Monthly Archives: September 2010

The mediocrity of most 3D lenticular prints is so realistic that it leaps off the image and completely ruins your day!


What does a person say when they are presented with a 3D image where the only redeeming quality of the image is that it is in 3D? I find it disheartening to see so much BAD 3D content. Indeed, my own work could stand improvement – but when I look at what is out there I really cringe.

I think this is a big part of the problem with the acceptance of 3D imagery. There just isn’t a high level of quality. So many are focused on the effect of 3D that they completely ignore things like good image composition, lighting for 3D, telling a story within the photograph and just creating something that is compelling to look at and study.

A good 2D photograph does not a good 3D photograph make!  With a 2D photograph you use lighting and perspective to create a sense of depth and drama. It is the abstraction that stirs the interpretation of the image. Everything about a regular photograph (2D) is processed in the brain through interpretation. If emotion is evoked from looking at a 2D photograph it is through the process of drawing upon what we have seen before and making comparisons of a sort. We make the connection through interpretation and referencing it to other things we have seen.

This dynamic falls apart with 3D imagery. For most 3D images, you notice the “gimmick” of 3D. “Look! Something is sticking out of the picture!”, “Wow, isn’t that amazing!”, etc. But like all gimmicks, they get old fast. When people try to create a 3D image using the same process as that for 2D images a problem surfaces. When we see with stereopsis (3D) we are engaging a part of human perception that relates to seeing things that are real and have a sense of occupying space. Our brain doesn’t try to interpret, but rather seeks to first experience and evaluate what we are seeing. Our brain asks: Is this image real? And then it starts a process to determine the realness which for most 3D imagery takes about a second. So, the first impression is negative (not real) and the level of interest typically fades in a dramatic fashion. “You’ve seen one 3D image, you’ve seen them all”. 

This process doesn’t exist for 2D imagery as there is no expectation that it could be real.

So, two solutions exist to the above problem. Option one would be to make every effort to have the 3D photograph appear as real and accurate as possible. Option two would be to find a way to make it obvious that the image isn’t real and have the brain process the image as referential just as it does with a 2D image.

Both options are extraordinarly difficult to achieve. And herein lies the artistic challenge of 3D imagery. My approach, to date, has been option one because I believe that until one throughly understands how to perfect option one — that option two will be significatly more difficult. I am experimenting with all aspects of multi perspective photography with the goal of achieving a type of viewing engagement that is perceived with “realness”.

Next up for blogging?  How to achieve “realness” with 3D photography.

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Filed under 3D, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic, S3D, stereopsis

How 3D Imagery Links Einstein, Perception, Brain Function, Emotion and More


My study of autostereoscopic imagery , like the layers of an onion, continue to reveal more and more – like Einstein’s theory of relativity. The surprising connection between 3D imagery and space/time theory has captured my imagination. The single biggest difference between a “regular” photograph and an autostereoscopic photograph is the depiction of the space between things. That depiction exists in an autostereoscopic photograph and doesn’t exist in a regular photograph.

When we see and perceive space, we are also experiencing time. Photons of light move through time as they move through space. The time component of stereopsis vision was important for our ancestors – to interpret the speed of the danger moving towards them to determine a fight or flight response, as one example.

But it goes much deeper than that. Seeing the space between things is a component of perception that gives meaning to where we exist and our relationship to the world and our ability to interpret the concept of time. Perhaps, that explains the flood of emotion those that gained stereopsis vision later in life all have reported. The ability to more directly experience the space/time component of our existance sounds pretty compelling to me as something to get emotional about.

Can the real space/time that exists in reality be captured in an autostereoscopic photograph? Of course not. And I don’t think it has to, since our eyes don’t capture everything. But I do think it is critical to incorporate into the photograph what our eyes are able to capture. Because when the brain has to do special gymnastics to make sense of what it is seeing then its ability to translate the imagery into something that makes sense is jeopardized.

Thinking about the above, my approach has been to study what the differences are between true reality and what our eyes and brain are doing to interpret what is real using the equipment that we have.  In that way, I can determine what is important to be included in an autostereoscopic photograph and what isn’t so important. I have discovered many things with this approach that aren’t obvious on the surface. For example, the brain expects certain disparities from the left eye to the right eye. When those disparities are exceeded, the brain makes a big deal about it (giving us a headache for example). When those disparities are too similar, then the brain rejects the imagery as “real” to a greater or lesser extent depending on the content of the imagery.

As to the relationship of time with the space depicted – that has yielded some fascinating areas that I am keen to study in much greater detail. It seems that we do have the ability to make sense of a frozen moment of space/time even though it isn’t anything we would ever experience in real life (or is it?). Many autostereoscopic images illicit emotions associated with looking at dead things. I don’t think this is a coincidence. And I believe the reason for this goes much deeper than simple association of things that don’t move to dead things.

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Filed under 3D, 3D Photography, autostereoscopic, stereopsis