In this section, we bring to you detailed methods and techniques related to sterephotography, from beginners and seasoned photographers alike. The aim is to share tips and notes on how to get started on specific methods. In other words, your personal DIY stereo guide.
written for the stereosite by Vanessa Grein, Germany
Ready for a journey into deep space? Then why not create your own universe by drawing it?
Space and galaxies have always fascinated me and when I started painting some years ago I created several galaxies in the classical way — in 2D on canvas. But when the book Cosmic Clouds 3D by David Eicher and Brian May was released in 2020, I got the idea of converting my paintings into 3D by using a depthmap. And I realised that the result was far from satisfying. So I switched from canvas to digital artwork, which has the advantage of being easier to convert into a stereoscopic drawing than a traditional one.
But how can you create your own 3D universe? My deep space drawings were made on an iPad using Photoshop and Procreate, but basically any program which provides different layers will serve the purpose. The layers are the key to creating the 3D-effect.
After starting with a dark background, it is time to add the clouds. The easiest way to draw them is by using cloud or fog brushes that come with the program. But I recommend the use of different brushes to create a more realistic look. There are plenty of free presets for Procreate available, or you can just design your own brush. Be adventurous and mix different colours and shadows to achieve more variety.
It’s important to not draw all on one layer; rather, divide it onto at least two or three layers, which will be moved sideways at the end to create the stereoscopic effect. Once the nebula is finished you can put in some stars: Place them using different sizes and opacities on different layers. I use at least five or six layers because I have found that the more layers you can move, the more depth you get.
When you are happy with your drawing you can start the conversion into a stereoscopic drawing. Don’t forget to save the original one because this will be your left image. The right one is created by moving the layers some pixels to the right. The individual amount you should move the various layers depends very much on the subjects and the effect you want to achieve.
Once you have moved everything you can save the right image. Place left and right image side by side onto a new layer, or just use the StereoPhoto Maker or the i3DSteroid App which works perfectly on an iPad. I prefer the app because you I can easily check if the 3D effect is good enough or if I have to change something. I am lucky that I can freeview stereoscopic images (parallel only), but of course you can use a stereo viewer as well.
The advantage of SPM or the iD3stereoid app is that you can easily save the image for parallel and cross view. But I discovered that sometimes the same stereopair looks satisfying with both viewing methods. These are the final results.
There is not one right way of doing it, especially because my galaxies are artistic images and not photographs. Sometimes it is just trial & error until I´m satisfied with the result. And sometime I just delete it and start a new one.
Start your own space journey and always remember: There is no boundary in art. Enjoy the process of creating something new!
Want to see more? The space shuttle is waiting for you to take you to another Journey Into Deep Space!
Vanessa Grein (Aachen, Germany)
I am Vanessa Grein and I work as a spokeswoman in Aachen, Germany. My stereo journey started about five years ago but my photos had never seen the light of day until last year. Encouraged by Dr. Brian May, I shared them on Instagram and experienced a lovely warm welcome by the stereo community. Many of the photographers have their signature styles and I was looking for something new. After experimenting a lot I decided to combine my two passions — painting and stereoscopy — and came up with deep space drawings. But it might be just the beginning of a new adventure.
written for the stereosite by Mary Friargiu, Italy
I present you a series of modern stereo cards, inspired by the Victorian way of depicting reality: Stereoscopic photography. I’ve been inspired and fascinated by the atmosphere of old stereoscopic cards, which were, in their time, the most realistic way to immortalize and then relive the memories driven by the sight of a particular scene. Stereoscopic photos were also considered an effective travel ticket or boarding pass to places around the World during bygone times when travel was not within everyone’s reach. Such stereo ‘postcards’ allowed people to switch off from reality and bring their minds to other places. Stereography made travel more comfortable and affordable for everyone – and as Oliver Wendell Holmes implied, it also “allowed the viewer to own the scene, to place it in a viewer and stand gazing over it”. Another quote that would perfectly reflect the Victorian heyday of stereoscopy comes from William Darrah:
“A steady stream of stereo views depicting the classic antiquities of Rome, Naples, Athens, Egypt and the Holy Land, together with those of cathedrals, public buildings and palaces of the tourists centres Europe provided mementos of the journey and vicarious adventure for those who had to remain at home.”
By the latter half of the 19th century, many towns had their own resident stereoscopic photographer, which means there were plenty of local subjects available for people with stereoscopes, as well as travel cards from far-off lands. I’ve been inspired to create my own virtual travel cards after encountering many stereograms published by the Stereo-Travel Co. (on Google and various stereoscopy blogs); and the Scenes in our Village series by Thomas Richard Williams – a collection of stereo cards in which Williams depicts life in a small English village at the beginning of 1850s. For my series of stereo cards I wandered the paths of such stereocards, with the aim to take you on a virtual walking trip around the streets and old footpaths of my town. I’ve also tried to recreate the unique atmosphere that a vintage card would give to the viewer, from the framing style to the warm sepia tones as in Williams’ works. The result is a collection of gathering places, landmarks, landscapes and secret corners of the Old Town. Here is another example:
I took these stereo photographs with my Smartphone, using the 3DSteroidPro app, which you can easily download to your mobile phone. I use Photoshop Lightroom to enhance colours, light and shadows. I align and crop my stereo pairs with Stereo Photo Maker, which has various built-in tools that make it easy to avoid violating the stereo window. Once aligned and cropped — in a semi-square format — you can find the ‘Print stereo card’ tool (File/Print stereo card). You can choose between different types: Custom stereo card, Classic stereo card, Holmes stereo card, 6x13 Format, and finally the Cabinet card. The characteristic sepia tone is also done with Stereo Photo Maker (Adjust/Colour adjustment/Grey scale/Sepia colour [L/R]). You can also add a title, description, and even the authorship. You can create your own modern stereo card in 10 minutes!
If you want to see the full series of modern Stereocards from Iglesias, visit the corresponding gallery Villa Ecclesiae.
Mary Friargiu (Iglesias, Sardinia, Italy)
I developed my passion for photography during the past couple of years. My interest in stereoscopy, came from the re-establishment of The London Stereoscopic Company and Dr. Brian May’s encouragement to take stereo photographs. I’ve been intrigued by his stereographs, so when I discovered that I could make my own stereo pictures, I was keen to learn everything about stereoscopy. To me, it’s the best way to connect with everything that surrounds me. I use my Smartphone camera (Samsung Galaxy A41) to take stereos; my favourite subjects are landscapes and flowers.
written for the stereosite by Roberto Manzano, Spain
The reason for this article is to attempt to explain the relationship between my profession as a sculptor and the stereoscopic image.
Unlike painting, in sculpture, the perception of spatial depth may be the most important thing to consider. The relationship of each of the elements distributed in the space is the real challenge to take into account in creating sculpture. In the vast majority of cases, color is dispensed with to focus attention on three-dimensional shapes. In a traditional two-dimensional photograph of a sculpture that perception of depth is lost, and therefore two-dimensional photography is a very ineffective means to represent the spatial awareness of a sculpture.
When one day I had the opportunity to learn about the stereoscopic representation of an image, I understood the true meaning of photography and the magic it can bring to any type of image. Since then, etheric photography has been an important tool, if not the most important, to capture, copy and represent everything I see and believe, not only in the world of sculpture, but in all aspects of life. I also want to relate my photographs to the stereoscopic daguerreotypes of the mid-nineteenth century as a tribute and reminder of a technique that despite being more than 150 years old, is unequivocally more modern in concept than the standards we use today.
Female sitting nude
This slightly larger than life size sculpture represents a portrait of a woman. A tribute to a person who loves himself. The pose is idealized, while the face responds to reality. In this piece, the position does not portray very exhibitionist spirit, but is rather relaxed and natural, without looking for anything expressive beyond the simple fact of being aware of being naked. The position of the hands and the treatment of the hair is what I have enjoyed the most about the sculpture.
I am still working on finishing this sculpture in my workshop.
In some images I want to show visually where the sculpture is located inside the marble block before starting to carve it. To do this, I have utilized one of the possibilities that photography offers, which is photogrammetry. It is nothing more than the ability of stereoscopy to understand depth, guided by a computer program. This allows me to get a polygonal model of the marble block fresh from the quarry. Once digitized, I manipulate it in a three-dimensional environment, taking into account the scale, using the computer. Here I can combine it with the digitized model of the sculpture, to place the completed sculpture exactly where it suits me best within the block of marble. It is interesting to view the possible results in stereoscopic images, playing with transparencies and other elements to understand the three-dimensional environment in which the sculpture is located within the block of marble.
Extemófilo is a 60 cm tall bronze sculpture. It is found in a private collection.
It represents a girl in an unnatural, purely exhibitionist position, intended only to attract attention. The accessories are also absurd, only justified by the clear intention of enhancing the figure of the body on display.
The purpose is not to criticize the absurdity of the girl’s intention with her posture, but rather, to show one more facet of the human being that causes me to pigeonhole her as a being with extremophilic capacities.
White Carrara marble sculpture of a young woman lying on her back. It is represented in life size.
It began as a commission to make a stand for a table. The only condition was that the main motive had to be a female figure. The first sketches resulted in this position and it was ruled out that it should serve as a support for a table. The posture made sense on its own.
Balance represents an ideal state between the mind and the body, a kind of natural connection that thoughts transfer to the body; and the mind, in turn, receives the result of the stimuli from the body.
In this piece, I felt very comfortable with the type of marble, since it offered me the possibility of representing the anatomical details that I considered very necessary to give realism to the human figure. I also wanted the material from which it is made to be evident and also to show contrast between the soft leather and the raw stone.
Monument to the Fisherman
The Monument to the Fisherman is a 250cm high marble sculpture. It is located in Carboneras, a town on the coast of Almería in Spain. It represents a fisherman who has just caught a swordfish. He is leaning on a fishing net and gazing out at the sea, aware that the battle he has just fought has ended in the same difficult scenario which he faces each day.
Swordfish is one of the typical products of the fishing of this town.
Goddess of Fishing
This sculpture is part of the sculptural group that forms the cover of the hotel “Maravilla Palace” in Estepona (Malaga).
The group is made up of two goddesses, fishing and agriculture, and a central shield with the hotel’s logo. The figures are life-sized, sculpted in cream-colored limestone, which is the same stone used in the building itself.
I am currently working in the final phase of competing these sculptures.
I thought it would be interesting to show photos of the work in process, since it is the least known aspect of stone sculptures.
The Goddess of Fishing has as representative attributes, an anchor, a headdress with typical sailors braids and a squid that seems to attend to the gestures that she makes with her hands. Her position is very sedentary, looking down to greet people as they approach the front door of the hotel.
This sculpture is two meters high. It is carved from a single block of marble. The scene represents a girl and a boy playing. The intention is to represent a power competition, in which each player uses different strategies to achieve their goal.
The child below, plays with a doll that is a soldier, representing the power of force, and a chest that represents the power of money. He protects it under his knee. The girl is given a doll.
The game consists of the girl trying to achieve the power that the boy has. To accomplish this, the girl is snatching one of the keys that the boy has in his possession, taking advantage of the fact that he is distracted trying to recover his doll. The child does not use a thoughtful strategy, he only becomes enraged and tries to achieve his goal by force. The girl is interested in economic power, so she focuses on getting one of the two keys that open the chest that the boy controls. She has reflected on her strategy, feels confident with her plan and is more elegant as she can envision how her plan begins to succeed.
In short, the boy, confident in his strength, believes that he can remain dominant without issue, while the girl has had to draw up a plan, since she could not best the boy using her weapons.
This sculpture was one of the first works that I created when I had the opportunity to buy a block of marble twenty years ago. I still have it in my workshop. For me it was a complicated technical challenge, a test to demonstrate to myself how far I could go when transitioning the model of a sculpture with complex shapes to a block of marble without making irreparable mistakes.
Roberto Manzano (Almería, Spain)
My career began in Madrid, with a high level of technical training applied to sculpture. My first experiences were presented in workshops of stone reproductions and carvings in expanded polystyrene. A public competition offered me the opportunity to create my first work in bronze on Palma Street in Madrid. I moved to Almería In search of marble and there I have developed most of my work. I have made numerous monumental sculptures for various towns in Almería and in other Andalusian provinces. I have also created sculptures for individual architectural projects, and at the same time I have been developing more personal pieces.
My large format work can be found in different countries throughout Europe, Asia and America where I have received several international awards and recognitions. This has given me the opportunity to share experiences with sculptors from all over the world.
Currently, I incorporate many digital tools into the creative and technical process. These include: design and modeling computer programs, numerical control reproduction methods applied to sculpture, as well as photographic techniques to visualize shapes in stereoscopic 3D and digitization of shapes using photogrammetry.
I consider stereoscopy a critical tool in all aspects of sculpture. Since I first encountered it six years ago, my interest in this field has grown so that I consider it nearly my most versatile tool. It allows me to capture and represent the three dimensional reality in which I live. The use of stereoscopy is not just a visualization tool, it also allows me to take molds of the forms represented in stereoscopic images.