3-D Kids in a Candy Store- An absolutely wonderful afternoon with Stereographers Chris Dainty & Matt Infante in Aladdin’s Cave..

It was exactly a month ago to the day that I had the absolute pleasure of hosting a grand little impromptu get together with some world class stereographers at my apartment in NYC. An out of town stereographer friend contacted me about his NYC plans and wanted to schedule a visit on Thursday, March 30th, with both myself and my friend Matt Infante, a fellow NYC stereographer and P-SSC member extraordinaire who’s reputation obviously precedes him.

Pictured above are Matt Infante & Chris Dainty, sitting with what is most likely the worlds best med format stereo viewers and most likely the worlds worst cup of coffee.. NYC March 30th 2023.

Our of town guest of honor was a stereographer who came to visit us all the way from IRELAND! He has kept up correspondence with Matt and I in recent years and has been EXTREMELY GENEROUS to us both.

Prof. Chris Dainty!

I don’t often have an opportunity to use the word “delightful” when describing a person or a rendezvous, but the afternoon we spent together was just that, absolutely delightful! Chris Dainty and Matt Infante are truly the two most DELIGHTFUL persons Ive ever had the pleasure of “geeking out hardcore” with about 3-D. I highly recommend having them over as a pair if the opportunity ever presents itself… I’ve honestly never seen two boys more happy to be meeting each other, sitting down, talking and peering through viewers together. This is a review of our afternoon together. It is chock full of rare cameras and gear and a ton of mods, but it is also a tale about the power of community and the importance of connecting one on one with fellow stereographers. Our afternoon was so enlightening because everyone understood the power and impact of the visual communication that we practice. To understand and to be understood, is a very human need and I cannot stress the importance of community between stereographers hard enough. It is an essential element of stereoscopic communication that I never take for granted. Luckily for Matt & I, Chris Dainty understands this as well and it made for one very perfect afternoon together that really left an impact on me. It was also, quite frankly, absolutely adorable to watch Chris & Matt  become such fast friends at my dinner table and it warms my heart and makes me smile every time I think about how much they enjoyed each other’s company and stereos ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t get me wrong, I can be pretty charming myself, but these two boys were downright giddy to be together. Their stereo works spoke in ways that words will never be able to convey. It was something special to see. I hope by the end of this article, everyone will remember to take this point to heart- reach out to your fellow stereographers! Make new friends, learn from each other and of course, enjoy the work you can share together ๐Ÿ™‚

Matt and I know Chris from message boards and online correspondence and came to discover that he has been mailing both of us stereo cameras from across the pond-  I cannot be thankful enough to him for his generosity and am truly humbled by his faith in Matt and myself as solid investments for some of his well loved and very well maintained stereo cameras. I hope Matt and I can make you proud by them Chris, thank you SO much, from the bottom of my heart. We appreciate your thoughtful and wonderful gestures more then you can imagine ๐Ÿ™‚

We originally were to meet up with Chris in a coffee shop (Chris LOVES coffee) but realized it would be much easier for everyone to simply meet at my apartment. I had just enough time to straighten up a bit and bake up some brownies for my guests before they arrived. Even when everything in my apartment is 100% in order, it is still not for the feint of heart. Both my boyfriend Sam and I are serious collectors of our specific genres. I study all means and manners in which stereoscopic communication can be successfully communicated and my collection and work studio takes up one half of the apartment- a wall of 3D video games and displays, holograms, different optical materials, lenses, lasers and supplies, printing equipment, as well as a pretty serious stereo camera collection. Sam is a historic process photography expert and a professional wet plate photographer, he collects everything but stereoscopic cameras- his side of our single room studio apt is obviously shelved with large format cameras & antique lenses, Graflex’s, 8x10s, 4x5s, light meters, bellows, film holders, 90’s point & shoots, etc. We are certainly a pair of dragons protecting a cave full of treasures…

Chris Dainty referred to my apartment afterwards as “Aladdin’s Cave” and I’ll wear that proudly (but I’m going to pretend we are dragons because I still think dragons are cool).

Matt was the first to arrive, we of course chatted about 3-D stuff, ate Onogiri, I made some ramen (I make a mean bowl of ramen) we talked about his upcoming (now already past) stereo-education commitment he had at a NYC public school and of course I hooked him up with some gear from my private stash for his upcoming class, we will be posting an article about that soon ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chris Dainty arrived shortly afterwards and somehow the first thing he mentioned after our hello’s and how do you do’s was a VERY obscure holographic media display that I happen to have at the very top of my stereo display shelf. It is so obscure I believe I possess one of perhaps three known units, only two of which I know to be intact and working- called the Voxbox. I thought I must have posted something about a Voxbox previously on a message board we all frequent because it is literally THE most unlikely of items to inquire about when entering someone’s home, but apparently he spotted it the moment he walked in.

Showing Matt & Chris Dainty a Voxgram in the Voxbox, a holographic display system invented by Chris’s former postdoc over 30 years ago, Stephen Hart. Photo by Matt Infante, 2023

As it turns out, Chris Dainty is a retired professor of applied optics who taught at Imperial College on London over 30 years ago and Stephen Hart- the owner of Voxel inc and inventor of the Voxbox & it’s proprietary Voxel holograms- was one of Chris’s post-docs at Imperial College.

Prof Chris Dainty’s bio

What an amazing coincidence! I learned so much more about the origins and intentions for the Voxbox and the proprietary Voxgrams that were created for it. Voxgrams are multilayered, “volumetric”, stacked slice image transmission holograms that were specifically designed for viewing in the Voxbox displays. I’ve always known the Voxbox to be a specialized holographic imaging medical device, as many specialized 3-Dimensional displays are specifically designed for this super niche market. I always thought it was specifically designed to communicate medical MRI imaging, for surgeons to visually prepare for surgeries and to communicate these very delicate surgical procedures to patients via the volumetric, mid air, Voxgram MRI holograms of the surgical procedure surrounding the patient’s anatomy in question. Apparently, this was not its intended purpose upon design, it was simply the market it eventually found. This of course was incredibly interesting to hear.
If you would like to see a SUPER RARE non-medical imaging Voxgram hologram in its respective Voxbox viewer, please click the link below. My apologies for it not being stereo video, but holography has always been a format to translate to 2D very well due to it’s heavy monocular 3D cues.

https://www.instagram.com/reel/CeBqExTDFOk/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

A Voxgram of an MRI image of a human heart.

All optical, laser and hologram discussions took to the backseat immediately as soon as the boys started talking about stereo cameras and stereo photography. It was obvious that I was in the presence of two true stereo connoisseurs and thankfully I was in my own home and could choose the exact right cameras to “flex”. I pulled out one of the most obscure cameras from Sam’s side of the room, a camera that is relatively unknown in the realm of stereography. The Graph Check sequence camera. It never fails to stymie everyone I’ve ever shown it to.

The Graph-Check sequence camera is actually Sam’s camera and it’s a behemoth that has rightly been described as “Muybridge in a box” by another favorite professor of mine (who also teaches in London) Professor Nick Holliman. It’s an enormous and incredibly solid 8 lens sequential shooter with a 545 Polaroid back which can be changed out for 4×5 sheet film as well, has a beautiful built in grip, tons of adjustments and it’s still in its original case with all the internal fitted architecture. It’s a 3 lb. sequential/stereo showstopper.

The conversation at the table was quickly turning to medium format stereography so I grabbed my most prized of my medium formats, the Voightlander Stereflektoskop. It also happens to be 100 years old this year!

The camera is not exceedingly unknown. It is definitely a collectible because of it’s age and sports a highly coveted matched set of Heliar lenses, but what really makes this camera so exceptional is it’s 120 roll film back. It is almost always found with a plate glass back or magazine. Chris Dainty reconfirmed for me how very rare this roll film back actually is. If I ever thought to sell it as a seperate part, it might prove to be more valuable then the camera itself. I purchased this camera about 5 years ago from holography legend Bob Schlesinger. Sam and I made an Instagram video on National 3-D Day this year to educate our public about this historic stereo beauty and to celebrate it’s centennial. That video is located at the link below.

Nat 3-D Day 23 Voightlander Stereflektoskop video

When Chris originally contacted me about planning a visit, he specifically asked if it was possible to meet Matt as well, which was perfect, as Matt is one of the most active people in P-SSC and a good friend. Matt seems to be a very well known and highly respected stereographer by many of the serious stereographers that I personally respect and have come to know as mentors, he is indeed, a talented stereographer. Do give his Instagram account a follow if you haven’t yet, he is a WONDERFUL stereographer and much of his posted stereo content are scans from one of his med format methods like the Yashika twin rig or his 3D World med format camera pictured above. Perhaps even some Sputnik scans as well. The Sputnik is of course, the quintessential medium format stereo film camera, I don’t know a single person who shoots medium format stereo that doesn’t own one.

Matt Infante’s Instagram profile- Stereo.matt

We will have many new instalments on our twin rig article series very soon and we will surely include one on Matt’s Yashika rig. In the meantime please watch this three part video I shot of Matt for National 3-D Day this year, about his medium format 3D World camera which can be viewed in the links below. My apologies for the sound, we shot it at a MOBBED Brooklyn Film Camera event (& he introduced masses of people to stereography through his slides and his obviously crazy looking camera). There are some very unique camera mods and interesting info in each of the segments below, it’s definitely worth a watch for any 3D World owners or anyone wanting a basic overview of the camera.

Matt Infante Nat 3-D Day 23, 3D World review pt1

Matt Infante, Nat 3-D Day 23, 3D World pt2

Matt Infante, Nat 3-D Day 23, 3D World review pt3

Matt is also well known for modifying cameras, viewers and displays. He has very clean, DIY engineering skills.

The table started filling up with some amazing gear and Chris and Matt broke out their boxes of slides. I don’t have any scans of the images that were passed around, but I reccomend checking out Matt’s Instagram profile further down in the article and checking out the link to the 3D printed viewer that Chris provided.

Matt modified his light catching med format viewer with a battery operated, push button illuminated back panel. Even in well lit rooms, this simple and unobtrusive mod makes a world of difference when viewing stereo slides. Photo by Matt Infante

Matt brought his modified his 3D World medium format light catching viewer with a battery powered push button light panel on the back (the middle photo, above). I have always thought it to be one of the best all around 3D mods I’ve ever seen. It’s an incredibly simple, clean & effective mod for a light catching med format viewer. It holds its own in any room and it makes for some the easiest, most comfortable and portable med format viewing in absolutely any lighting condition. I personally think its an absolutely necessary mod to try considering the minimal amount of time and money required to undertake it. I believe Matt will be gracing us with a tutorial on it in the near future.

When Chris Dainty added his ante to the table, 3D school officially came into session. Out of a rather unassuming bag, Chris pulled out what looked to be some sort of heavily modded super Sputnik and a solid brick of a 3D printed medium format slide viewer. Neither Matt nor I had ever seen either one of these items before.

This 3D printed protective Sputnik case has all sorts of bells and whistles.. Photo by Chris Dainty

Chris’s Sputnik was in fact, housed in a protective, custom made, 3D printed outer Sputnik case (!!) with all sorts of bells and whistles attached. There was a spirit level, a beautiful supple leather strap and a digital light meter with a really bright, modern LED display. The 3D printed Sputnik case specs can be downloaded for free at the link below:

Sputnik Stereo 3d Camera Protecting Shell, Case by Djfx:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2462328



Chris also recommends the light meter he uses on his 3D printed case, which he fits into the shoe mount designed for a flash, in a recent email he said- “it’s an inexpensive but reliable mini exposure meter… search for โ€œL102 Light Meter Photographyโ€ on eBay or AliExpress”.

I can personally attest to these types of meters as well. Sam uses a very similar unbranded digital light meter. It is a key component for any film shooter, don’t leave home without one.

A quick search for L102 Light Meter Photography will provide you with tons of digital meter options to choose from

The viewer Chris brought, is very much an investment piece. It’s an exceptional viewer, boasting some of the clearest lenses I have ever seen on a portable handheld, an interchangable back panel for viewing digital stereo pairs on certain model smartphones OR an illuminated back, it had adjustable color temp for the light and more… it may very well be one of the most impressive viewers for medium format stereo slides. It truly makes a noticeable difference when viewing medium format.



The 3D printed viewer was made by Matej Bohac and can be found at the link below:

http://stereofotografie.matej.boha.cz/printed_stereoscope.php

Spec sheet of the components in the 3D printed interchangable medium format/phone viewer that Chris brought to show us.

Chris described the option he purchased in a recent email regarding the gear he brought to show us that afternoon, to quote Chris-

The version I have has 75mm focal length achromatic doublet lenses, the LED illuminated back and also the Sony XZ phone attachment (with phone).  I brought along a few on my travel MF slides (Venice, Lisbon) but was blown away my Mattโ€™s slides … he brought a box of them, we only got through a few โ€ฆ he is a really talented (stereo-)photographer!    We also looked at some slides stored on the Sony XZ phone, also impressive but the technical quality is not as good as transparency film.

Chris Dainty
Stereofotografie.cz is the website of Matej Bohac, please check it out!

Describing the difference between the experience of viewing a medium format stereo slide, to any other stereo format- even a realist format stereo slide- is an incredibly hard thing to do. I have always found the medium of stereo slide transparencies to be the most impactful, impressionable and transformative of all the stereo formats. Power and impact are a type of descriptive in the visual language of stereo communication, because they seem to be the underlying basis of how this particular visual language effects us. There are differences in power and impact between viewing digital stereo image pairs on a smartphone versus a photographic image pair on a stereoscope. There is a difference in impact when viewing a hologram, or a lenticular 3D image and there is certainly a difference in viewing a medium format stereo slide, a realist or 35mm slide and even a Viewmaster reel.

I’ve studied relationships between individual viewers and 3D mediums and formats for over half my life and while I believe a level of power and impact can certainly be conveyed by all of the dialects in the stereoscopic visual language, they do tend to universally experienced through particular mediums, such as stereo slide transparencies. All stereo slide transparencies seem to communicate with a certain level of impact and the nuances and levels of immersive-ness is quite notable in magnified viewers between the many formats and physical sizes of stereo slide transparencies. Medium format of course, is the largest of the standard sized stereo transparencies and a quality viewer with good lenses & proper focal length will immerse your entire field of vision in the images that can be indistinguishable from your actual perrifery range, only notable in body alone that the images you are viewing are in actuality, not real, due to the accomodations/vergence factor. Viewing these exceptional formats in something like a high end viewer does make a difference, even having an adjustment for light intensity and color temp can make for the most “tuned in” of believable realities when viewing med format slides

Even to this day, with all the efforts I take to be able to view the massive variety of stereo formats first hand, there is still nothing that is able to communicate visual information or make such an incredibly palpable emotional impact, as the medium format stereo slide.

Our afternoon was filled with exceptional gear, exceptional people and the exceptional work of medium format stereographers Matt Infante and Chris Dainty. While there is no way to properly convey the impact of the medium format stereo slide images that were viewed that day through words or by any digital means, perhaps this post might inspire some of you to revisit the stereo slide format or dive into it for the first time all together. It is an experience unlike any other and it needs to be seen first hand, preferably in the company of good friends & fellow stereographers ๐Ÿ™‚ Matt & I both wrote candid reviews on our Instagram accounts, his can be found here https://www.instagram.com/p/Cqdzx2Dudvr/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y= mine can be found here https://www.instagram.com/p/Cqdzx2Dudvr/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

I hope everyone reading can take away something special from this recount of our afternoon together. If you happen to be a stereographer of any sort and in or around NYC, or are planning a visit and would like to meet up for a PARALLAX-SHIFT Stereo Club meeting or simply hang out, reach out to us! We have a community of simply LOVELY people who have incredibly diverse pursuits in stereoscopic communication. Everyone is welcome to learn, to share and to enjoy 3D of all kinds with us!

Thank you for reading! –ilicia