We live in a three dimensional world and the fact we have two eyes allows us to observe the third dimension. Artists and photographers therefore have the challenge of translating their observations into a two dimensional form. Various mechanisms such as utilising leading lines and having prominent foreground interest can be employed to fool the brain into believing the picture is in 3D. Images of railway tracks are a classic example of this, and photographers also have the added advantage of using wide angle lenses to further enhance the feeling of space between foreground and background. Throughout my own photography I have often used the above techniques not realising that I harboured a latent desire to produce real 3D images. I am quite sure now that this stems from an optical toy I was given as a Christmas present in the 1970's. The toy in question was called a Viewmaster and produced by a company called GAF. The Viewmaster was basically a stereo viewer through which I could marvel at pictures presented in 3D and in full colour. I had long forgotten the joy afforded by this toy and even in my formative years as a photographer the belief that I could master the ability to create 3D pictures eluded me until I met a famous musician.
The musician in question was Brian May from the rock group Queen. Well known for his extra curricular activites as an astronomer he has also produced a book on Victorian stereophotography in collaboration with Elena Vidal and a presentation of this book at the 2010 Folkestone Book Festival inspired me immensely. Audience members were given special 3D glasses to view projected images in full colour on a large screen. The depth of the 3D images was amazing and was reminiscent of my old Viewmaster viewer. I was once again experiencing the magic I first saw nearly forty years ago!
The series of pictures in the presentation dated from the nineteenth century and although very interesting I was admittedly more excited at the prospect of producing my own stereo images. Imagine my joy when I realised I already possessed both the equipment and knowledge necessary to do this. That weekend I studied Brians book and began planning my first pictures. Although stereo photography as described in the book could be accomplished using a single hand held camera I did source a special adapter plate that fitted onto a tripod allowing more precise control of camera positioning between the two required exposures for each image. Armed with this and using a digital compact camera I ventured out on my first stereo expeditions.
Learning how to create 3D and stereoscopic photographic images has been an enjoyable and steep learning curve where I have experimented with various camera combinations including the purchase of the Worlds only dedicated 3D camera the Fuji W3. Check out my 3D images on my "Its a 3D World Anaglyphs" and "Its a 3D World Stereocards" galleries.