Autostereoscopic 3D Photographs… A Good Vision Test?

Recently, after watching people at tradeshows look at my multiperspective photographs I noticed that a couple of people (2 out of a few hundred) complained and appeared confused by what they saw; they didn’t want to get too close to the photographs. I was able to talk with one person about it, and she said that the picture moved around and she couldn’t “see” it right. She said, “I just can’t look at 3D stuff.”  Further discussion revealed that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with her vision – there just was something inherently wrong with “those 3D movies and pictures”. She was willing to dismiss that others could easily see 3D and implied that there was something wrong with them. I wanted to videotape her response to my questions but she adamantly refused that request!

I was fascinated. And I thought back to discussions I’ve had with various professionals about the power and bias of human perception. I felt this woman could be an example of how rooted or vested a person can be in how they perceive the world — to the exclusion of contradictory evidence.  She had no desire to even consider that something could be wrong with her – it was the 3D stuff that was wrong.

I wonder why? Was it just her personality or something more primal? Is what we see and how we see given such prominence by the brain that it controls our thoughts about the world around us? If that is true then virtual reality and 3D immersive games and extended viewing of stereoscopic content could have some sort of impact in changing the perception of the world by those that engage in those activities for extended periods.  It also implies that there could be a lot of people out there with vision problems that never seek treatment because they don’t believe anything is wrong with them.

I’ve come to learn that stereovision tests are not given a very high priority by pediatricians and opthamologists. If it is true that stereovision is a major contributor to how humans perceive the world they live in, then that is not a trivial medical ommission. Perhaps simple autostereoscopic photographs might become a useful tool for medical people to become aware of a “red flag” in terms of a lack of good stereopsis or poor convergence or…? I’m very keen to learn more and I’ve asked  Dominick M. Maino, OD, MEd, FAAO, FCOVD-A to consider some of my ideas and evaluate and help me experiment with autostereoscopic multiperspective photographs for this purpose. I hope to have some samples for him in May and also some additional anecdotal observations I continue to make while watching people look at my 3D photographs. With their multiperspectives and dynamic attributes (when you move closer or farther away from them) it seems to me that they might have great potential for providing evaluation information in an informal exam setting. I have zero medical background and will rely on the advice and guidance of professionals.

I hope that many vision professionals out there will help me to understand this better and to perhaps create some useful and cost effective tools for vision evaluation.



Filed under 3D Baby Photography, 3D Photography, stereopsis, stereovision, vision therapy

3 responses to “Autostereoscopic 3D Photographs… A Good Vision Test?

  1. Almont…can’t wait to work with you. This promises to be a great collaboration!

  2. Michael Scroggins

    I find these conjectures very interesting and am looking forward to some rigorous studies so that we can learn more. I wanted to add an anecdote that your accounts of perceptual biases recalled.

    Many years ago I was participating in a visual music festival held at UCLA and on the first morning the technical staff turning on and adjusting the front row mounted video projector was tweaking the hue control for the color bars. The control apparently would not stay set in the correct position as it moved through that spot and hit a mis-adjusted position. The hue was thus incorrect which was particularly disturbing since color relationships are a major aspect of the content of much abstract animation. The next day the staff member ran into the same difficulty. I approached him and asked if there was a plan to replace this defective projector for the remainder of the festival. He became a bit testy and told be that I was free to adjust it myself stating “Perhaps some people don’t see colors the same way others do”! I did attempt an adjustment and discovered that the control was not the problem at all. The problem lie in the staff member’s color perception. The rest of the festival was projected in what the majority of viewers would consider proper hue. It had never occurred to me that someone with a self awareness of his particular differences in color perception would be so arrogant concerning the way most others saw color.

    • Human color perception is really quite poor overall, especially at the lower end of the luminance range. But I don’t know if the problem you present is one of color perception as much as it is for color temperature preference and frame of reference. For example, if someone spent most of their life seeing and living in an environment with a poor light source with limited and notchy bandwidth like florescent light bulbs then they would develop a preference for the way things looked with that light source. Compare that with someone in Hawaii that lives outside in the color spectrum of the sun. Now have each of those people adjust the projector. See what I mean? Of course, this example is over simplistic but people naturally acquire a lighting frame of reference in their mind’s eye and I suspect they were using this when they adjusted the projector. I read something somewhere about the number of televisions “out there” where people jack up the saturation and red guns on the TV to the point of giving skin tones a nice sun burnt look ;^) There is a preference for saturated colors by many folks. But overall, people don’t have a high level of concern for color accuracy [amazing!]. Case in point? Anaglyph stereoscopic presentation. My goodness, talk about horrific color! Yet, this form of stereoscopic presentation persists to this day.

      One more anecdote. The Matrix movie. They put a green cast to all of the footage where the actors are “in” the matrix and removed the green cast when they were in the “real” world. Many people did NOT notice! Amazing! But here again, I think people are used to seeing different light sources and color temperatures and colored light sources that it didn’t seem unusual and they didn’t notice it. They perceived it, but didn’t notice it. This just goes to the tremendous plasticity of the brain to adapt to what it is being fed in terms of sensory input and making value judgements with regards to what is worth noticing and what can be ignored.

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