AMPED 3D in Washington, D.C.

Last week I was in Washington, D.C. for a meeting with the director and exhibit staff at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. While I was there, I decided to pull out the 12 camera rig and take some architectural photographs on the mall, since the weather was reasonably nice.

I specialize in “life size” photography and people have asked me how I can take a life size photograph of a building?

The answer is that for me, the “life size” definition is the size that is perceived at the point of capture. So, if the cameras are several hundred yards away from the subject, life size would be the size as perceived viewing from that distance, not the actual size of the building.  My goal with each photograph is to present it as you would see the imagery in real life.

The most impressive photograph I was able to take was from the end of the mall at the Lincoln Memorial looking towards the Washington Monument with the Capital building in the background and the reflecting pool in the foreground.  There were just enough clouds passing by so that I was able to get perfect highlights with just the right amount of specularity on the Capital building in the background. But in order for the shot to represent true to life luminance detail I ended up needing to bracket the shot with multiple exposures (HDR photography). Normally, I am able to expand the dynamic range from the single shot, but in this sunlit outdoor example there was just too much range to capture even with my jeeped cameras.

Fortunately, not much moves when shooting buildings ;^) and I was able to have, in effect, what was a 1/2 second exposure as the cameras can fire three photographs in 1/2 second. Now the tough part comes, where I have to match and align 36 photographs and HDR merge them and interlace them into a single autostereoscopic image. Guess what? I’m still working on it ;^) But I will post an animation here in a few days to show the perspectives.

When I’m finished, I’ll have the most realistic photograph from the perspective of the Lincoln Memorial looking towards the Capital building that has ever been taken.  That in itself would be worth the trip – add to that the meeting at the Smithsonian and this was a fantastic trip!



Filed under 18 bits per color, 3D, 3D HDR, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic, HDR, High Dynamic Range, specular highlights

4 responses to “AMPED 3D in Washington, D.C.

  1. I’ve had a chance to look over your blog – great stuff, thanks for sharing.

    It seems we’re both looking for 3D answers that aren’t plentiful or obvious.

    I see your focus is stills, and you’re into video cameras. Are you working on any film production?

  2. I am developing a system for autostereoscopic 3D video capture. The problem is video monitors just don’t have enough resolution yet to deliver the quality for multiperspective video. I have experimented with 12 Canon 5D Mark 2’s and for testing they are fine, but for real work cameras must be genloc’d and have a bit more resolution and monitors must get better since a lens overlay for autostereoscopic cuts the resolution way down. The tech is expensive and not ready for prime time yet 😦 But it is getting there. There are also a lot of issues with motion pictures viewed autostereoscopically that I’m trying to learn about so as to have a solid scientific foundation to base my work on. There are a lot of hidden issues with 3D that nobody really understands fully yet – and I’m trying to flush them out by talking with neurobiologists and vision specialists and through trial and error.

    So the short answer is I don’t feel quite ready to do 3D film production yet as I’d like to have a better handle on all of the issues. My first objective is understanding how to create immersive “real” visual environments that trigger non-referential emotional connections in a consistent and predictable way. Some early testing is fascinating and I’m keen to perfect it.

  3. A meta-tech approach to stereoscopy – interesting.

    I suspect one of the reasons that we’re so keen for 3D is because it’s closer to our visual experience in reality, but we’ve all seen footage that gives us more of a headache than anything else!

    Do you know of any specific researchers who are looking into this? I’d be curious to learn more about this aspect.

    The technological mission is great, but understanding what motivates us to desire entertainment in stereoscopy has its own rewards.

    On a gear note, we’ve successfully tested a nano3D with our A cam system – looks like it will work in the field!

    • The research is not cohesive and various groups of researchers have different aspects they are working on. Surprisingly, not as much as you’d think is known and there are many misconceptions. Research facilities with brain imaging equipment are really busy with other matters besides stereopsis vision and I haven’t been able to get much traction there.

      I think the reason we prefer seeing with two eyes is because we have two eyes ;^) We get a great deal of information when we see with stereopsis that we process instinctually. Emotional triggers are considerably stronger for stereopsis imagery compared to referential 2D imagery. But we need to get better at matching perception cues.

      Great news about the nano3D – I hope it works in the field. Do you have a case of Pepto-Bismol? Something tells me that might come in handy ;^) like the voice of experience.

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