Monday, November 03, 2014

Very Cool!

I love looking at old pictures:
They’re coming out of the vault and into the digital age. In slow but meticulous work at the California State Library in downtown Sacramento, more than 10,000 old sepia-toned 3-D photos – most from the 1800s – are being dusted off and converted to computer-ready images.

Officially known as stereoscopic photos, they were a popular turn-of-the-century parlor activity, shared like postcards and viewed through hand-held viewers that turned the side-by-side double photos into a single 3-D image.

For decades, thousands of the cardboard photos have been sitting in the state library’s archives, viewable only by appointment. Now, they’re being uploaded to a photo sharing site that’s making them available to anyone anywhere...

“Back then, people would have hundreds of these cards at home. It would be their television of the day,” said Vincent Beiderbecke, a state library digital specialist, who’s been working on the project for two years.

He and another digital specialist, Matt Bartok, scan the double images and upload them to a 3-D sharing website, As of now, they have 93 black-and-white photos on the site but hope to have 200 uploaded by year’s end. Each can be viewed in several formats, including an anaglyph version that requires the red-and-blue cardboard glasses for the full 3-D effect and a “wiggle” format where the people and places appear to move.

Those already posted range from images of horse-drawn wagons trudging up Donner Pass, turn-of-the-century tourists posing before Yosemite Falls, and a locomotive stopped at the foot of dirt-lined J Street in Old Sacramento, circa 1865. Not all of them are dated or captioned.
As I said, very cool.

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