It's only mine because it holds my suitcase.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Stereo Photography is Keen

A few years ago I realized that taking a stereo photograph of a stationary object is as trivial as taking a picture, locking the settings, moving your camera a few inches to the left, and taking the same picture again. The first shots I took I used a tripod and a ruler laid against the front of it and it worked out fairly well. Unless you have a controlled environment, though, this is all really elaborate and burdensome. Some years later, I thought to myself, "How precise do I really need to be?" Turns out you can get a fairly decent 3D effect freehand. It's pretty simple, actually. Stand squarely in front of your subject with your feet about a foot and a half apart. Favor your left foot. Frame your shot and lock the settings, Take the pic. Shift your weight over to your right foot and take the shot again. Mission accomplished.

As far as looking at the things goes, you have a few options, two of which require no special tools, and one of which requires no special viewing skills. The first is called the cross eyed viewing method:

It's not hard to view one of these once you've worked out the technique. Fundamentally it's the same technique used to view those old 3D steganographs - you simply relax your eyes and slowly cross them, as if you were focusing on something in the middle distance between the screen and your face, until the left and right images merge. It's kinda headache inducing, but it works well.

The other technique, something that I briefly thought I'd discovered myself, is to simply alternate between the two images and let the viewer's brain fill in the blanks. It's a bit iffy for pics with a lot of depth, and not much less headache inducing than the cross-eye method, but it's pretty cool for its ability to convey the illusion of a 3D image with no special tools.

By the way, I composited the animated gif using Stereo Photo Maker; it's a pretty good dedicated tool that also does anaglyphs and the like. Check it out if you want to try this at home.


  1. I f you look at the reflection on your monitor and focus on the distant wall (behind you, but the reflection in the monitor) It works great. Thattrain looks like it's about to shake apart!

  2. That's kind of awesome. I can't see stereoscopic pictures. (amblyopia as a child, I don't have good stereoscopic vision) Just makes me dizzy. Dizzy is fun!
    <3 tigerbunny