Feb 4, 1950 - Jan 28, 2015 (64 years old)
Fine Art 3-D Photographer
David M. Lee
David M. Lee
Beaver Pond (Lundy Canyon, Mono County) by David M Lee
Self-Portrait in Death Valley
Spiral Stairs (Alcatraz)
San Jose City Hall
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Hearst Mining Building
Half Dome from Glacier Point
Fallen Aspen (Mono County)
David kneeling with Rebecca Lee LeiaPix_2x1
View from Swing Bridge
Trees at Cascade Creek
Half Dome with Clouds
Tree and Rock Wall
Log and Oxalis, Big Basin, Santa Cruz, California
Fallen Tree and Half Dome
Arch (Perugia, Italy)
Small Tree, Yosemite
Bridal veil Cascade with Ice
Pool of Light
2012_07_xx NSA Costa Mesa, CA David M. Lee
by Stephanie Ann Blythe
David M. Lee by Georgette Freeman
Echium Pininana, Seacliff Beach
Top of Half Dome LeiaPix_2x1
Tenaya Creek with Boulder
Matched Set of Handmade 4x5 cameras - LeiaPix_2x1
David M. Lee with twin camera set-up
Aspens and Stream
Handmade Stereo Camera for Roll Film - LeiaPix_2x1
Dead Tree, Yosemite
David M. Lee portrait by Deborah Kogan - LeiaPix_2x1 2
The Society and Beyond
from Stereo World, Mar/Apr 2015 issue
The Stereoscopic Society of America
and the Wider, Deeper World of Today's Stereographers
by David Kuntz
The SSA, and the 3-D community
as a whole, lost one of its most preeminent members when David M. Lee passed away earlier this year , after a year-long battle with ALS. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that David was one of the very finest artists currently working
in the medium of 3-D, and his extraordinary images, particularly his black and white landscape photography, were always a major attraction when they appeared
at the 3D-Con art gallery.
David was a quiet and soft spoken individual, and though many of us admired his work, very few of us were privileged to know him well.
In fact, my guess is that readers who cannot place him by name would instantly recognize his photography (and the viewer he created for viewing large 3-D prints). Following are the personal recollections of some of his friends in the NSA, as well as others who knew him through the SSA folios.
There is no question that David Lee had a true gift of taking a photo and was one of the best 3-D photographers. His black and white stereo views and his large "Hyper View" images are all works of art.
When David passed on January 28, 2015, SSA lost a Master, who was always ready to teach others. David had been a member of several SSA folios and a former circuit secretary.
He was in Cassie's Feline stereo card
folio and often wrote her encouraging comments on her submission envelopes. I always looked forward to seeing his
current entry. Several years ago,
David published stereo cards that he
would regularly send out to interested collectors. I bought many of his views, but unfortunately David got involved in other projects and he
discontinued sharing his work in
this way. I will truly miss seeing his
When our SSA folio arrived at my
house, I was always anxious to look
through the images. I could always
count on David's to be the best
image of the folio. I have heard him
called the greatest 3-D photographer of our generation, and that may be very true.
Holding a David Lee stereo card in your hand is truly holding a piece of fine art. The image is always remarkable - inevitablely black and white, often flowing and dream-like, with dramatic lighting. Then, turning the card over would give me a window into the meticulous detail that David would put into his images, including notes on camera separation, camera settings, and lighting. There I'd find information on the paper used to print his card, and the detailed techniques used on the computer. Finding out that I was being added to a SSA folio that included David Lee was both a delight, and a little unnerving all at the same time. After all, how could I ever hold my own with such a stellar photographer? I am quite new at printing cards and thought it would be a good learning experience for me. Well, it has been a great experience for me. And, in one of my last folios, David complemented me on my image. Let me tell you, I was on cloud nine! And I guess I still am.
David was--the best. His creative sense of what's worthwhile to aim a camera at, and his loving treatment of each new pair of images produced a succession of not just perfected blue ribbon stereographs, but inspiring portals to many hundreds of natural and cultural subjects.
He was in Feline folio for about 20
years—since the days when we voted and sent out an annual award to the most appreciated member: a black ceramic Egyptian cat with a golden earring. During that period, I proposed that it would save time and
money if we simply shipped them to
David by the dozen (in advance).
David Lee loved Yosemite. He
made some of the most wonderful
black and white stereo views of
Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada that
I have seen.
Linda and I were privileged to join
him one year in Yosemite, along
with Ernie Rairdin, when David was
selected as an Artist-in-Residence
through the Ansel Adams Gallery.
During our three day stay we had a
great time talking and taking 3-D
views. Working with David was a great education.
He liked to photograph in low light, often waiting until dusk to take his views. He was very patient, he knew what he wanted his view to look like, and was willing to wait for the perfect time to snap the shutter. David was quiet, but always willing to share his knowledge. To be able to work with and watch him was a real joy. I will prize the stereo views of David's I own.
He not only worked with Holmes style view cards, but made large format views. He had designed a beautiful hand held viewer for these. White he had a number of exhibitions over the years, the one in Yosemite stands out in our memory.
I worked with David Lee in a minor fashion--having videotaped five of his workshops at NSA conventions:
Mesa, AZ (2000) - "Advanced Techniques in Stereocard Making"
Buffalo, NY (2001) - "Making Stereo
Charleston, SC (2003) - "Using Photoshop to Make Stereo Images"
Miami, FL (2006) - "Improve Your Stereo Photography"
Miami, FL (2006) - "Making Stereo
It was David who got me into taping
workshops and offering them on
DVDs. I brought a video camera to
the Mesa convention because I was
visiting an old army buddy in
Phoenix and wanted to capture some
video of him and his family. I
attended one of David's workshops
on Hyperstereo and wished I had a
recording of it, because it had so
much detail in it that I would have
wanted to review later—I knew I
would never remember it all. I was
also interested in learning about
making stereo cards, so I recorded
his other workshop on that topic,
just for my own use. I was so happy
with the results that I videotaped
nearly all of the workshops in Buffalo the next year, again only for personal use. Someone asked if they would be available for purchase, so I looked into converting them to DVDs and made agreements with each of the presenters and the NSA, and the rest is history.
David was quite unassuming, but
had a very nice way of presenting
technical details in a friendly fashion,
the workshops, but did view them all and gave his blessing for their dis-
tribution. These workshops are
still available on my GreenHouse
Productions website www.3DPhoto
Workshops.com. (The workshops normally sell for $25 each, but I'll offer a 40% discount on any or all of the David Lee workshops—$15 each)
I met David when we were both
members of the Avian SSA folio. I
had been a photographer all my life,
but had no formal instruction
regarding stereo photography.
David's comments on my early folio
submissions were extremely helpful,
as I knew little about the stereo window and how to make professional stereo cards. While David was secretary of the OP folio during the mid-90s, I was quite honored to be invited by him to be a member of that prestigious folio (I think he was really grooming me to take his place as folio secretary in 2000).
David was the Artist-in-Residence
at Yosemite for the month of April,
2001. One week during that time,
Linda and David Thompson, myself,
and a friend of David's, were invited
to spend a week with him at the
house which was provided by the
park. I had to spend my first night in
the park at the lodge because of bad
weather in the high country. David
and his friend came to the valley
and spent the night with me. While
the Thompsons spent the next
morning clearing snow from the
guest house, David and I
photographed the valley with four or five inches of new fallen snow. It was
the prettiest spot I'd ever seen. While
David made two or three perfectly
composed and exposed pieces of art,
I shot several rolls of 3D snapshots
that were only great because of when and where we were.
As I watched David set up his two
homemade 4x5 cameras, then waiting for the perfect placement of
clouds and shadows, it reminded me
of Ansel Adams wandering through
these same mountains and valleys
many years ago. With David's two
cameras placed 50 to 75 feet apart,
he would throw a film can in the air
and when it hit the ground, I would
fire one camera and he would fire
the other. This gave a lot better camera sync than counting 1, 2, 3.
In February of 2002, I was a guest
of David, his wife Debbie and daughter Rebecca at their home in Soquel. Rebecca was about ten years old, and I remember mom and dad spending the evening working with her on a school project. She seemed to be blessed with their artistic talents. The next day, David and I took Highway 101 along the ocean, photographing the sites of Limekiln Falls State Park, Edward Weston State Park and eating at the villages along the way.
Although David was a world class
stereo photographer, I remember
him most as a gentleman, a teacher
and a friend. Whenever my wife
Sherryl and I met David at an NSA
Convention, he always had a great
smile and a friendly greeting for us.
See the genius of David by visiting
I was on "team David" for some
eight years, 1995-2003. Together
with Bill Lee, and later with the addition of Mart McCann as collector
and exhibitor, as well as shooter, we
took stereo cards as far as we each
could go. On team David, Bill and I functioned as sparring partners for David and he for each of us. David's view of competition didn't seem to be of the zero-sum-game variety where if I had something, he didn't. No, he
seemed to want us to be working at
our very best so that he, in turn,
would be spurred on to do even better than he had before. And that's
not to say that we didn't try to "win"
on our own, but our imagery wasn't
David's, he of the rocks, trees, and
flowing streams. And did I mention
that David also had phenomenal
Legend has it that to sync shutters
on cameras hundreds of yards apart
in truly vast landscapes, and in the
era before cell phones, David would
signal the moment of exposure to
the person on the second camera by
shooting off a blank round from a
starter pistol. David's view, "Devil's
Tower," probably synched using a
cell phone, is of this variety and
shows what can be done if one takes
the time to get the stereo base right.
[See Stereo World Vol. 26 No. 1, page 21.]
Technique aside, David's subject
matter resonated with a wide audience in the stereo world. It's my
understanding that after the 120-
slide viewer kits became available in
the early part of this century, David
was kept very busy trying to fill the
demand for 120-chrome views, as
well as stereo cards. Much like late
19th-century stereographers, David
probably found himself shooting
multiple formats from the same tripod holes.
During those years, team David
would meet up at various restaurants
and pizzerias near Hillsdale, CA, to
show off our latest and greatest
views, discuss technique, make plans
for the next NSA convention, pass on
SSA stereo card circuit boxes, and just
generally keep each other caught up
on our respective interests. However,
I eventually discovered book arts
while Bill focused more on acrylic
painting, Mart moved to Portland
and got very involved in the Portland's 3D Center for Art and Photography, and David—well, David kept on doing what he did best.
And now, he's gone.
Born in 1950 and raised in Modesto, California, David M. Lee began taking stereo photos in 1983.
Lee began his career in three dimensional stereo photography in 1985. David returned to Modesto, several years after graduating from the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught photography at Modesto Junior College from 1985-1995.
Lee invented the Hyper-View Large Format Stereo Print Viewer in 1990, improving on a viewer previously used for reviewing stereo medical X-rays and aerial stereo viewers. Both aerial stereo viewers and X-ray stereo viewers are similar in concept.
The difference between the Hyper-View Large Format Stereo Viewer and the other two mentioned is that the others cannot cover a very large field of view. The Hyper-View device essentially widens the effective separation of the viewer's eyes from about 2½ inches to about 11 inches, as through two horizontal periscopes. One of the most convenient models is called the 3D Scope. Other viewers include the Wheatstone Mini-Scope and the Adjustable 3D Prism Glasses. After building several viewers, Lee subsequently provided design specifications to Steven Berezin, of Berezin Stereo Products, a manufacturer which produces the oversized hyperviewers for sale to galleries and individual customers.
Berezin has a viewer selection chart to help you decide which viewer is right for you. One of the main uses for which Lee envisioned was for gallery exhibitions of his own stereo prints. Lee was also interested in encouraging other "fine art" photographers who had never seriously considered stereo photography to begin producing creative work in this medium.
Having enjoyed hiking, backpacking, and photographing in Yosemite National Park, and the nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains for over 40 years, David M. Lee was the Artist-in Residence at Yosemite National Park in 2000. Many of his photographs focused on landscapes at Yosemite National Park, including a shot of Half Dome from Mirror Lake in April 2000, which has been called "the best stereo photograph ever."
According to stereograph gallery owner Craig Goldwyn, Lee produced "ethereal stereocards of landscapes … in the tradition of Ansel Adams."
Travelling far and wide, subjects of these stereo photo landscapes include: Bodie (a huge ghost town of the Eastern Sierra region), Death Valley, Italy, Hawaii, Santa Cruz, California (his residence of 20 years), as well as several other photo trips to San Juan Island, and around the California Bay Area.
Lee also conducted workshops in stereo photography technique for the National Stereoscopic Association. Additionally, being a true artist, Lee stopped at, and photographed, the Hoover Dam, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Rocky Mountain National Park along his travels to the National Stereoscopic Association Convention in Loveland, Colorado in July 2011.
Lee's photographs have been published internationally in the Finnish magazine Kamera Lehti (2014).
Lee was born in Merced, California. Lee died on Jan 28, 2015 at age 64 from complications associated with ALS. He is survived by his wife, researcher Deborah Kogan, and daughter, Rebecca Lee.