A Beginner’s Guide to 3D Photography – Part 2: Shooting for 3D

Although as discussed in part 1 there are a number of different ways of generating a 3D simulation, they all require the same source image material. Consequently we can shoot for 3D in the same way regardless of our chosen realisation method. Essentially we need two images, one to to represent the viewpoint of the left eye and one to represent the viewpoint of the right eye. We can achieve this either by using a stereoscopic camera or we can use a conventional camera and move it.

Using a stereoscopic camera is of course usually the most effective method. These devices feature two (or more) lenses correctly spaced, and enable us to take an instantaneous image, buy which I mean both images are taken simultaneously, allowing the camera to be used ‘hand held’. There are a number available new, a good choice might be the Holga 120 3D, or the Holga 135 3D, or you might choose to purchase a second hand camera. (One possibility is the ‘Nimslo/Nishika’, a curiuous cul-de-sac of camera technology to which I intend to return in a future article). There are also some devices available designed to adapt a standard SLR into a stereographic camera, such as the Loreo ‘3D Lens-in-a Cap’.  The big limitation here is in the fact that these cameras are invariably film based and that has significant implications for your workflow, i.e. you will need to process the film and print/scan the results. Perhaps a more pragmatic approach, at least for your first forays into 3D image making, is to use a conventional digital camera and move it between shots. However, this does rather restrict you to photographing subjects which are static. The method is as follows…

• Choose a suitable subject/sceneThis should contain a range of subjects/detail at distinctly different distances from the camera.

• Set up your camera on a tripod, ensuring that the camera is perfectly level.

• Lock the exposure settingsusing manual exposure if possible. It is important that the two images are identically exposed.

• Switch off ‘auto ISO’ as this can mess up the exposure even when aperture and shutter speed are fixed.

• Lock the focusif the focus shifts between the two images, the 3D effect will be severely compromised.

• Take the first image.

• Move the camera approximately 3in/7cm to the right (representing the distance between your eyes)

• Take the second image

You may have to achieve this by simply (and carefully) picking up the tripod and moving it, or you may use something more sophisticated like a macro focussing rail, mounted side on…

The more precise the movement, the more accurate the final result will be.

NB: It is very important that you do not ‘swing’ the camera, simply move it along a horizontal path perpendicular (i.e. 90º) to the lens axis.

The order in which you take the images is not critical, i.e. whether you take the left or the right first. However, I recommend that you stick to the same sequence each time. I always shoot the left image then move the camera right. Consequently I always know which is which when editing; the left image is the one with the lower file number.

Having collected your images*, download them to your computer ready to process into a fab 3D image…

*If you are unable to shoot your own images at this point, or you simply wish to complete the tutorials for fun, I have provided sample images for you to work with. 

Download Sample 1 (Left)

Download Sample 2 (Right)

You are free to use these images under a Creative Commons Attribution non commercial no derivatives 4.0 international license. You are free to are free to share, copy and redistribute for non-commercial purposes, provided that you give attribution to the author and in a way that does not suggest the licensor endorses you or your use. Full details of this license can be found at – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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