From the 1850’s to the 1930’s stereograms were considered cutting edge home entertainment technology. Two photos taken at the same time from slightly different angles would be view together using a special set of lenses called a stereoscope. The result would be an ever so subtle (yet mind-tingling) simulated 3D view…
When you look at something, your left and right eyes are viewing slightly different angles of the same scene. Your brain then puts the two separate images together to give you a sense of depth. Go ahead and close one eye… now open it and close your other eye really fast. Notice how the scene shifts from left and right? That’s the built-in stereoscope in your head. Ok, stop it. Silly.
Remember those View-Masters from when you were a kid? Those came about in 1939, introduced in 1939, four years after the advent of Kodachrome color film made the use of small high-quality photographic color images practical.
The Rochester Public Library has an awesome collection of these vintage stereoscopic images. The one shown above is High Falls (c.1885). What? You don’t have a stereoscope?! DAMMIT! Oh, wait… I have Photoshop! YAY!
It turns out we can simulate the effects of a real stereoscope by flashing the left and right images over each other really fast. Our brain does the rest for us. It’s not quite the same as viewing the photos in a real stereoscope, but it’s still pretty cool.
Caution, if you have had epileptic seizures before, you might not want to proceed!
The library at Rochester Atheneum and Mechanics’ Association (c.1875). This was the forerunner to Rochester Institute of Technology which began as a result of an 1891 merger between the Rochester Athenaeum (a literary society), and the Mechanics Institute. The name of the merged institution at the time was called Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI). In 1944, the university changed its name to Rochester Institute of Technology.
BTW, if you ever want to see a real stereoscope in action, pay a visit to the George Eastman House .
Tags: Academy Building, Athenaeum Library, Chapin's monument, CJ Hayden monument, High Falls, Lake Avenue, Lower Falls, Monroe County Court House, Mount Hope Cemetery, old photos, old photos of Rochester, old photos of Rochester NY, Pitkin monument, Pitkin vault, Powers Building, Rochester, Rochester City Hall, Rochester Free Academy, Rochester NY, Sibley Building, Sibley's, Sibley's Department Store, Sibly Lindsay & Curr Co., stereogram, stereoscope, stereoscopic views, vintage views, West Main Street
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