Thursday, March 30, 2017

Stereocards: Free-viewing 3D Parallel-view

  Yesterday I finished the coursework for a class at FutureLearn titled Stereoscopy: An Introduction to Victorian Stereo Photography. It was a short course (2 weeks), offered by the National Museums Scotland, and it was filled was fun and interesting information. That course led to this blog post.

  I have fond memories of my first View-Master. I thoroughly enjoyed the visual depth and the sense of exploration that each reel provided. I had better than normal vision in my youth, 20/15, so I was easily sucked into each scene. I miss those eyes of yore! My need for wearing glasses makes using a View-Master very difficult, but I have discovered that I can wear my regular computer glasses and free-view online. (Yes!) I've free-viewed hundreds of stereocards over the past two weeks. Bliss.

  I have never been able to see 3D by using the anaglyph method, (red/cyan glasses). I simply get annoyed with the colored lines around everything. Some brains just cannot process 3D in that way, and some brains cannot form a 3D image from a parallel-view. Fortunately for me, parallel-viewing comes naturally. It is very much like doing hidden-3D or magic eye 3D images. If you can see those hidden images, you can parallel-view. Online, stereocards that have the individual photos 2"-4" are the best. If the images get much larger than 4", it starts becoming difficult for our eyes to pull in all the data we need to create the 3D image. Relax your eyes in the center of the stereocard (or pair of images) to the point of spacing out. A third image will show up in this center, and it will increase in clarity as your eyes adjust. Once you have a clear image in the center, you can look around the scenery and enjoy the new world you have just entered.

  In the Victorian stereoscopy course we had access to over 400 images. Most were from the Howarth-Loomes Collection at National Museums Scotland. I have chosen a handful of my favorite stereocards to share here.


  1. Very cool! I think I'm one of those people it doesn't work for but I still love to see the old photography. I still have the old viewmaster in my closet, with bunch of slides(or whatever the inserts are called). Hmm, wonder if those would scan...

  2. Doesn't work for me either. I was never able to do the Magic Eye thing. I still remember the Viewmaster slides from my youth, particularly some snow scenes and some NASA stuff. In fact I still have some as well. Gee big surprise, huh?

  3. I've not tried it, but there is the 'cross-eye' method of viewing stereocards. They place the right image on the left, and the left image on the right and somehow some people can see the 3D. Of course, that wouldn't work with the stereocard I posted because they are left-left and right-right.

    Can you guys do the red/cyan glasses viewing?

  4. red/cyan glasses always work for me. i was a failure with magic eye. I've lived with the shame for years.

    1. I don't feel so bad about being unable to the colored glasses now. Brains are a funny thing!