Tips for Improving Your Stereo Photography
By David M. Lee
Compositionmay be the most important factor in producing excellent images.
- Simpler is nearly always better.
- Start by identifying the theme that drew you to the scene.
- Do anything you can think of to eliminate the elements that do not enhance this theme, including changing lenses, moving closer, moving sideways, raising or lowering the camera, physically moving things.
- Try getting on a ladder or standing on a hill.
- Also try different angles and look at the scene in as many different ways as possible.
- Film is inexpensive compared with going back to try it again so shoot lots of film.
- Consider using black and white film to simplify conflicting elements in the scene.
- When you can, bring the photograph back to the scene and see if it came out the way you expected it to. Eventually you will get better at visualizing what you see with what you get.
Sharpnessis lacking in many of the images I see.
- Use a tripod and a cable release. Besides holding the camera still it also helps you compose the image. At least put it in the car for shots when you don’t have to walk. Also hang a camera bag or other weight on it for extra stability.
- If you insist on hand holding the camera, use a faster film so you can use a fast enough shutter speed while still getting enough depth of field. If you don’t have sharpness, fine grain is wasted.
- If you want to use a fine grained, slow film, get a tripod and use it.
- Get a good viewer with achromatic lenses.
- If you have prints made, make sure the lab is making them as sharp as they can be. If you are printing them yourself get an excellent enlarging lens and make sure your enlarger is aligned.
Illuminationis an important consideration.
- Ideally, try to photograph some scenes around your home in different types of light so you can learn to predict how light affects the scene.
- Try to imagine the scene you are about to photograph in different light
- Consider photographing in open shade. It may not strike you as being as beautiful as a sunny day, but you might be surprised by how well it works for some scenes. Ninety percent of my award-winning images were made in subdued light.
- If you photograph in subdued light you will probably want to try to eliminate the sky from the image.
Depthenhancement can add a lot to a stereo image.
- Try to get rid of distracting foreground elements in your scene. This will allow you to increase the camera separation thereby enhancing depth in the area that interested you in the first place.
- Try to limit the background as well, this will allow you to increase the camera separation (and depth) even more.
- The 1/30 rule is a good place to start. This works out to 4" for every 10’. With lenses that are twice as long, use 2" for 10’ and for lenses which are half as long use 8" for 10’. If the scene has limited depth and the foreground extends no more than half way from the far point to the camera, then you add 50% to 100% to these figures. There are no cases I can think of where I would use more than that, though, regardless of the shallowness of the scene.