holder, but for 45mm by 105mm negatives, long discontinued.
The way I've figured out to get around this, is you need to cut a sheet of 4x5 film down to 45mm x 105mm size. IN THE DARK!!!
As this is done with a guillotine in complete darkness it's very important you don't cut your fingers off.
If you do this at home I assume no responsibility.
Out of a single 4x5 sheet of film you can load two magazines with film.
First you turn off the lights, then as you would with large format photography you feel for the emulsion side up by the rim cut in the lower right of the film. Then using a guillotine with markings measured at the sizes 45mm and 105mm you cut the film. I use tape to know where the measurement is to feel in the blackness.
Also very important, with the first incision you cut off the emulsion side marker, so you must be aware which side of the film is emulsion side up, as you've no guide to go back to once you cut the first millimeters off. If you load the film into the magazine emulsion side the wrong way down, you go through all that trouble for nothing.
When viewed normally the double image appears as this, but when viewed through a stereoscopic viewer or certain 3D glasses the effect is below.
The recent save Moore street protests have been very interesting to shoot on the 1916 era cameras.
With just a little work these 1916 cameras can get up and working again. The optic lens quality from this stereoscopic camera, that is back from the dead like lazarus is really surprising.
The next step is printing the images onto 5x7 prints in the darkroom, and then try find a venue to host an exhibition.