The Photographic Historical Society of Canada

Stereo Stories
Christopher Schneberger
Program date: September 17, 2008

Schneberger by Lansdale
Chris Schneberger
by Robt Lansdale

Chris Schneberger web site
Web Site

Dr Addision Office Crosswell Twins Crosswell Twins Crosswell TwinsCrosswell Twins
Crosswell Twins

Sputnik Camera
Sputnik Camera
TL-120-1 Camera

View-Master Reels
View-Master Sets

Chris Schneberger of Chicago is a master of stereo photography and a master story teller. With over 20 years experience he teaches photography at Columbia College in Chicago, and at the Evanston Art Center. Curiosity about stereo photography in the late 1990s took him in an interesting direction resulting in his visual short stories. These in turn brought him to the attention of the larger community of stereo photographers including the prestigious National Stereographic Association (NSA). For a quick experience visit Chris’s web site .

"The Strange Case of Dr. Addison and the Crosswell Twins" takes place on a well-to-do estate which was ideal for the outdoor shots. Interior scenes were shot in his studio after adding period wall paper and furniture. These props were later transported to the gallery for the exhibition. The story tells of the untimely death of one twin and her subsequent appearance to the surviving girl. A Doctor Addison disappears while attempting to disprove the exisitence of the ghost twin. The exhibition at the Flatfile Gallery in Chicago followed the tradition of historical museums showing the recreation of Dr. Addison’s c1908 office. The story was written in a “museum” script, framed, and hung along with the prints to add authenticity.

When he first thought up the story, he had twin teen-age students in his class who looked young enough for the part. By time he started the project, they had grown up and moved on. He mentioned his ideas in class at Columbia, and a student suggested twins who were in their early 20s but looked much younger so they became the “Crosswell” models. Later, Chris realized he could have used one girl since he shot them individually in two exposures.

His second show, “A Case of Levitation: The Story of Frances Naylor", was the result of a visit to the “Crosswell” exhibition by a lady from Evanston, Illinois who lives in a Victorian house. She invited him to give a show in her house which she uses for the occasional gallery exhibition. Chris loved the house and location - a big factor in deciding to mount an exhibit there. Researching the house at a local historical society, Chris learned that it was once the home of the Naylor family – his lively imagination provided a story for them. The exhibit pretends to recreate the time frame when the Levitation took place, making use of the fact the house has been restored to c1920s. Continuing with his fascination for ghost photography, Chris dreamed up a daughter for the Naylors, a daughter who had lost her legs and briefly learned to levitate.

Levitation Levitation Levitation Levitation Levitation
A Case of Levitation: The Story of Frances Naylor

In each story fact and fiction are cleverly woven together to offer an interesting tale. While fictitious, the execution of the stories lends credence to the possibility that they may in someways be true - narration in the voice of an historical curator, birth and death dates, family details, etc. In both narratives, the stereo image is a key part of the story, being used in the “Crosswell Twins” by Dr Addision to try to disprove the “ghost twin” and in “Levitation” by Mr Naylor to record his daughter’s brief ability to levitate. The narratives are exquisitely created. The plot is outlined on a story board, then the scenes are photographed with the appropriate props, costumes and models. Each finished story is pulled together with voice over and a music track. Leaving the stories open ended adds some mystery.

Chris shoots each scene with a medium format stereo camera. Initially he used a Russian stereo camera, the Gomz Sputnik from the 1950s/60s. The camera is a three lens camera, one viewing lens and the two taking lenses. All photos were created from multiple exposures on film. You can learn more about the Sputnik Camera at these sites: Camera Modifications Images from the Sputnik More Images The Living Image Vintage Camera Museum Sputnik Camera Manual Specification of the Sputnik Camera

Currently he uses a modern Chinese medium format stereo camera called the "TL-120", made by 3D World of China. The camera has the same look and style as the Sputnik. A newer version, the TL-120-1 is now available. More pictures and information are provided on the Dr T 3-d website (Dr T is the nick-name for George Themelis, editor of "Dimensions Three" in 2004).

The negatives were scanned to digital and modified, then converted to anaglyphs, in Photoshop. A typical sequence consisted of photographing a scene in stereo with his camera on a tripod. One exposure with the girl in the scene and one without. The scanned images were then imported to Photoshop where layers and masks removed the girl’s legs or faded the ghost twin, added shadows, corrected the stereo “right” and “left” views, etc. Chris has no problem with ghosting in his stereo images. (Ghosting is when the left image bleeds into right image and vice versa. It occurs most often in high contrast areas of an image.) Careful alignment of the stereo images, and the use of Photoshop to tone down high contrast areas eliminates the possibility of ghosting.His stories are reproduced in various media - the web, a published book, annotated view-master reel sets, and as auto run Proshow slide-shows for Windows.

Visit Chris’s web site to see complete outlines of the stories and the images. Both finished stories can be purchased as a set of View-Master reels while the Levitation story is also available as a small book with a selection of images in both 2-D and 3-D anaglyphs. Note that a third story, "Magic and Murder at the Candy Factory", is also available on Chris's web site.

This page was designed in Dreamweaver CS4 on an iMac running OS X 10.5 (Leopard). Unless otherwise noted, images on this page are courtesy of Chris Schneberger adjusted for this site in Adobe Photoshop CS4. The images are ©2008 by Christopher Schneberger and may not be used without his permission. Contents and portrait of Mr Schneberger are ©2008 by the Photographic Historical Society of Canada and may be used freely provided the source is clearly indicated. The image of the Sputnik camera is from ArsCamera - Vintage Russian Cameras. The image of the TL-120 is from George Themelis's web site. Copies of photographs displayed during this presentation may not be used without the copyright holder's permission. Contact PHSC at if you would like more information on the items discussed on this page.

Bob Carter

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