Autumn Moon Festival 09, 3D Photo Fun

          The 2009 Autumn Moon Festival in Chinatown, San Francisco, provided me the perfect opportunity to try out an interesting new camera gadget. The Autumn Moon festival is a harvest festival celebrated by Chinese and Vietnamese people. Around, over, or on the autumnal equinox, families gather and celebrate the harvest by eating moon cakes. The moon is at its brightest and roundest during the equinox and Chinese tradition holds that at one time the earth had ten suns, and during one harvest they all lined up together evaporating the rivers and burning the crops. The emperor offered his crown to anyone who could solve the problem. A brilliant archer, Houyi, shot out ten of the suns and became emperor. Eventually a despot, he acquired a pill for internal life. To spare the people, his wife ate the pill first and ran from her husband. She flew to the moon. Houyi’s pursuit failed, but he so loved his wife that he could not shoot down the moon. People hand out and consume moon cakes to honor the princes, for good luck, and harvest.

          My new lens, or 3D Lens In A Cap is a crude beam splitter from Loreo, Hong Kong. It creates a stereo image on a digital SLR. It is a matched pair of focusing lenses from one meter to infinity, 38 mm focal length at F22. It is a permanent focus device with three settings, 1.5 m, 3m, and infinity with 2 f-stops, F22 and F11. Although the manufacturer claims it should work with my onboard TTL flash, I’ve not been able to get it to work. Instead, I’ve been adjusting the shutter speed to accommodate light conditions, slower to bring in more, but not too slow without a tripod. My best results are between 1/30th to 1/60th of a second.

          At around $100 bucks Loreo’s 3D Lens in a Cap really works as you can tell from the first slide show below.  You will need a stereo viewer to see 3D from the parallel images. Several are available online, such as at www.3dstereo.com, who also distributes the Lens In A Cap. Bring the viewer to your eyes and move closer or further away from your screen until the image is sharp. Focus on one of the images.

          Also, I’ve been exploring a second method to display 3D images, an anaglyph. It creates a “stereoscopic 3D effect, when viewed with 2 color glasses (each lens a chromatically opposite color, usually red and cyan). Images are made up of two color layers, superimposed, but offset with respect to each other to produce a depth effect. Usually the main subject is in the center, while the foreground and background are shifted laterally in opposite directions.”1

          I am using a piece of software called Anabuilder, created by Etîenne Monneret and Didier Leboutte. It has the capability to convert 2D images to 3D from a single image, two very similar images, or in my case, stereo pairs. Anabuilder converts directly and has the capability to batch. The user can tweak the image if necessary. I took the above parallel stereo pairs and created anaglyphs sans tweaking. You will need a red and cyan lens viewer to see 3D (available as from above.)

          If you have a stereoscopic viewer or red and cyan lens, check out the slide shows and tell me what you think. So far, it’s interesting, but I would guess not many people have the viewers, so not very practical. I will have to search for a java app that can simulate one.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anaglyph_image

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