Exploring the Alps in 3D with a Jules Richard Verascope Camera

Exploring the Alps in 3D with a Jules Richard Verascope Camera

There’s a heatwave today in UK and so I thought it’d be nice to share my small collection of glass positives taken in the Alps in the early 1900s, with a Jules Richard Verascope camera, and we can cool down with them.

All of the glass slides are 107 x 45mm format, with most of them having a ‘Richard Verascope’ stamp on them. The Jules Richard Verascope stereo cameras were first produced in France towards the end of the 19th Century and the 107x45mm format ones were still being made in the 1930s. For more information and some beautiful examples of the cameras, please see EarlyPhotography.co.uk and the History of Science Museum, Oxford.

Verascope Stereoscopic Camera, by Jules Richard, Paris, c. 1927, History of Science Museum Collection.

You can also find an excellent write-up about Jules Richard and the Verascope at Oxford’s History of Science Museum, from when they made some new acquisitions.

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I do not know who the photographers were or the exact years in which they were taken. You will spot that the slides are numbered and Jules Richard actually sold views taken by amateurs, so although the quality in some suggest that they were taken by amateurs, they were mostly likely sold commercially.

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‘3036 D. L. Le Lyskamm sude la cabane Bétemps’.

Stereo cameras’ lenses are a fixed distance apart, so you will see that in some of the images there is very little depth because the photographer was too far away from the subject. Sometimes adding a person to the foreground helps…

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‘3051 D.L. Vue prise de l’hôtel du Trift. Sur le col du Trift, le (Rolhorn?)’.

For each image I’ve added a scan of the original glass slide and the digital stereoview below it, which I’ve made by aligning them and gently digitally cleaning them. Glass slides are easily scratched and often grubby but I was surprised by the condition of these considering how old they are.

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‘3135 D. L. Summet de l’Aiguille de la Za (Tsa) (3.6 T 3)’

I really like the person in the foreground of the above image, even if their face is in the shadow of their hat. It’s also nice that they carried a Verascope three thousand meters up a mountain for us to visit a Century or so later with them in stereoscopic 3-D!

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‘3165 D.L. Crevasse du glacier (Durand?). Descent du Col de la Dent Blanche’.

I’m afraid I’m no expert on the Swiss Alps so if anything needs correcting please get in touch.

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‘4399 Suisse. Vallée de la Reuss’.

You can find an example of a stereoview of this Valley taken much earlier in the Getty Museum Collection, they even added some nice foreground for you.

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‘21962 Suisse. Glacier du Rhône vu de face’.

I’ve seen in a presentation by Dr. Peter Blair that old stereoscopic images of glaciers and comparisons with modern images can be used to study how much they have retreated over time, due to the affects of climate change. For more information and to order his book ‘Chamonix Mont Blanc in 3D, please visit his website and also his abstract from the Celebration of Stereoscopic 3D, Part the Second. This glacier sadly doesn’t look as impressive as this now!

**Update 19/09/2021** I’ve been contacted by Martin Blum about a blog post he’s made, also about the disappearing glaciers and using stereoviews to study this, scary but necessary reading: link to the post here (thanks Martin!)

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‘30921 Suisse Meiringen. Gorges de l’Aar’.

And so we finish in Meiringen, Switzerland. As well as seeing the Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht), I really recommend that you try the meringues and retrace the footsteps of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

I was motivated to share some more stereoviews on my blog after spending two days of mostly being disappointed (again) about how many academics want to give presentations about stereoscopic images without actually caring or mentioning that the images are in 3-D and/or understanding what stereoscopy is; some chose not to even show any and others concluded that the public didn’t like viewing cross-view images with a viewer for parallel-views (well, erm no *shock* Sherlock!). Their talks could be about any flat image, indeed they often just show half a stereo and talk about something unrelated to 3-D. One even chose to mock researchers who dared to look at photographs as if they are beneath them or vulgar, after spending two minutes justifying why they weren’t going to discuss stereoviews(?!), which is quite ironic given the title of the conference. Stereoscopy doesn’t seem to be very important to many of them; parroting as many other academic quotes as possible, even if they are wrong, is the focus of their ‘research’, without actually looking at the images, exploring or questioning them or bringing anything new or worthwhile to the table. It’s a strange concept to discuss the topic of the aesthetics of stereoviews without even mentioning the depth! Just the example of the disappearing glaciers in this post shows how important the information within stereoviews is, and this is just the tip of the iceberg (pun intended).

Let’s appreciate the value of being able to travel back in time and revisit the moments captured in incredible stereoscopic 3-D by actually looking at some stereoviews. If you need any help viewing stereoscopic images, please see this post.

/end of rant.

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2 thoughts on “Exploring the Alps in 3D with a Jules Richard Verascope Camera

  1. interesting comment about the retreating glaciers over time. Another example of what I mean when I refer to stereoscopy as being a time machine.

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  2. Hi Rebecca, I am very pleased to read this review from you concerning the past two days! The intellectual twaddle about stereoscopy with pseudo-anaglyph photos as illustrations was really embarrassing. Many have probably never actually seen a photo in 3D.
    But….
    As always, Denis’ talk was wonderful. It is so much fun to hear him, with his genuinely felt enthusiasm, coupled with so much in-depth knowledge.
    By the way, nice stereos from Switzerland, with an impressive Rhone glacier
    Regards, Thomas

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