Stereoscopy - Stereo Photography Techniques - Digital Photography

Digital Photography

The beginning of the 21st century marked the coming of the age of digital photography. Stereo lenses were introduced which could turn an ordinary film camera into a stereo camera by using a special double lens to take two images and direct them through a single lens to capture them side by side on the film. Although current digital stereo cameras cost hundreds of dollars, cheaper models also exist, for example those produced by the company Loreo. It is also possible to create a twin camera rig, together with a "shepherd" device to synchronize the shutter and flash of the two cameras. By mounting two cameras on a bracket, spaced a bit, with a mechanism to make both take pictures at the same time. Newer cameras are even being used to shoot "step video" 3D slide shows with many pictures almost like a 3D motion picture if viewed properly. A modern camera can take ten pictures per second, with images that greatly exceed HDTV resolution.

If anything is in motion within the field of view, it is necessary to take both images at once, either through use of a specialized two-lens camera, or by using two identical cameras, operated as close as possible to the same moment.

A single camera can also be used if the subject remains perfectly still (such as an object in a museum display). Two exposures are required. The camera can be moved on a sliding bar for offset, or with practice, the photographer can simply shift the camera while holding it straight and level. This method of taking stereo photos is sometimes referred to as the "Cha-Cha" or "Rock and Roll" method. It is also sometimes referred to as the "astronaut shuffle" because it was used to take stereo pictures on the surface of the moon using normal monoscopic equipment.

For the most natural looking stereo most stereographers move the camera about 65mm or the distance between the eyes, but some experiment with other distances. A good rule of thumb is to shift sideways 1/30th of the distance to the closest subject for 'side by side' display, or just 1/60th if the image is to be also used for color anaglyph or anachrome image display. For example, when enhanced depth beyond natural vision is desired and a photo of a person in front of a house is being taken, and the person is thirty feet away, then the camera should be moved 1 foot between shots.

The stereo effect is not significantly diminished by slight pan or rotation between images. In fact slight rotation inwards (also called 'toe in') can be beneficial. Bear in mind that both images should show the same objects in the scene (just from different angles) - if a tree is on the edge of one image but out of view in the other image, then it will appear in a ghostly, semi-transparent way to the viewer, which is distracting and uncomfortable. Therefore, you can either crop the images so they completely overlap, or you can 'toe-in' the cameras so that the images completely overlap without having to discard any of the images. However, be a little cautious - too much 'toe-in' can cause eye strain for reasons best described here.

Read more about this topic:  Stereoscopy, Stereo Photography Techniques

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