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Grasses at whose feet men are like insects - bamboos in Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, India

Grasses at whose feet men are like insects - bamboos in Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, India

Photographer: Ricalton, James

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1903

Shelfmark: Photo 181/(53)

Item number: 53

Length: 8.9

Width: 17.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Photograph

Stereoscopic photograph of bamboos 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), "The bamboo belongs to the grass family and has been called the King of Grasses; yet from its structure and its great size it may properly be called a tree; and if classed according to its manifold utilitarian purposes it may easily be called the most useful tree in the world...In many tropical and sub-tropical countries one can scarcely imagine how the inhabitants could live without the bamboo; it is their food, their shelter, their clothing; it is their staff of life." This is one of a series of 100 photographs, designed to be viewed through a special binocular viewer, producing a 3D effect, which were sold together with a book of descriptions and a map. 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.

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