Lorne Shields and the Velocipede in 3D

Lorne Shields by Robert Lansdale

Lorne Shields by Robert Lansdale

TorontoWe had a relatively big turnout Wednesday to hear Lorne’s talk.  Bob Lansdale counted some 50+ members and public in attendance. Lorne is a well-known and respected authority on bicycle history who has spoken widely in North America and Europe on that subject. He has been a member of the PHSC for two decades and has blessed us with various talks on multiple occasions. My thanks to Lorne for reading this review and making the necessary corrections. 

Lorne began his talk with a brief review of bicycling’s prehistory; Manumotive and Pedimotive mechanisms with rotating wheels that eventually developed into the earliest cycles.  Tonight Lorne used mostly anaglyphs created from authentic contemporary stereo cards to show the evolution of the velocipede and its eventual transition into early high wheel or penny-farthing bicycles. 

While the earliest designs could be shown nicely as line drawings on book pages, the actual machines were either far too heavy or cumbersome to be practical. The two wheeled velocipede was a success as the machine was much lighter, easily steered and effectively propelled by pedals and cranks at the front wheel.

Lorne noted that all of the stereo cards and images are from his collection. He made specific mention of Felix Russo, editor of photoed magazine, who graciously converted these 150 year stereo cards into modern anaglyph images thus allowing viewing in 3D while using a digital projector.  It was explained that conversion of a Stereo view to an Anaglyph image for use in a 3D presentation presented many challenges.  Some Stereo cards were manufactured with a distinct curve which necessitated the card having to be flattened with use of a heavy weight above while scanning in order to capture the image appropriatelyPhotoshop was used to carefully align and convert layers from the right and left sides into the traditional red and blue colours necessary to make the Anaglyph image.

Many treasured early tissue mount stereo cards were hand coloured and unfortunately the use of colours impeded the successful creation of an anaglyph file. For example, red tones would appear white under a red filter and black under a blue filter.  When viewed in Anaglyph the true red tones appeared as a solid black mass rendering the image’s use in the presentation impossible.   To get around this he could only scan the surface of the image and by necessity, sadly avoid using the lovely background coloration as originally intended.  Another problem which had to be overcome was getting proper registration the faded images on some of the views.

Felix brought disposable 3D cardboard glasses with one red and one blue cellophane-like lens.  Each audience member took one pair. I used mine to cover my camera lens with the blue lens, using an elastic band to hold it in place. Before beginning, Lorne asked that no one except Ed or I be allowed to record or photograph his talk and slides – necessary since he wished to avoid finding unauthorized pictures scattered throughout the web.

We enjoyed the next 45 minutes of slides in 3D accompanied by Lorne’s talk explaining the critical importance of each image. We saw the evolution of the historic velocipede as it moved from a curiosity, to a toy of the wealthy, then on to a common and popular means of transportation and sport. The two wheeled, crank driven velocipede set the stage for the design and subsequent innovation of bicycles in years to come.

Lorne’s talk ended with the beginnings of the bicycles, showing velocipedes mixed with penny-farthing bicycles and two wheeled more traditional “safety” bicycles.

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