Life in the third dimension

Ever since my last encounter with John Long, a Bowlus owner who is also an accomplished photographer, I have been more curious about stereo or “3D” photography.  John is one of the acknowledged experts on the subject and showed me the beautiful portfolio of stereo images that decorates his home.

Now back in Tucson, I’ve started to play with 3D photography myself.  Composing a good stereo image is quite different from 2D photography, and it’s fun.  For practice purposes, I’ve been using “3D Camera,” which costs only a buck-ninety-nine.  The photo quality is limited by the iPhone camera, but for learning how to compose a good stereo image it’s quick and easy.

These images are all color anaglyphs, which means you’ll need a pair of those red-green glasses with paper frames.  If you’ve bought a DVD in the past couple of years that is in 3D, there’s probably a pair of those glasses in the DVD case.  If you don’t have a pair of those glasses, the image just looks blurry and crummy.  Click on the images to enlarge them.

This has been an interesting way to document the day.  The weather has been spectacular in Tucson lately, with every day in the mid 70s.  So we’ve been doing outdoor stuff and hitting the events of interest around town.  Today we dropped in on the Flandrau Science Center at the University of Arizona for an exhibit on “gas” (meaning elemental gases, not gasoline).  Sounds boring but it really wasn’t, since they kicked in plenty of neon. Above you can see Eleanor studying a neon sign through a spectroscope.

I’ve learned that shooting people is difficult to do well in stereo unless you have the type of camera that shoots two images at once.  With the iPhone I’m using the “cha cha” method, which means I shoot the left image, and then move the camera a few inches for the right image.  In between the shots, you don’t want anything to move.  As with HDR, still lifes are easier to shoot.

Downstairs in the Flandrau is a permanent exhibit on minerals, which Eleanor and Emma always love for the many fantastic examples.  For them, it’s like a prelude to the annual Tucson Gem Show.  One of the photos here is a display case from the Mineral Museum.

Our next stop was the Sonoran Glass Art Academy, where you can watch glass art being blown.  Emma made a pumpkin with the leadership of one of the staff.  It’s cooling in the kiln now, and we’ll pick it up in a few days.  The photo here shows some of the other pumpkins that have been made.

Once I feel I’ve gotten a handle on stereo composition, I’ll switch to the Nikon D90 and a stereo processing application on the Mac.  This will take longer, but the results should be much better.

I’m tempted to upload more 3D images as I get better at the technique, but I don’t want to freak out the blog readers who don’t have access to anaglyphic glasses.  So don’t expect more here.  At some point I’ll open up a Flickr album for the best shots made with the Nikon and reference that for those who are interested.