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Christian Stereoviews

Publishing Notes
Updated 23 SEP 2014

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The stereoview card shown above is a selected sample showing the members of New Hampshire's Alton Bay Christian Conference Center. It dates to the late 1800's, and the camp is still there today in 2014.

My main focus is stereoview cards (or stereographs) showing the history of American evangelism: traveling tent evangelists, camp meetings, and various other early Christian gatherings. Unlike the limitations of traditional photography, with stereoscopy the cards permitted these events to be documented in their full 3D splendor. They were typically viewed in a stereoscope, the darling of the 19th century well-to-do.

Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild, Look Upon a Little Child

The above image is one of the earliest stereographs in the collection dating back to the 1850's. The enlarged detail image shows a little girl praying before bed. The reverse of the card has printed "Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild; Look Upon a Little Child". The upper left-hand corner shows a small image of the card in its entirety. It exhibits quite a bit of depth, is hand-colored, and is a good candidate for restoration and conversion to digital 3D-HD. If you visit the exhibit in 2015, you may see this piece on the cinema 3DHD screen, and feel as if you are right there in the 1850's again.

The most sought after (and valued) are those view cards in which the imagery was captured by independent stereo photographers. These could be produced in very small numbers for groups, or in some instances be a one of a kind view. This would not have been an inexpensive hobby for an amateur photographer of the day. Stereo photography was imaging science and technology at its highest form. This was the new frontier.

evangelist tent

In addition to the standard view cards, there are also those on gelatin silver glass plates, and hand-colored French tissue. Not many of these fragile stereo views have made it to the 21st century. Additional paper-based imagery includes stereo postcards. All of these made their way to the American shore in the latter half of the 19th century.

The collection also consists of various antique stereoscopes, with manufacturing dates ranging from the 1860's through the latter half of the 20th century. They run from beautiful wooden stereoscopes imported in to the USA from France, to the various View Master models, to molded plastic kids viewers. All with the theme of the life of Jesus Christ.

My latest project is to scan, hand-restore and convert these into digital 3DHD files for large-screen HD televisions ... where the people and places of American Christianity's heritage really come to life for the viewer. My current activity is working with a Fuji Real 3D V3 autostereoscopic digital 3D photo frame.

evangelist tent

The image below shows the stereo card left-eye view of a model created by Italian sculptor Domenico Mastroianni working in Paris. One must truly see this in person, since it will not be 3D on your computer screen. There simply is no comparison between a flat 2D image, and the 3D stereo image. I am looking forward to seeing it on a large format digital 3DHD screen.

Domenico Mastroianni, sculptor
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdelene
Domenico Mastroianni, 1910


Sincerely,
Frank DeFreitas
Phone: 610-434-8236



"Science is the study of the physical manifestations of God in action."
-- Frank DeFreitas




Frank DeFreitas Holography