Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Glendalough: The Gateway

Some time ago I was invited to speak at an event in south County Dublin and, seeing that I had some time on my hands and was in the right general vicinity, I took the opportunity to carry on to the end of the M50 and off into Wicklow to renew my acquaintance with the wonderful monastic site at Glendalough.* Last time I’d been there was when I was an undergraduate, so a return visit was long overdue.

Glendalough (the valley of the two lakes) was founded by St Kevin in the 6th century. However, none of the standing structures date to this early time. The gateway is a unique survival. Today it is a roofless structure with rather fine granite arches in the north and south walls, along with projecting ante. It appears to originally have been two-stories tall and had a wooden roof. Just inside the gateway, and butted up against one of the ante, there is an incised cross on a large sub-rectangular stone that is usually interpreted as demarcating the boundary of the sanctuary.

To document my excursion, I also brought along my camera, tripod, and an adjustable mounting that allows me to slide the camera along the focal plane. When used together, I can capture near-identical photographs that are then combined (with the right software) to create 3D anaglyph images. In this series of posts I’m going to present a number of my images and place the 3D shots in a set of dedicated appendices. While I’ve been fascinated with 3D photography for most of my life – and actually taking 3D images for several years now – I had a special reason for wanting to try it out here. Some time previously I had seen a number of late 19th/early 20th century stereogram images of the gateway at Glendalough and it impressed me that there had once been a time when such sets of views were a common tourist purchase. While tourists and pilgrims still come to the site, stereograms have had their day. It just lodged in my head that the next time I got to Glendalough, I’d take 3D shots. Ironically, not one of my attempts to get a viable 3D shot of this gateway actually paid off.** Instead, (and with the permission of the owner, Conor McDermott) I append the original stereograms reconfigured as single-image anaglyphs.

* For a given value of ‘general’

** To be most effective, this method of creating anaglyphs depends on the camera being the only thing to move between shots. Thus, where there is substantial movement of people or even swaying foliage, the results can range from 'minor annoyance' to 'completely unusable'. Unfortunately, my photographs of the Glendalough gateway fell into the latter category. Maybe next time ...

Much of the detail about the individual sites has been rather shamelessly taken from some excellent sites & I urge you to go and explore them too:

To view the 3D Images you’ll need a pair of red/blue glasses. These can be purchased relatively cheaply from Amazon [here].

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