We are on the cusp of a new era in stereo photography. This isn't the first such era. The popularity of stereo photography has waxed and waned over the years. It was extremely popular in the 19th century when almost every home had a stereo viewer and a stack of cards with scenes from around the world. It was last popular in the 1950s when one of it's advocates, Dwight Eisenhower, was President of the United States. As an editor wrote at the time in a book on stereo
photography by Peter Gowland "Everybody, but everybody, seems to have gone stereo crazy: the President of the United States, hundreds of Hollywood celebrities, practically every European traveler, even the mild-mannered, white-haired gentlemen who can be found almost every evening in the first few rows of Radio City's
Music Hall shooting the shapely Rockettes. Look in any direction on a clear day and you're bound to see a handful of stereo fans clicking away."
Eventually that era passed, along with its signature tail fins and sock hops, and stereo photography has been in the photographic background for decades. It was only with the 2009 introduction of the Fuji W1 stereo camera that stereo photography moved seriously into the digital era. This camera and its successors have reinvigorated and greatly simplified what had previously been a laborious process from beginning to end.
This new era is quite different from past eras. The mass market in consumer electronics, of which the stereo camera is a part, is rushing headlong toward a 3D future. All of the necessary elements are being 3D enabled-be they cameras, TV sets, projectors, Blu-ray players, computer monitors and video cameras. Whether this is a permanent change or a passing fancy remains to be seen. Whatever the outcome, the 3D camera is no longer an isolated island, but is now mainstreamed
into consumer electronics.
The author would like to thank Susan Pinsky & David Starkman of Reel 3-D Enterprises and Bob Aldridge of The Stereoscopic Society (www.StereoscopicSociety.org.uk
) for all of the time they took answering questions and making suggestions. Despite their best efforts, any problems that remain are entirely the fault of the author."
With so much happening all at once it's easy to get confused. The goal of this book is to sort things out for you so you can understand not just the digital stereo camera but the rest of the digital world in which it is embedded. If we talk about stereo film photography at all it's only for historical perspective. We also concentrate on the newer twin-lens digital stereo cameras, leaving esoteric two-camera combinations to others. However, much of what you learn here can be used with single-lens cameras—which are as good as twin-lens cameras when taking stereo close-ups of subjects such as flowers or distant scenes such as landscapes.
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When capturing stereo images is discussed in this book it's primarily the stereo aspects of photography although we do discuss many of the basic techniques common to all forms of photography such as focus, exposure and the like. Instead we have included a table of things you might want to do when capturing stereo photos and tell you where the needed techniques are discussed in the book "Using Your Digital Camera" available in the ShortCourses.com bookstore at
As you begin your journey in stereo photography, you are following in the footsteps of some our most esteemed photographers. Many of these, especially those practicing in the 19th century, photographed in stereo extensively because there was an insatiable market for stereo cards showing wonders of the world in 3D. Early stereo photographers include the inventors of photography Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre and other well-known photographers including George N. Barnard, Felix Beato, H.H. Bennett, Charles Bierstadt, Matthew B. Brady, Roger Fenton, F. Jay Haynes, Jack L. Hillers, Thormas Houseworth, William Henry Jackson, Eadweard J. Muybridge, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, A. J. Russell, Charles R. Savage and Carleton E. Watkins. Google any of these names to see examples of their work. Although we know the work of many of these photographers, those who worked as employees of the large stereo photography publishers such as E & HT Anthony and Keystone were usually not credited so remain anonymous. Also the negatives captured by well known photographers were traded and sold so it's sometimes hard to know who took which photos.
A DIMENSION IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE
Robert Ebert, one-half of a once influential movie reviewing team, calls 3D in movies "..a waste of a perfectly good dimension."
As you read this book you will find it different from many of the stereo photography books published over the years. It is an introductory book, designed to help experienced photographers explore the field of stereo photography without getting bogged down in the scientific theories and mathematics that so many books dwell on. What you learn here should help make you a successful stereo photographer, and if you want to burrow deeper, there are many other fine books.