Looking into, not at, 3D photos in Maynard

Ron Labbe's 'Let Ron Do It' will be at Maynard's Gallery Seven as part of the 'Stereo Stills' exhibit opening Tuesday. Ron Labbe's "Let Ron Do It" will be at Maynard's Gallery Seven as part of the "Stereo Stills" exhibit opening Tuesday.
By Nancy Shohet West
Globe Correspondent / August 25, 2011

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To hear its practitioners talk about it, you almost get the impression that they’ve discovered the next frontier in media. But in fact, stereoscopic, or 3D, photography has been around for more than 150 years.

Although among the general population, it will probably never again enjoy the popularity it had at the turn of the century, a solid core of photography enthusiasts in New England have been rediscovering it in recent years: They even have a club called the Depthmen.

The group is exhibiting samples of 3D photography at Gallery Seven in Maynard later this month and through October.

Viewing stereoscopic images requires special implements, which is probably why it has never gained much momentum as an art form. At the gallery exhibit, a variety of viewing devices will be used, including 35mm transparencies backlit in pairs, large format lenticular images where the lenses are built into the photo, polarized glasses like those used at 3D movies, and an arcade-style viewer.

With all of these devices and methods, one person at a time looks into each viewer, making it very different from the more conventional museum or gallery experience of viewing art on a wall as part of a crowd.

Ron Labbe is one of the founding members of the Depthmen and coordinated the Gallery Seven exhibit. His involvement in 3D photography began four decades ago.

“When I was attending Mass College of Art in the late ’70s, I liked to collect old toys at flea markets,’’ he said. “Several years after graduation, I found a View-Master toy with a brochure which advertised ‘Take your own 3D pictures with our View-Master stereo camera’! I contacted the company that owned View-Master at the time, but they said the camera hadn’t been made for many years. They advised me of a club in California, which led me to subscribe to a small publication called REEL 3D News. Through one of the classified ads, I bought a Realist stereo camera and viewer in late 1980s.

“I shot my first roll of film at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, and was absolutely hooked when I gazed at the finished photos in the stereo viewer.’’

Bob Karambelas got his start in 3D photography from group members Max Alexander and Dan Gosch in the 1980s, when they were all part of Providence’s art scene. As technology evolved, he moved along to digital photography, but then, Karambelas said, he “grew tired of the camera taking the picture.’’

He began to experiment taking 3D photos of local bands; today he is regionally recognized as a band photographer in conventional photography, but when he has the chance he still shoots in 3D.

“It’s really like a completely different medium of expression,’’ he said. “It’s like looking through a window at a diorama. You see the scene from front to back.’’

Or, as exhibiting artist Jon Golden, whose background prior to discovering 3D photography was as a sound engineer, puts it, “ manipulating sound in the audio spectrum to create the illusion of space is analogous to creating 3D images that depict space you look into, and not at.’’

To Max Alexander, who also dates his involvement with 3D photography to the 1980s, there’s a way in which this kind of art connects him with his heritage.

“I come from a family of model makers,’’ he said.

“One technique in 3D photography that really interests me is hyperstereoscopic, which is where you use two cameras and experiment with the distance between them. It enables you to get the perspective of a giant. So when I take a photo in midtown Manhattan and then make it look like a miniature, it reminds me of the train models that my father used to create.’’

The artists’ 3D photography, called “Stereo Stills,’’ will be on exhibit at Gallery Seven, 7 Nason St., Maynard, from Tuesday through Oct. 29, with an artists’ reception on Sept. 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. For hours and other information about Gallery Seven and upcoming exhibitions, call 978-897-9777 or go to

MORE ART ON EXHIBIT: Alison Wells, a Trinidadian mixed media and acrylics painter, will be showcasing her artwork at the Brookline Arts Center in a solo exhibition titled “Home is Memory, Memory is Now,’’ from Monday through Oct. 7. The opening reception will be held Sept. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Recently, Wells has had solo exhibitions in Trinidad’s Normandie: the Gallery 1234, and displayed her work at the World Exposition in Shanghai in 2010 to represent Trinidad and Tobago. The exhibit will be on view at the Brookline Arts Center, 86 Monmouth St., Brookline. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. Admission is free and open to public. For more information, call 617-566-5715 or visit

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Hopkinton is hosting an exhibit of the Artists of the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center at the CAA Gallery, 98 Hayden Rowe in Hopkinton through Sept. 7. For the past 14 years, the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center has provided emotional and physical support for individuals with disabilities and their families. Exhibit hours are weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free. For more information, call 508-435-1222 or visit

BREAK A LEG!: Theatre with a Twist Inc. is holding auditions this month for fall performances. Adults are invited to audition for an upcoming production of “Bell, Book & Candle,’’ the play that inspired the 1970s sitcom “Bewitched,’’ tonight from 7 to 9. Actors ages 16 and older are invited to audition for the upcoming performance of “A Chorus Line’’ next Wednesday, and Thursday, 7 to 9 p.m. All auditions are at 3 Post Office Square in Acton, and preregistration is required.

Contact to preregister before your audition. For all productions, a fee of $15 applies to all who audition. If cast, a $15 membership fee will also apply. For more information, go to

JAZZ IN LINCOLN: Jazz Keyboardist Mark Kross, a fixture on Boston’s jazz scene for decades, is appearing every Tuesday night on the terrace at AKA Bistro at 145 Lincoln Road., Lincoln, from 6 to 9. No cover charge. For more information, call 781-259-9920 or go to

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