3D photos and videos can look mesmerizing. But to get the best result, you need to use a few different techniques. Here are eleven of my favorite tips for taking 3D photos with a 3D camera. First, here’s a sample 3D video shot on Qoocam EGO, which you can watch on Oculus Quest or other VR headsets (using the YouTube VR app) or with anaglyph glasses.
Not too close. One of the most important tips for shooting in 3D is not take photos or videos of objects too close to the camera. It is difficult to look at objects that are very close to your face. Similarly, shooting objects very close to the camera will strain your viewer’s eyes. If an object is too close to look at comfortably with both of your naked eyes, then it will be too close to the camera.
Not too far. If something is too far from you, then it will appear flat in 3D. Anything more than about 50 feet away will look flat. For this reason, shooting 3D photos of distant subjects like a mountain in the horizon is pointless, unless you consider the next tip.
Have something near and something far. To emphasize the depth in 3D, try to have some elements that are near and others that are far. For example, if you are going to take a photo of a distant mountain, then choose a composition where there will be a foreground element such as a tree. When viewing the image, the difference in depth will be very noticeable to your viewer. Pro tip: for videos, you can start without the foreground object then move the camera to have the foreground object move into view.
Shooting through frames and transparent objects. For the same reason, I love shooting through frames and transparent objects, which can emphasize the depth of different elements in the scene.
Reflections. One of my favorite techniques when shooting in 3D is to shoot reflections. That’s because many people don’t notice that reflections are actually three dimensional and add depth to the image.
Use a gimbal if possible. 3D photos and videos can be challenging to stabilize. Normally, electronic stabilization can be applied to shift the image and make it appear level . However, if an image was shot while tilted and you use electronic stabilization to level the images, there will be a vertical misalignment between the left eye and right eye, which will make the image uncomfortable to view in 3D. To avoid this issue, you should make sure the camera is level or use a gimbal.
Compose with both eyes. When you frame a shot with a regular camera, what you see on your screen or viewfinder is what you get. With a 3D camera, that might not be the case. Many 3D cameras have a monoscopic viewfinder or LCD, which will only show you the view from one eye. If you compose the shot with only one eye, you’ll find that the final image will not match your original composition, especially if it was shot close to the camera. That’s because the object will appear halfway between where you see it with your left eye and where it appears with your right eye. Therefore, for precise composition, you should use a stereoscopic display such as the 3D viewer of the Qoocam EGO.
Avoid the edges. With conventional photography, you might be used to the rule of thirds. But the rule of thirds needs to be modified for 3D. That’s because 3D photos and videos only appear 3D in the region that is overlapping between the left eye and right eye, so try to avoid the leftmost and rightmost edges. You can still use the rule of thirds but I would either use only the latitudinal imaginary lines, or use the golden ratio instead, where the intersections are a closer to the middle.
Stereo window. If possible, you should try not to have 3D objects get cut-off by the frame if the 3D object is protruding into the view. In the image of the Venus Fly Trap below, I made sure to avoid having the frame cut off the long stem. If the frame were to cut off the stem, then it would be better to adjust the stereo window to move it forward until the stem appears behind the frame. How do you do that? See the next tip below.
Stereo Photo Maker. One of the most useful software for adjusting 3D photos is Stereo Photo Maker by Masuji Suto. This software can convert 3D photos into various formats, adjust the alignment of the photos, and many more. Yes you can definitely adjust the stereo window. Amazingly, it is completely free. It is truly a labor of love.
Manual focus on the EGO. A tip that is unique to the EGO is to pay extra attention to the focus. The EGO uses manual focus and with its screen, it is not easy to tell if something is in focus or not. Something might look like in focus but when you view it later, you might discover that it was out of focus. Instead, the best way to shoot with the EGO is with the built-in viewer. When shooting with the built-in viewer, you can adjust the focus using the + and – buttons on the side. Pro tip: while recording a video, you can continue to adjust the focus to achieve a pull focus effect.
If you’d like to shoot 3D photos and videos, check out my Qoocam EGO review here.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mic Ty has been enjoying 3D since he was a child, watching photos on the Viewmaster and drawing stereograms. His college business project was to sell stereogram greeting cards, creating custom 3D designs for his clients. He shoots 3D photos and videos with 3D cameras, VR180 cameras, and 3D lenses for DSLRs.