First photo First photo in 3D First colour photo First colour photo in 3D

First photo in 3D

1. The technology

2. The human subject


First 3D photo of a person, and first 3D portrait photo of a person

Henry Collen (1797–1879) made a stereoscopic calotype portrait of the inventor Charles Babbage in August 1841. This is now lost. The Babbage portrait may be one of those referred to by Charles Wheatstone, writing in 1852:

 

It was at the beginning of 1839, about six months after the appearance of my memoir in the Philosophical Transactions, that the photographic art became known, and soon after, at my request, Mr. TALBOT, the inventor, and Mr. COLLEN (one of the first cultivators of the art) obligingly prepared for me stereoscopic Talbotypes of full-sized statues, buildings, and even portraits of living persons. M. QUETELET, to whom I communicated this application and sent specimens, made mention of it in the Bulletins of the Brussels Academy of October 1841.

Collen himself recalled:

 

In 1841, when I was one of the very few who undertook to make use of Mr. Talbot's process, Mr. Wheatstone not only had the idea of making photographic portraits for the stereoscope, but at his request, and under his direction, in August of that year, I made a pair of stereoscopic portraits of Mr. Babbage, in whose possession they still remain; and if I remember rightly, Mr. Wheatstone has previously obtained some daguerreotype portraits from Mr. Beard for the stereoscope. [H. Collen (1854) 'Earliest stereoscopic portraits' Journal of the Photographic Society 1:200, quoted in Wade].

It was also in 1841 that Wheatstone had visited Beard to obtain a stereo daguerreotype portrait; in 1842 he had also commissioned stereo daguerreotypes from Antoine Claudet in London and Louis Armand Hippolyte Fizeau in Paris. [Talbot Correspondence Project]

2 stereoscopic self-portraits by Dr John Adamson (1810–1870) of the University of St Andrews were presented by Sir David Brewster on 26 March 1849; the process is not stated, but was apparently calotype. No image has yet been located. However the University of St Andrews Library Photographic Archive has an interesting stereographic portrait, said to be c. 1845, and inscribed on the front free endpaper is "Dr Lyon Playfair from JA" (John Adamson); a handwritten note below states "1st stereo portrait in the history of the stereoscope—Sir D Brewster of Dr Adamson". Marc Boulay, Photographic Archivist at St Andrews, confirmed that this image is a salted paper print of Dr John Adamson, thought to have been given by Adamson to John Lyon Playfair, who in turn is thought to have been the owner of one of the two albums at St Andrews in which the image is found. Boulay says this stereographic portrait is "perhaps the earliest in existence". [private communication] The Adamson portrait may be the earliest surviving 3d portrait photo taken with a twin-lens camera, i.e. the earliest in which left- and right- images were taken simultaneously.

The first successful autostereoscopic viewing device was Swan's Cube, marketed as as the Crystal Cube Miniature or Casket Portrait, in which left- and right-eye transparencies are mounted on two adjacent faces of a cube, which in turn is made from 2 prisms. From 1862 Henry Swan's Casket Portrait Company in London produced Crystal Cube Miniatures or Casket Portraits in multiple forms, most being custom portraits, such as a very life-like portrait of the statesman Lord Brougham. A portrait of Sarah Anne Bennett was taken around 1865. [Funk]

Frederick Ives (1856–1937) patented his 'parallax stereogram' process on 25 September 1902 (although according to Eder he claimed to have invented it as early as 1885). Using line screen barriers rather than the later linear lenticulars, it was the first autostereoscopic process. After the grant of the patent the Scientific Shop in Chicago published seven of his parallax stereograms as stock images. Typical of these was his 1903 image of 'The Brigand', depicting a cowboy pointing a revolver directly at the viewer. This is the earliest autostereoscopic photo of a human so far located. This image is reproduced in 2D at George Eastman House. An autostereoscopic portrait of Ives himself, dated as 1902–1904, is reproduced in 2D at p27 of Timby.

The first hologram of a person (himself) was made by Lawrence D. Siebert of the Conductron Corporation on 31 October 1967, using a pulsed laser of his design. [Johnston, p207 (a photograph of this image is on p208); Bjelkhagen.]

Examples of spherical VR panoramic portraits, of male and female artists, may be found at Bohonus. The portraits—by Seattle photographer Bradford Bohonus—included spoken commentaries by the artists. They date from no earlier than 1996.

The earliest example of a 3D-printed portrait so far located was created in 1996 by Karin Sander (b. 1957) for the 1998 Triennale Kleinplastik (Seventh Triennial for Small Sculptures) (elsewhere given as 1997) in Fellbach, near Stuttgart, Germany, where she exhibited a 1/10th size figurine of the exhibition curator, Werner Meyer. Meyer was laser scanned for about twelve seconds, then the data set was additively printed by Glatz Engineering over thirty hours. [Schipper; Schröter]

 


 

First 3D photo of a woman

The stereo daguerreotype Portrait of a woman with a dog, by Alexis Gouin (d. 1855), at George Eastman House, is one of the earliest surviving, so far located. It is dated c. 1850.

Also dated c. 1850 is the stereo daguerreotype portrait of Mrs Clara Nicholson, by Antoine François Jean Claudet (1797–1867), held by the British Library.

 


 

First 3D portrait photo of a woman

The stereo daguerreotype Portrait of a woman with a dog, by Alexis Gouin (d. 1855), at George Eastman House, is the earliest surviving, so far located. It is dated c. 1850.

A 1920s photostéréosynthèse of Yvonne Lumière by Louis Lumière appears (in 2D) in Frizot (2000a, p149). According to Schröter, only twelve photostereosynthetic images survive, and all are portraits.

Lloyd Cross created a multiplex hologram of a woman called Lesley ____ in the summer of 1972, based on 35 colour slides taken over 15 minutes. [Cross's draft 'Story of Multiplex']

Roger de Montebello's integral photographic portrait of a woman appears in the History of Integral Imaging. It was made in 1977 by his patented 'Integram' system.

 


 

Earliest-born person to be photographed in 3D

There is a stereo card published by George N. Barnard, entitled "Old Maumer, aged 107 years, Charleston, S.C.", which is number 71 in a series of stereo views of the city and its vicinity. It depicts an elderly former slave, posed with a basket of wares. The card is reproduced by Maureen Taylor, from her own collection. Taylor believes the photo was taken around 1873, so if the age given is accurate this woman would have been born around 1766. Although the age could have been exaggerated, Taylor points out that the 1870 census for Charleston County, South Carolina, accounts for four black women born between 1762 and 1765, of whom 'Old Maumer' could have been one: Sue Alston (b. c. 1764), Betty Frazer (b. c. 1765), Maria Jefferson (b. c. 1762), and Dianah Vanderhorst (b. c. 1764).

[The 1865 'revolving self-portrait' by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (1820–1910—better known as 'Nadar') depicts 12 self-portrait photographs taken at 30° intervals around his circumference. Though clearly not taken simultaneously, the animation is surprisingly effective.]

A 1920s photostéréosynthèse of Yvonne Lumière (1907–1993) by Louis Lumière appears (in 2D) in Frizot (2000a), p149.

The earliest-born human being to be the subject of a lenticular portrait may have been the male subject of one of Frederick Ives's parallax stereograms: 'The Brigand', depicting a cowboy pointing a revolver directly at the viewer. This image is reproduced in 2D at George Eastman Museum. The cowboy appears to have been born no later than the 1870s. It may be more than coincidental that Ives's portrait went on sale in the same year as the release of the Edwin S. Porter film of The Great Train Robbery, which concludes with a strikingly similar image of a brigand pointing a gun into the lens. The two brigands have some facial similarities (not just the moustache!), so it's not impossible that Ives's sitter was Justus D. Barnes (1862–1946), who played the brigand in the famous scene in Porter's film. [A dealer online says the portrait is purportedly of Pat Garrett, who killed Billy the Kid, but I see no evidence for this] [Also see above.]

Probably the earliest-born human being to be the subject of a holographic portrait was Henry Allingham (1896–2009). Both holographic and lenticular portraits of him were made at Spatial Imaging's London studio in December 2005. See Spatial Imaging Portraits and Manufacturing Talk.

 


 

Earliest-born man to be photographed in 3D

Insufficient information yet located.  It seems unlikely that Charles Babbage (1791–1871), subject of the earliest stereoscopic portrait photo, was the earliest-born, as he would have been aged about 50 only.

 

Full references for printed works

Marta Braun (2010) Eadweard Muybridge. London: Reaktion Books

Sir David Brewster (1856) The Stereoscope. Its History, Theory, and Construction, with its application to the fine and useful arts and to education. London: John Murray

Josef Maria Eder (1932, tr. 1945) History of Photography, 3rd edn. New York: Dover

Michel Frizot (2000a) 'Photostéréosynthèse: a new approach to 3-D photography', in Françoise Reynaud, Catherine Tambrun and Kim Timby, eds (2000) Paris in 3D. From stereoscopy to virtual reality 1850–2000

Michel Frizot (2000b) 'Line screen systems', in Françoise Reynaud, Catherine Tambrun and Kim Timby, eds (2000) Paris in 3D. From stereoscopy to virtual reality 1850–2000

Sean F. Johnston (2006) Holographic Visions. A History of New Science. Oxford: OUP

Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman (2013) Fabricated. The New World of 3D Printing. Indianapolis: John Wiley

Denis Pellerin (2000) 'The origins and development of stereoscopy', and 'The anaglyph, a new form of stereoscopy', in Françoise Reynaud, Catherine Tambrun and Kim Timby, eds (2000) Paris in 3D. From stereoscopy to virtual reality 1850–2000

Françoise Reynaud, Catherine Tambrun and Kim Timby, eds (2000) Paris in 3D. From stereoscopy to virtual reality 1850–2000

Jens Schröter (2014) 3D. History, Theory and Aesthetics of the Transplane Image. New York and London: Bloomsbury Academic. [Originally published in German in 2009 as 3D: Zur Geschichte, Theorie und Medienästhetik des technisch-transplaned Bildes. Paderborn, Germany: Verlag Wilhelm Fink]

Maureen Taylor (2013) The Last Muster. Volume 2. Faces of the American Revolution. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press

Kim Timby (2015) 3D and Animated Lenticular Photography. Berlin and Boston: De Gruyter

Ray Zone (2007) Stereoscopic Cinema & the Origins of 3-D Film, 1838–1952. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky

 

© 2009–2016 Benjamin S. Beck

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This page was last revised on 2016-03-30.