Among the aerial roots of a single banyan tree 1000 ft. in circumference, Calcutta, India
Photographer: Ricalton, James
Medium: Photographic print
Stereoscopic photograph of a banyan-tree in the Botanical Gardens at Calcutta in West Bengal, taken by James Ricalton in c. 1903, from The Underwood Travel Library: Stereoscopic Views of India. This image is described by Ricalton in 'India Through the Stereoscope' (1907), "We are among the aerial roots, or among the multiple trunks of the largest and most celebrated banyan in India and probably the world...We can see at this moment but a small portion of the area covered by this tree; there are two hundred and thirty-two of these aerial roots, many of them as large as ordinary trees. Its wide-spreading crown overhead covers three acres. The main trunk is about fifty feet in circumference. It was sixty-eight years old when visited by Sir J. D. Hooker in 1850, making it at the present time about one hundred and fourteen years. It is now in vigorous growth and promises well for another century." This is one of a series of 100 photographs, designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect. The series was sold together with a book of descriptions and a map to enable the 'traveller' to imagine that he was touring around India. Stereoscopic cameras, those with two lenses and the ability to take two photographs at the same time, were introduced in the mid 19th century and revolutionised photography. They cut down exposure time and thus allowed for some movement in the image without blurring as subjects were not required to sit for long periods to produce sharp results.