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

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