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Project - Taking a 3D Still Life

The objective of this project is to gain experience in 3D photography with near objects, in this case a still life form.

In order to do this you will need:-

The process is fairly simple:-

  1. Set up the still life.

  2. Work out the settings as if we were taking a single photo.

  3. Work out the Stereo Base.

  4. Set the camera on manual.

  5. Take the left image.

  6. Slide the camera to the right by the stereo base and take the second image.

  7. Put the 3D image together in software.

Setting up the still life

As we want it to be a 3D image we want some depth to our arrangement. You could use fruit, drinking glasses, or just about any other small objects arranged in a pleasing way to you in front of a background you are happy with.

Because we are quite close, we may want to consider the depth of field available to us, considering the lens, aperture and working distance. We can overcome this and have an unlimited depth of field, but this would then require a more complete project than I have set out here.

Work out the settings as if it was a  single photo

We can look at lighting, with the lighting in a fixed position not moving with the camera.

Set up the camera in a position to take the left of the photo pair.

Then set the white balance, and chose the aperture  to give us a full depth of field,   you rarely will want 3D images that have much if anything out of focus.

Take a test shot and make sure you are happy with the image, background and exposure. Make a note of the settings you are using.

Work out the stereo base

You need to work out the distance the camera needs to move so as to give the impression that its images from your two eyes. This depends on the focal length of the lens, how far it is from you to the nearest item and the distance from that and the most furthest away item. This sideways movement called the stereo base can be calculated, or simpler you can just use a program to look it up. See the article 3D Photography Stereo base.  

Set the camera to manual

Now set up the settings you noted before, use manual, rather than the other setting, so the two images are taken with the same settings.

Take the left image

I always suggest people get into the habit of shooting left then right, also with panoramas shooting from left around to the right, just simplifies things, you know with a set the sequence they will always be in. If you are taking several versions of a stereo pair then its a good idea to put a marker between them, this could just be a photo of your hand or something.

Slide the camera and take the second image

Slide the camera sideways, being careful to keep it parallel and not to mess up any of the settings. The amount to move it sideways is the stereo base figure you worked out above. The second photo is taken with the same settings and the same lighting.

Create the 3D image with a software package

I suggest in this case that you use Anabuilder, its free and its the one I often use. You can see more about it with a link to download a copy for yourself, in the article on Software to Make 3D Images.   

To start with make the images go back beyond the screen or page, this is achieved by sliding the two images so the front items lines up. Once you have mastered this you can play with items that stick out of the screen (like the image at the top of this page), but this tends to be more difficult to get right.

What have we achieved

I would hope that you have a 3D image that you can see with the glasses on screen, can print out and using the glasses allow others to see. You will also have gained an insight into 3D, its not as difficult as many imagine, and maybe it will encourage you to experiment with it more.


See Also our 3D Section for more articles and projects on this topic.


By: Keith Park   Section: 3D Section Key:
Page Ref: 3D_project_still_life Topic: 3D  Last Updated: 01/2010

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