It is clear from the experiment (above) that the two photographs were made from exactly the same camera position, and almost certainly with the same focal length lens. The only significant difference between them is that the man pointing, the horse, and the prostrate figure were all absent from the scene when the stereo was made. Other slight discrepancies may be ascribed to shadows moving due to the interval between the making of the two images, as well as wind-blown branches and vegetation. Our page with the stereoview may be seen here.
Stereo Camera, c. 1875
William H. Tipton Camera
We’ve have been unable to determine which make/model of camera Tipton was using for this work. But it’s likely that the camera was a glass-plate model, similar to the one to the left, with a removable lensboard. It’s probably that the dual-lens front lensboard could readily be replaced with a single-lens lensboard. If you click on the image of the c. 1875 camera (left) to enlarge the image, you’ll note that the lensboard is held in place by a single latch on its top edge.
It also may be possible that all ten images were photographed using stereo plates. Tipton could have made prints from either the left or the right side of each plate to provide Philippoteaux with the ten prints required for designing the cyclorama painting.
It seems highly unlikely that the images could so perfectly align if Tipton had removed the heavy wooden two-lens camera from his tripod and replaced it with a different, single lens camera.
Is there any way to confirm the details about his camerawork methodology? Access to the negatives would be helpful in this regard. Apparently the original negatives are with the National Archives.
Also… what does the sign say? It’s illegible in these images, even after an attempt at enhancement. Due to the location, it might have said “High Water Mark of the Rebellion,” or “Bloody Angle.” Or perhaps it was one of the signs marking brigade positions? Maybe “72nd PA Infantry.”
And… why was this specific spot one of those where Tipton/Philippoteaux directed one of their assistants to position himself as a fallen combatant? Was this simply to assist the painter in his perspective studies, or was the “dead body” intended to suggest the location of a specific battle casualty?
If you wish to respond to any of these questions, or if you wish to raise any issues of your own, please use the comments section below.