Christmas projects #8 – Single camera stereo

 

A finished stereo pair, complete with a narrow space between the images to aid cross-eyed viewing.

A finished stereo pair, complete with a narrow space between the images to aid cross-eyed viewing.

Stereo photography is often seen as being quite involved, with a need for specialist twin-lens cameras or two cameras mounted side-by-side. But it doesn’t have to be that way: if you limit yourself to static subjects, it’s possible to produce a stereo pair with just one camera and free software.

The process starts with you shooting two images of the same subject, shifting the camera horizontally between exposures. Use aperture priority or manual exposure to ensure the depth of field doesn’t change, and set the focus manually.

The amount of ‘shift’ you need between your shots depends on the subject distance, shift distance and a bit of geometry as well, so the easiest option is to shoot more images than you need, shifting the camera a little more each time. This means you have a number of potential combinations that can create your stereo pair.

Once you’ve shot your images, copy them onto your computer and use StereoPhoto Maker to combine them. This is a free Windows-only program that you can download from stereo.jpn.org/eng/stphmkr.

Several guides are available via the website to get you started. In essence, though, you need to determine the pair of your exposures that will work best and the software will then align and optimise them for you, making them ready for printing or viewing on screen using the classic ‘cross-eyed’ method.

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