My father was a keen amateur photographer. He was fascinated by Stereoscopic photography and had a beautiful, mahogany instrument with twin lenses, a ground glass screen and plate holders which held two 3¼ × 5½ plates side by side.
Taking a photograph was quite a palaver. The camera was heavy and needed to be steady and level in order to take a photo; moreover, you had to frame your scene and focus accurately, viewing the picture upside down on the ground glass before replacing it with the plate holder, so a tripod and a black cloth to cover one’s head were essential.
He developed and printed all of these photos himself and we had a large cupboard set up as a darkroom. I often helped him in this and it is probably the excitement of seeing a picture magically appear (in the dim red light which was all that was allowed) which first turned me on to the magic of taking photographs.
Stereoscopic photography has its own special magic. One of my father’s favorite subjects was a gently smoking bonfire and, looking at the two photographs through the special viewer, which allows each eye to see a slightly different image, you can see the intricacies of the wreathing smoke perfectly.