The History Of Stereoscopic Photography

Stereoscopic photography is the technique of emulating the binocularability of human eyes to create an illusion of the depth. Human eyes are at a distance from each other, seeing the object from another angle; it sends these signals to our brains which in turn combines these images into a single one. The stereoscope was built using this principle. It was made a long ago and can be described as the VR of the 19th century. The stereoscope used  images and gave people the 3D effect. Stereoscopic images have made a comeback, and many design experts, interior decorators, even Bridal Makeup artists have started making use of these images in their beauty saloons to impress customers. Check out these, now with modern systems, the quality of photos have become superior and hence being utilised by businesses. The history of stereoscopic photography is pretty impressive, read below to know more.

Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1832 invented a binocular called a stereoscope. This device was used to view images with one eye and hence creating a 3D effect. The stereographs were made from a metal plate which produced reflections but also found that they were slow to react to light sensitivity and hence did not yield proper results. But the device did not receive significant interest due to this failure until Sir David Brewster in 1940 tweaked the design and called it a refracting stereoscope.

Refracting Stereoscope Viewer: In this version of the tool, he places the lenses 2.5 inches apart in a small box. He created holes on the side of it so that the light enters and a slit on the bottom at the end far away from the lens so that the prints slide in and out. Frosted glass was placed at the bottom of the box so that more light can be allowed for better functioning and viewing transparencies. This device was exhibited in 1851, and Queen Victoria liked it and later more than 250000 stereoscopes were sold along with millions of stereoscopic prints. By then, the copies were made from a process called Collodion process by a company called Stereoscopic Company. That company started sending photographers all over the world to create stereo cards of many views and places. All this contributed to photography becoming a favourite tool for people to record memories to view it later.

Handheld stereoscope: Some people were unhappy with the viewer as it gave them headaches. It was difficult to view two scenes from two eyes and then merge the two separate images into one. Moreover, it didn't work with people who had a faulty vision. So Oliver Wendell Holmes, with the help of Joseph Bates, designed a handheld stereoscope viewer that allowed customised adjustments that solved headaches. It was also lightweight and cheaper, making it a standard version.

Decline: The popularity of stereoscope started declining in the 1870’s due to the economic crisis of 1873, and many photographers were out of business. Stereo cards were copied and lead to a decline in the quality and viewing experience. Though the big corporations survived, the smaller ones perished, and with that, the control of imagery started.  A company called the Keystone view Company survived and made stereo views until television came into the picture.

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