Tips for Improving Your Stereo Photography
By David M. Lee
Composition may 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
- 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.
Sharpness is 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 donít 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 donít 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.
Illumination is 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
- If you photograph in subdued light you will probably want to try to
eliminate the sky from the image.
Depth enhancement 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 10í. With lenses that are twice as long, use 2" for 10í and
for lenses which are half as long use 8" for 10í. 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.
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