Stere­og­ra­phy, or 3D pho­tog­ra­phy — this is an image that allows you to see the cap­tured object in three-dimen­sion­al. Such an effect, from the moment the image is cre­at­ed to its repro­duc­tion, is achieved by var­i­ous meth­ods. How­ev­er, all of them are based on only one prin­ci­ple — the pecu­liar­i­ty of binoc­u­lar vision inher­ent in peo­ple.


A per­son has two eyes, each of which fix­es its own image. In the brain, they are super­im­posed one on top of the oth­er, and we per­ceive a three-dimen­sion­al pic­ture of real­i­ty. Giv­en that the dis­tance between the pupils is 6–6.5 cen­time­ters, the eyes see dis­tant objects with only a slight dis­tor­tion.

It is the same with stereo pho­tog­ra­phy: objects are pho­tographed from two or more dif­fer­ent points spaced from each oth­er on a stereo basis. You can do this with sin­gle or dual cam­erasspe­cial stereo cam­era or stereo noz­zles. The result­ing images are called a stere­opair.

“Lon­don Zoo. Tor­tois­es”, J. Dear­den Holmes, 1920’s

stere­oba­sis — the dis­tance between the two points from which the sur­vey is made. The opti­mal stereo basis for cre­at­ing a three-dimen­sion­al image at a dis­tance of less than 100 meters is 65 mil­lime­ters (as between the pupils), fur­ther — 1/500 of the dis­tance to the sub­ject.


The fact that the vol­ume of the pic­ture is due to the fact that each eye sees slight­ly dif­fer­ent pic­tures of the same object was known by Euclid. Fol­low­ing him, this fea­ture was described by Leonar­do da Vin­ci in 1584. The the­o­ry of stereo­scop­ic per­cep­tion was described in detail in his work Dioptrics in 1611 by the Ger­man opti­cian and math­e­mati­cian Johannes Kepler (Johannes Kepler).

In 1600, the Ital­ian painter Gio­van­ni Bat­tista del­la Por­ta (Gio­van­ni Bat­tista del­la Por­ta) wrote the first stereo image. A hun­dred years lat­er, his com­pa­tri­ot Jacopo Gimen­ti da Empole repeat­ed his expe­ri­ence (Jacopo Chi­men­ti da Empoli), then, in the mid­dle of the next cen­tu­ry, the French Bois-Claire (G. A. Bois-Clair) and, in the 1900s, the Spaniard Sal­vador Dali.

Stereo pho­tog­ra­phy was invent­ed by King’s Col­lege Lon­don pro­fes­sor Charles Wheat­stone (Charles Wheat­stone). In 1833, he cre­at­ed a mir­ror stere­o­scope — a device that allows you to see a three-dimen­sion­al pic­ture using a pre-filmed stereo pair.

The first cam­era with two lens­es was designed by Scots­man David Brew­ster in 1849.David Brew­ster); he also built a stere­o­scope with­out mir­rors. Six years lat­er, the sci­en­tist also devel­oped the first stereo reflex attach­ment for a cam­era with a sin­gle lens.

Stere­o­scope, exhib­it of the Schul­his­torische Samm­lung (School His­tor­i­cal Muse­um), Bre­mer­haven, Ger­many. Source: wikipedia.org

In the mid­dle of the 19th cen­tu­ry, stereo pho­tog­ra­phy was espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar in Great Britain. So, one of the first ama­teur pho­tog­ra­phers of this genre was the British aris­to­crat Clemen­tine Hawar­den (Clemen­tine Hawar­den). Her favorite sub­ject is Dun­drum Manor in Ire­land. Today, a large num­ber of stereo pairs tak­en by Hawar­den in 1857–1864 are kept in the col­lec­tion of the Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um in Lon­don.

In 1858 the French­man Joseph d’Almei­da (Joseph d’Almei­da) dis­cov­ered an anaglyph method for rep­re­sent­ing stereo pairs. It has long been used to cre­ate books, comics, maps and post­cards. In the 1920s, plas­ti­grams appeared — the first anaglyph films.

“Dun­drum Quar­ry”, Clementi­na Hawar­den, 1857–1860


With one cam­era

The sim­plest method. The cam­era is moved hor­i­zon­tal­ly, some­times along spe­cial guides, to the dis­tance of the stereo basis. The dis­ad­van­tage of this method of shoot­ing is that it is impos­si­ble to fix mov­ing objects.

With a stereo cam­era

The most opti­mal method of 3D-shoot­ing. Stereo cam­eras are, in fact, two cam­eras com­bined in one body: they have a com­mon viewfind­er and tape path, but dif­fer­ent shut­ters. Some of these devices may have more than two lens­es — in this case, it becomes pos­si­ble to “look” behind the main sub­ject.

Three-lens reflex film stereo cam­era “Sput­nik”. One of the first spe­cial­ized cam­eras. Source: wikipedia.org

On the ebay you can find func­tion­ing 3D retro film cam­eras in good qual­i­ty for 7–15 thou­sand rubles. Today, a Japan­ese com­pa­ny is engaged in the pro­duc­tion of ama­teur dig­i­tal stereo­scop­ic cam­eras. fuji­film.

With two cam­eras

Cam­eras are usu­al­ly mount­ed on a hor­i­zon­tal rail. From the pros: now you can cap­ture both hav­ing fun and birds fly­ing in the sky. How­ev­er, this method requires pre­cise shut­ter tim­ing, which can be achieved using a radio trig­ger.

With a stereo attach­ment

The stereo attach­ment is mount­ed direct­ly on the lens of a con­ven­tion­al cam­era. The prisms and mir­rors in the acces­so­ry frame the vis­i­ble field of the cam­era into two, as if from dif­fer­ent angles.

Con­tax cam­era with Stereo­tar C stereo attach­ment from Zeiss Ikon (1941). Source: wikipedia.org

Mod­ern 3D lens­es are more com­pact and func­tion­al com­pared to the “oldies”. If you are going to buy a stereo attach­ment for a film cam­era, then I advise you to still look at some­thing from a rar­i­ty, and if for a dig­i­tal one — a com­pa­ny Pana­son­ic and fuji­film offer sev­er­al mod­els.


Regard­less of how the stereo pairs were obtained, they can be observed in var­i­ous ways. For exam­ple, with the naked eye, with a stere­o­scope, a dual over­head pro­jec­tor, and on a flat print (lentic­u­lar print or two-col­or anaglyph image). There are sev­er­al options for rep­re­sent­ing stere­opairs.

In a stere­o­scope, one eye­piece shows one of the images of the stereo pair, the oth­er shows the oth­er. With lentic­u­lar print­ing, each of the pic­tures is applied to the grooves of a cer­tain par­i­ty. For anaglyph images, glass­es with red and green fil­ters are used (these used to be issued when watch­ing 3D movies).

Hor­i­zon­tal stereo pair (side by side). Par­al­lel

The right image is for the right eye, the left image is for the left. You need to look at such a cou­ple direct­ly.

An exam­ple of a par­al­lel stereo image. Source: wikipedia.org

Hor­i­zon­tal stereo pair (side by side). cross

It dif­fers from par­al­lel in that the left image was tak­en as if we were look­ing at the object with the right eye, and vice ver­sa. To con­sid­er such a pair, you need to cross your eyes.

An exam­ple of a cross stereo image. Source: wikipedia.org

Inter­laced stereo pair (Inter­laced)

By break­ing the image into ver­ti­cal stripes one pix­el wide, we get a ver­ti­cal scan. Now in each even line we write a pic­ture of one angle, and in the rest — anoth­er. Con­grat­u­la­tions, we got an inter­laced stereo pair.

An exam­ple of an inter­laced stereo image. Source: wikipedia.org

Anaglyph (Anaglyph)

One of the images of the stere­opair is passed through one fil­ter (for exam­ple, red), and the oth­er through the sec­ond (for exam­ple, green). In order for objects to become volu­mi­nous, you need to wear stereo glass­es with glass­es of the appro­pri­ate col­ors.

An exam­ple of an anaglyph stereo image. Source: wikipedia.org

Page flip (Page-flip)

With this way of rep­re­sent­ing a stere­opair, it is not sta­t­ic. So, even frames dis­play the image of one angle, odd — anoth­er. The page flip effect can be achieved both with the help of an edit­ed video (for exam­ple, gif-for­mat, as in the exam­ples below), and spe­cial glass­es that close and open the shut­ters alter­nate­ly for the right and left eyes in time with the frames.

“Lon­don Zoo. Tor­tois­es”, J. Dear­den Holmes, 1920’s
“Traf­fic Jam at the Bank of Eng­land. Lon­don”, J. Dear­den Holmes, 1920’s


Reg­u­lar and stereo pho­tog­ra­phy appeared almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly. How­ev­er, at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tu­ry, pho­tog­ra­phers per­ceived 3D images as mass enter­tain­ment, not art. So, at one time, attrac­tions based on the stereo­scop­ic effect, and box­es with stere­o­graph­ic images, which depict­ed views of dis­tant coun­tries, rur­al land­scapes or nude mod­els, were pop­u­lar.

In the 1950s and 60s, there was a surge of mass inter­est in 3D pho­tog­ra­phy: com­pa­nies were look­ing for new tech­no­log­i­cal solu­tions and devel­op­ing more mod­els of spe­cial cam­eras, attach­ments and devices for view­ing stereo pairs. Today, the tech­ni­cal base of 3D pho­tog­ra­phy con­tin­ues to improve, which means that in the future a three-dimen­sion­al image may become a pop­u­lar genre of artis­tic pho­tog­ra­phy. Dare!

In my pre­vi­ous mate­ri­als, I talked about the prin­ci­ples and tools of shoot­ing in infrared and ultra­vi­o­let spec­tra.


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