Photo Essays

Found Stereoscopic Photos Make World War I Come Alive

by Jillian Steinhauer on July 3, 2013

Found stereoscopic WWI image of a military parade, 3-D rendering by A Nerd’s World

Found stereoscopic WWI image of a military parade, 3-D rendering by A Nerd’s World (all images via anerdsworld.com)

Last year, the New York Public Library turned old stereoscopic photographs into internet-friendly GIFs with an addictive online tool called the Stereograminator. Now a Toronto-based photography studio and graphic design shop has done the same with a series of found images of World War I, resulting in vivid 3-D images that bring the brutality of the Great War to life.

A Nerd’s World, as the shop is called, has an ongoing practice of looking for vintage cameras at thrift and antique shops and developing the film still inside. In the latest instance, the team found a Jules Richard Verascope stereo camera at an estate sale in Niagara Falls. Stereo cameras typically feature double lenses in an attempt to mimic human vision; when a person looks at the resulting two pictures side-by-side, the brain fuses them into one three-dimensional image.

Images of a bomb going off. The folks at A Nerd's World speculate that the glass slide may have broken from impact.

Still slide images of a bomb going off. The folks at A Nerd’s World speculate that the glass slide may have broken from impact.

But that process can be translated for the internet with the creation of GIFs, which is what the NYPL did last year and what A Nerd’s World has done now. It turned out that the Verascope camera in Niagara Falls, which was in pristine condition, had been owned by a member of the French Army during WWI, and it still contained the original photos: up-close images of soldiers, prisoners, decay, and death. All of those slides, as well as the camera, are at the shop in Toronto, but A Nerd’s World posted some of them on its blog, along with their 3-D combination renderings. The latter really immerse you in the scenes in a way the still photos, striking though they are, don’t.

Below are a few of our favorites. You can see all of them, plus the original still photos, at A Nerd’s World blog.

Soldiers gather around a priest at what seems to be a funeral.

Soldiers gathered around at what seems to be a funeral

Two soldiers help a friend that had been shot. One dead body lay in the background.

Two soldiers help a friend that’s been shot, a dead body in the background

Only the Church windows remain.

Remains of a bombed-out church

Prisoners being walked down the street by armed guards

Prisoners being walked down the street by armed guards

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  • stereovu

    For anyone that’s interested in historical stereoscopic images of landmarks, like this one from London in 1901, there are many posted at: http://vintage3d.blogspot.com/

  • Xam

    These gifs are alright, but not nearly as cool as looking at a real stereoscopic photo through a viewer. When you look at the real thing, it’s literally like going through a time warp.

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