How to Create Stereo Photographs

Two Methods:Single CameraTwo Cameras

Do you want to make your own stereo photographs and view your memories in amazing, full-colour, 3-dimensional detail? With one or two cameras and a tripod, you can make this happen with great success! Keep reading for detailed information on how to create stereo photographs.

Method 1
Single Camera

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    Find an immobile subject to photograph. Landscapes and places of interest are excellent for this work.
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    Get a piece of steel 20 cm long x 2.5 cm wide (8 x 1 inches). It must be strong enough to support your camera. Mark and drill 6mm (1/4") holes, the first 2.5 cm (1") from one end and others at 1 cm (about 1/2") centres. You will now have a slat with a series of holes running down the middle of its length.
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    Go to your tripod and remove the screw that holds the camera to the platform. It’s normally held in place by a circlip. Push this screw through the hole in the ends of the steel slat, opposite the first hole and keep it in place with the circlip. The end of the slat that has no holes in it must go over the platform of the tripod.
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    Push a 5mm galvanized steel roof bolt through the hole in the tripod platform, from which you removed the camera securing screw and through the hole in the un-drilled end of the steel slat, ensuring that the thread of the camera securing screw is uppermost. Turn its nut finger tight. Do not turn it fully tight, as the slat must be able to move freely from left to right.
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    Screw your camera onto the other end of the slat. You might have to insert washers to take up slack between the slat and the camera base. Your camera should now be connected to the tripod by the slat in a cantilever fashion.
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    Focus on an object not closer than 20 metres (60 feet) away and take a picture. Swing your camera through 180 degrees around the centre pivot, focus on the same object and take another shot.

    • Always focus on a definite object when you take both photographs, as this is what your eyes do automatically.
    • This position works for objects that are from 20 metres away to infinity. For closer pictures, your camera must be nearer to the centre pivot. Just unscrew the nut of the roofing bolt and shorten the projecting arm of your slat. For a normal lens, the swing will move your camera through a short arc, so that the picture is not distorted.
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    Keep a record of all your shots and indicate which was taken from the left-hand position and which from the right.
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    Make a Stereoscope to view your new stereo photos.

Method 2
Two Cameras

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    Put one camera on one end of the slat, and the second camera on the other end of the slat. For this system you will not require a tripod, as you can hand-hold the whole rig.
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    Focus on the same object beyond 50 metres (150 feet) away with both cameras and tighten them down so that they are completely immovable.
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    Fit cable releases to both cameras and make a rig to hold the buttons together so that you can press them both at the same time. You will have to match shutter speeds and f-stops for every shot, unless you are photographing on a sunny day, in which case you can stop down to f-8, f-16 or f-22 and set the shutter speeds according to the speed of the film you are using, to provide maximum depth of field, the speed of the action you are photographing and your lenses. Both cameras must, of course, be mounted with identical lenses. You will naturally only have to look through one viewfinder, as you have, at these f-stops, focused both lenses to infinity, haven’t you?


  • If you can make a stereoscope, you will have an easier time viewing your stereo prints.
    • Stereo photographs can be viewed quite successfully with nothing more than a separator between the eyes. Place the centres of the photographs between 5cm and 7cm apart (2-3 inches). Hold a book, or any other object that permits you to focus with ease, so that it stands up vertically between the 'photos. Place your nose against the separator and look at the pictures. Do not try to force anything to happen: your eyes will immediately convey what they are seeing to your brain. You may have to tilt your head slightly to balance them, but the 'photos will merge.
  • For best results, use slide film, but print film and even a digital camera will work.
  • The reason for putting a greater distance between the camera and the centre pivot on longer shots is to enhance the 3-D effect, especially if you are using an SLR camera with a zoom or telephoto lens. You can go right up to 50cm (18��?) for very long, telephoto shots, with incredible results. If you use a digital camera or any other fixed-lens camera, you can keep the camera on a short tether, 3 cm (1 ½") from the centre pivot at all times. If your digital camera has zoom capabilities, and you zoom in on a distant object, use the system applied to the SLR camera.
  • If you used slide film, obtain two of those “hold-up-to-the-light" viewers. Hold the left-hand photo in front of your left eye and the right-hand one to your right eye. You will have to move them around a bit to balance everything, until the whole scene recedes away from you into immortality or infinity, whichever is the greater.
  • For standard D&P print film, have them printed with a matte finish to reduce reflections. If you can discipline your eyes enough to do as they are told, and if you know how to view stereo-grams, then this will work for you. Place the two photographs side by side with about 5mm separating them, with the left-hand one on the left. Now view them as you would a stereo-gram, making them merge. You will see three images: the centre one being the 3-D image. If you cannot cause your eyes to close such a large gap, scan your pictures side by side into your computer, reduce their size by 75% or 50 %, and try again. The same technique applies to digital photographs. You can, of course, print your digital photographs.

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