How to Shoot 3D pictures without buying a 3D camera

If you have been curious about 3D but can't afford to go out and buy a new 3D camera, do not give up hope. It is possible (and not that difficult) to create your own stereoscopic (that means 3D folks) images using whatever point-and-shoot or phone camera you have kicking around. It helps to have a tripod, but even that's not essential. Here's what to do:

  • Choose a setting that has a visually interesting background with plenty of space. (hint - your bathroom or walk-in-closet will be tough). Outdoor settings work well because there is lots of light and plenty of depth.
  • Ask a friend or family member to sit in as your guinea pig. You could use an inanimate object, but it will be more fun with a person. If you have a very obedient pet you could use Fido, but they will need to really work to earn their biscuit. You'll see why in a minute.
  • Ensure that the person stays very still. They won't need to hold the position for two long, but nonetheless it should be a comfortable position. Headstands not recommended.
  • Take the first photo. If you aren't using a tripod, keep your arms very still. You want to maintain the camera at exactly the level you took the first picture.
  • Move a small step to your left. To give you an idea of distance, you want to move approximately the distance that exists between your two eyes - a couple of inches.
  • If you used a tripod - you made your life that much easier. Keeping the tripod on the same horizontal axis, move it to the left.
  • Take your second photo. That's it!

You might want to take a few different photos in case you messed something up. Once you're done it's time for Photoshop.

Using Photoshop to Create 3D

Open up your two image variations in Photoshop. Convert them both to gray-scale by selecting image, mode and then choosing 'grayscale'.

  • Select your left eye image. Set the image, mode back to RGB. It will still appear gray-scale, but now your left image has red, green and blue channels embedded. Leave the right eye image as is.
  • Select the left eye image. Now open the 'channel' option window. You can do this by going to 'window' then 'channels'. Press the 'shift' key and highlight the blue and green channels.
  • Select the right eye image. Now we need to further select the image itself by click on the 'select' menu item and choosing 'all'. Press ctrl 'c' (cmd 'c' Mac) to copy the image.
  • Select the left eye image and press paste (ctrl 'v Windows, cmd 'v' Mac).
  • Return to the 'channels' box and highlight all channel boxes (there are four total). If everything is going as planned you will now see a somewhat blurred image.
  • Almost there! It's important that the images are aligned correctly. That's what we'll do now. Highlight the red channel in the 'channels' box. Now turn the visibility on for each of the other three layers - without selecting them. In other words, the red channel is now highlited blue. The other channels are not highlighted but we want there to be an eyeball in each box to the left of the highlight so that the visibility is activated.
  • Choose a feature to line up. It could be the color of someone's shirt, or a facial feature such as a nose or an eye. You may need to zoom in.
  • Choose the move tool. It's usually at the very top of the list of tools and looks like a solid, black arrow. Use your arrow keys to move the red-tinted image channel until there are no rings of color showing.
  • Zoom back out and notice which areas still have the halo effect around them. These should be areas near the outside of the image. Use the crop tool to crop out the edges that have this halo effect.

Grab a pair of blue and green cardboard 3D classes and enjoy your 3D photo! If you don't have a pair, you can either buy them or make your very own pair if you like.

About the Author

Michael Sean Kaminsky is an author, video blogger and documentary filmmaker. His book Naked Lens: Video Blogging & Video Journaling to Reclaim the YOU in YouTube teaches readers to create online video in a brand new way.

Comments 1 comment

smcopywrite profile image

smcopywrite 5 years ago from all over the web

this is great information and nicely put together. thanks for a terrific hub.

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