3D photography or stereoscopic photography is the art of capturing and displaying two slightly offset photographs to create three dimensional images.

The 3D effect works because of a principle called stereopsis. Each eye is in a different location, and as a result, it sees a slightly different image. The difference between these images is what lets us perceive depth. This effect can be replicated with photography by taking two pictures of the subject that are offset by the same distance as your pupils (about 2.5 inches or 63 mm). The two images are then viewed so that each eye sees only the corresponding picture. Your brain puts the two images together just as it does for normal vision and you perceive a single three dimensional image.

This project will give you a brief introduction to the methods for taking and viewing 3D photographs.

Step 1: How to Take Stereoscopic 3D Pictures

Taking stereoscopic pictures is simple. All you need is a camera and a tripod. Set up your camera and tripod on a level surface. Compose your shot with the main subject in the center and take a picture. Then slide the tripod 2.5 inches (about 63 mm) to either the right or the left. If necessary adjust the direction of your camera so that the subject is again in center of the shot. This should only be necessary for close up shots. Then take a second picture from the new position.

This method works great for subjects that are still. But if you want to capture 3D images of moving objects, then you will need some additional hardware. If you have two cameras, then you can construct a simple two camera rig that mounts onto your tripod. In this kind of setup, the cameras are mounted 2.5 inches apart from center to center. To see a good example, check out this rig by user ciscu92. Then when taking the picture, you need to activate both cameras at the same time.

If you don't have two cameras, you can construct a mirror splitter like this one by user courtervideo. This rig uses mirrors to split the image and space each part at the appropriate distance. This lets you capture both views with a single camera.
<p>Super awesome! I enjoyed all of your images!</p>
<p>I tried making this and it didn't work. Do you know what could be wrong? Reading glasses power is 3.5+</p>
<p>I take that back - it works! </p>
<p>I like rendering 3D images with Carrara Studio. How would I go about with the camera settings to make stereoscopic images? About how many degrees of rotation around the center of the scene would be needed to make images I could use for cross-eyed veiwing?</p>
Different angles will make different kinds of images. The greater the angle, the more the 3D effect will be exaggerated. As a guide, human eyes are about 5.5cm apart. So the angle would be 2 x arcsine(2.75/(the distance to the object)). <br><br>Or you can just try out different values until you get one that you like.
<p>Thank you! do you have any tips for how I can make my own stereoscopic images for a viewfinder reel? Do you have any measurements or tips?</p>
<p>If you are talking about a View Master style reel, you can find some instructions online. They used to sell kits, but they are pretty expensive to buy now.</p>
<p>Thank you SO much! There was a 3-D camera set-up that I saw at the Exploratorium in San Francisco many years ago, &amp; I've always thot about doing it myself. This is a nicely done instructable - can't wait to try it.</p>
Great article, and genius using reading glasses for viewers! I've searched for years for a cheap alternative to stereo viewers, and now with this article, I can stock up at Dollar Tree and be able to use these in my workshops! Thanks ;-)
Pictures do not have to be shot 2.5&quot; apart (the baseline). If it is more, objects will appear smaller but closer, with a more obvious 3D effect. For macro shots, it should be less. There should never be anything in the picture closer than 5X the baseline, and nothing that is in one picture but not the other. You can take 3D pics of clouds from a plane by taking a picture, waiting a second, and taking another. Don't get the wing in the shot.

About This Instructable




Bio: My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker ... More »
More by DIY Hacks and How Tos:How to Make a Festivus Pole Add Wings to an Infant's Halloween Costume Bubble Bath That Never Runs Out Of Bubbles 
Add instructable to: