No. 149 . 04 June 2003 
ArchitectureWeek
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Stereo Photography for Architecture

by Michael Kaplan

Stereoscopic architectural photography provides an evocative visual experience, through its ability to record subtle qualities of space, light, and materials, that can only be suggested by flat media. Stereo photography positions scene artifacts in space, simulates interior space enclosed by the envelope, and effectively renders the dispersal and reflectance of light that define the tactile and visual qualities of materials.

Stereo photography restores the binocular cues for space perception that enable stronger readings of distance and size. Validating Laszio Moholy-Nagy's belief that "the experience of space is not a privilege of the gifted few, but a biological function," three-dimensional imaging democratizes the viewing and appreciation of architecture.

Stereo photography supports natural binocular vision by providing pairs of discrete images for the left and right eyes. Use of the technique paralleled the original development of photography, adding a depth record of space to the record of light and tone.

Birth of Architectural Photography

The publication of John Ruskin's Seven Lamps of Architecture in 1849, only ten years after the invention of photography, helped awaken popular interest in architectural history, a curiosity for the exotic and antique, and a nostalgic pride in the past.

Ruskin's work coincided with the beginnings of architectural photography and the production of the first stereo views of buildings. According to stereograph historian William C. Darrah, "a large proportion of stereo views published between 1854 and 1880 were architectural. Every notable structure in the world in existence between 1850 and 1930 has been stereographed."   >>>

 

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