After reading Scoble's post about "Photo Training" where he met a person called Phil Glatz who setup his camera rig for taking 3D photos, it made me remember a time when those 3D posters with noisy 3D stereo vision images (Magic Eye) were all the rage. That was when I came across an article that briefly teaches you how to take 3D images with your camera by taking two pictures that are approximately 5degrees away from each other to simulate images seen from your left and right eye. So that's what I did when I had some spare time today conducting our dry-runs for the TechReady event.
Taking stereo photos:
I took my HTC phone and walked over to our cafeteria and took two pictures side by side and using my eyes as a guide to approximate 5 degrees. The good thing about using mobile devices is that the LCD shows you in real-time what you're looking at on the other end allowing you align the pictures when you take them.
A tip: pick an object in the middle of the image as your point of reference and make sure the 2nd image is slightly to the right (or left) and have that same object remain in the middle of the screen.
In this picture, I used the cash register as the point of reference.
Once you have those pictures, all you need to do is to put them side by side using a photo editing software like Photoshop or Paint.NET. I found out that portrait images work the best because viewing stereo images depends very much on how far apart the two images are. The further apart they are, the harder for your eye to see them. Once I have the photos in Paint.NET, I scaled them to 300 pixels each horizontally (width) and put them side by side, so the total width is around 600-800 pixels.
You can try this yourself, make two stereo images, one at 600 pixels and the other at 800 pixels wide. You'll notice that there's a significant strain on your eyes when viewing the 800 pixels image.
How to view stereo images:
There are basically two ways (parallel or cross-eyed) of viewing stereo photos without wearing those geeky red-blue 3D glasses. This site has a great tutorial on how to view stereo them: http://www.vision3d.com/dots.html. I personally find the parallel way much easier on the eye but then again, everybody's different. Try both to see which yield the best result.
Once you get the hang of it, try viewing these pictures I took.
(image taken for parallel viewing)
(same image for cross-eyed viewing)
(landscape parallel. Harder to view)
So there, a simple yet fulfilling activity with your mobile phone. Try it and share your pictures with me, I'd love to see what other images you guys will take. My next weekend project is to have two phones mounted on a harness and write a simple software that communciates between phones to synchronize the moment they take pictures.
** UPDATE: You can use StereoPhoto Maker (SPM) to create these images too, saves you a ton of time meddling with a paint program. Pretty cool!