March 2015

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Charley Van Pelt 1921-2015

Charley Van Pelt
Charley Van Pelt (Photo courtesy of Wolfgang Sell)

Longtime View-Master® photographer Charley Van Pelt passed away on Feb. 24, 2015 at the age of 94.

Several of Charley's acquaintances posted remembrances upon hearing the news.

"For those of you who never got to meet Charley, I want to give you a bit of his history. He started as a View-Master salesman in 1947 and also became one of the main View-Master scenic photographers. He later ran the scenic division and kept it going as a private contractor long after the company had given up. A large percentage of the images in the scenic packets, especially the blister cards of the USA, were his images. He, like most of the View-Master photographers and artists, are the best known yet unknown 3-D legends. People know the work yet have no idea who created it." - Wolfgang Sell

"I considered Charley one of my closest friends. His death is a devastating blow. A giant in the field of 3-D and a wonderful person. As I tear up over his passing I am happy to know he will always be remembered through his many contributions to View-Master." - MaryAnn Sell

"Sorry to hear this. I appointed Charlie as my VP when I was president of the LA stereo club. He was a good photographer and good man." - Steve and Anna Berezin

"RIP Charley. A wonderful man that I was lucky to have met at NSA." - George Themelis

"We lost a great friend. Wonderful guy to work with. He will be missed." - Dan Shelley

"Charley helped me through the process of working with the View-Master factory when I produced the Branson, Missouri View-Master set. Sad to hear about his passing." - Van Beydler

" Charlie was a great guy. I always looked forward to chatting with him at the trade show. Very sad to have lost both him and David Lee this week." - Les Gehman

" I didn't know him well, but he was always so fun and cheerful to talk to at the conventions. He will be missed." - Randy Ridings

" He was admired and loved by many." - Larry Gerguson

"Just about the nicest man. Such a joy to be around." - Cassie Kaufman

" Charley was a great friend to many of us. This is a great loss to the 3-D community." - Larry Moor

"Our condolences to the Van Pelt family and friends." - Gretchen Gruber Harmon

Charley Van Pelt - Photo taken with a View-Master Personal camera at a demonstration the the 50's. (Photographer unknown)

Charley co-authored the book View-Master Memories with Wolfgang and MaryAnn Sell. View-Master Memories chronicles the history of View-Master from it's very beginning. The first edition of the 300-page paperback book was published in 2000 with a reprint published in 2007.

View-Master Memories cover art

One of Charley's last View-Master photographic projects was the four-card Lewis & Clark Trail set. Charley also produced an interactive CD that acted as the "booklet" for the 4-card series.

Lewis and Clark View-Master 4-card set

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Boris Vallejo's 3-D Magic® (1995)

Boris Vallejos 3-D Magic cover art

In September 1995, publisher Stewart Tabori & Chang released Boris Vallejo's 3D Magic. The book capitalized on converting some of the artist's work to the Magic Eye format, which uses free-viewing techniques to see a 3-D effect.

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SplitDepthGIFs Give a 3-D Effect

SplitDepthGIFs use a trick of perspective to make it look like seconds-long animated GIFs are in 3-D. Here are some examples of this new technique posted on the Web.

SplitDepthGIF Star Wars
Star Wars

SplitDepthGIF Iron Man
Iron Man

SplitDepthGIF Captain America
Captain America

SplitDepthGIF Doctor Who
Doctor Who

If you want to create you own SplitDepthGIFs, here are the instructions to use Adobe® Photoshop® to make them and links to a couple of online creation tools.

Adobe Photoshop
For those who know how to use the Animated GIF timeline in Photoshop, this should be an easy, although time consuming, process.

  1. Open your Animated GIF in Photoshop, find the animation toolbar (Window - Animation).
  2. Click on first frame in animation window and find the active layer in layers toolbar.
  3. Make a new, empty layer above active layer, draw the white lines in it.
  4. Copy the white lines layers above each frame (about 50 additional layers in this gif).
  5. With eraser tool remove white lines from parts where the object overlaps them.
  6. Make sure that the right white lines layer is activated for each frame (the eye icon next to layer).

Split Level
A JAVA based application

Upload a GIF and transform it online

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Requiem - The Dance of the Dead Offers a Stereoscope Made from Real Human Bones

Requiem portfolio

Circa Photographics, Ltd. is set to publish Requiem - The Dance of the Dead, by photographer, sculptor and art historian Lance Speer in mid-2015. The project is a marriage of photography, sculpture, fine bookmaking, fine cabinetry, art history, literature and poetry.

The book/portfolio set is comprised of two intricately related elements, a 950-page book with more than 1,000 graphic depictions of the Dance of Death motifs of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance and The Dance of the Dead portfolio of 24 contemporary stereographs printed on archival papers individually a hand bound portfolio in french goatskin and etched black stained glass,

Requiem portfolio
Requiem - The Dance of the Dead portfolio, viewer and stereographs

The 24 Dance of the Dead 3-D photographs, shot with a concealed stereographic camera in shopping malls, serve as a contemporary abstract interpretation of the Dance of the Dead motif.

The book set/portfolio edition is limited to 100 signed and numbered sets. Each set contains:

  • 24 original stereographs
  • A folding stereoscope adjustable for viewing the portfolio and book stereographs
  • Oversized signed and numbered two-book set (13" x 11" each) with 950+ pages
  • 1,000+ images in full color and monochrome including more htan 450 full-size stereographs
  • Custom printed on Mohawk Superfine archival papers
  • Individually hand-bound in fine etch black stained glass and black French goatskin
  • Presented in a custom-embossed black silk portfolio case

Limited edition sets of The Dance of the Dead portfolio are accompanied by something that some might consider quite morbid...a hand-made stereoscope sculpted from human bone and precious metals including sterling silver, 18k gold, and platinum. The artist's vision is by using a fully-functional stereoscope made from a human skull and bones, the viewer peers through Death's own eyes to view the 3-D world of the dead captured in the Dance of the Dead stereographs. The viewer set is limited to a release of 12 worldwide. The gold viewer contains more than 8 pounds of 18K gold. The silver viewer contains more than 5 pounds of sterling silver.

Human bone stereoviewer
Human bone stereoviewer

18K gold stereoviewer
18k gold stereoviewer

Sterling silver stereoviewer
Sterling silver stereoviewer

An even more limited edition is available with the viewers housed in a mahogany reliquary. There are only two signed and numbered Gold Editions and one artist's proof and four signed and numbered Silver Editions and two artist's proofs.

Bone and 18k gold stereoviwer in mahogany reliquary

Bone and 18k gold stereoviwer in mahogany reliquary

Requiem prospectus
A portion of the 36-page Requiem Prospectus

The publisher has already offered a fully illustrated color prospectus for Requiem - The Dance of the Dead on an online auciton site. This elegant, hand-constructed folder contains 36 custom printed color pages that fully describe one of the most unique stereoscopic projects the world has ever seen. Stunning color photographs vividly illustrate the content and quality of the project.

Very few connoisseurs and collectors will own any of the actual sets, and the custom prospectus is itself both a work of art and a unique artifact of stereoscopic history. Specific edition information is included in each prospectus in English, French, German, Spanish and Mandarin.

According to the publisher, it costs upwards of $40 to produce each prospectus - one at a time and by hand - in terms of materials, time, labor and mailing costs. Above and beyond the collectibility of this elegant packet, anyone purchasing this elaborate prospectus should plan on a dynamic dialog about this entire project, as the artist/publisher is very interested in continuing the conversation, answering any questions, and the possibility of setting up an opportunity to preview the book set and stereoscopes to see the extraordinary quality and unique content of the project.

Requiem tintype stereoview
Lance Speer Stereo Photographer Requiem The Dance of Death tintype

An original hand-made stereo tintype of matching stereoscopes in human bone and 18k solid gold was also available through an online auction. This stereo tintype is in a limited edition of 75 copies with only 20 copies for sale, and each is hand-mounted, numbered and signed by the artist. Each tintype will have slight variations due to the inherent nature of the process, yet all examples will be of the highest quality. Each tintype will be custom made per each order, and thus the buyer may experience a one to three week period before delivery. These stereo tintypes were listed at $125 each and the sale included a copy of the full Requiem prospectus.

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Auction Results

Kenesaw Landis stereoview

A stereoview of Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Czar of Organized Baseball sold for $350 with one bid. The stereoview shows Landis in a characteristic pose leaning on the rail from the stands at a Yankees vs. Cubs 1932 World Series game in Chicago, Illinois.

Mark Twain stereoview

A Mark Twain stereoview sold for $432 with nine bids. The view shows a young Mark Twain in his trademark white linen suit sitting in a gazebo with a woman, probably his wife, and another couple. Estimated date of the image is the 1880s. It is marked in vintage pencil on the back as "Mark Twain Group",

CPRR Railroad stereoview
Snow Shed Sierra Mtns. C.P.R.R

A collection of 10 Utah, Colorado, California and western stereoviews sold for $535.25 with six bids. The seller has been a stereograph collector for a number of decades, and has rarely seen such a richly printed set of views in such great condition. Very sharp, fantastic contrast, rich purplish-brown albumen tonalities, no bad fixing/fading, and those are just the physical attributes.

There are no maker's marks on the views but each have hand-written descriptions on the back of each card. The images depict towns and scenery centered around the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads, and some of the finest compositions include tracks that wind their way through spectacular landscapes.

  1. California Views - Snow Shed Sierra Mtns. C.P.R.R.
  2. Utah Views - East side of Temple[?] St. - Salt Lake City
  3. Utah Views - Wahsack [Wasatch] Mountains from Brigham Young Residence
  4. Utah Views - Kanarra Canyon
  5. Utah Views - Lone Peak, American Fork Canyon
  6. Colorado Views - Gateway at the Garden of the Gods - Pikes Peak in Distance
  7. U.P.R.R Views - Pyramid Rock, and part of Yuma[?] River City
  8. Nevada Co. Narrow Gauge R.R. [railroad]
  9. Colorado Views - Clear Creek Canyon up from Grundy Bend
  10. Colorado Views - Mother Grundy Profile Rocks

East side of Temple[?] St. - Salt Lake City

Utah Views - Wahsack [Wasatch] Mountains from Brigham Young Residence

Utah Views - Kanarra Canyon

Utah Views - Lone Peak, American Fork Canyon

Colorado Views - Gateway at the Garden of the Gods - Pikes Peak in Distance

U.P.R.R Views - Pyramid Rock, and part of Yuma[?] River City

Nevada Co. Narrow Gauge R.R. [railroad]

Colorado Views - Clear Creek Canyon up from Grundy Bend

Colorado Views - Mother Grundy Profile Rocks

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