A Brief Explanation of Lenticular 3D


Photo: World Imaging

As I mentioned in earlier posts, stereographs can be viewed two ways, through a viewer or by converting them to anaglyphs and looking at them with red-blue 3D glasses (actually there are some other ways, such as cross-eyed viewing, but I’m not going to cover that here). Stereo images can also be printed using a process known as lenticular printing, which uses  special plastic lenticular lenses to show a slightly different image to each eye.

The process, which is also used to create movement (such as a winking eye), was used in 3D items such as baseball cards, postcards, religious images, badges, and even album covers. Two examples of the latter are Their Satanic Majesties Request by the Rolling Stones and The Raven by The Stranglers.



In lenticular printing, the stereo image can either be printed directly on the plastic sheet, or printed first and then laminated onto the back of the plastic lenticular lens. The advantage of lenticular printing is the viewer doesn’t need to use a spacial viewer or glasses. However, it’s a relatively expensive process.

I’ll talk more about lenticular printing later, as it applies to the Fujifilm Finepix W3 digital camera. This article on Wikipedia provides a more in-depth overview of the process.

In other news, I received my stock of 3D glasses, and should have them up on the blog for sale in a few days.

More Fun With Stereographs

ANAGLYPH made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index
ANAGLYPH made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator

If you enjoyed yesterday’s demonstration of stereographs and would like to create some of your own 3D anaglyph images, here’s a quick way to give it a try.

Stereogranimator is a website run by the New York Public Library. When you go to the site, you can choose an image from their collection. The site automatically combines the left and right stereo photos into a 3D anaglyph image. Maybe sure you select View as 3D Anaglyph.

More photos from the site below:

ANAGLYPH made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index

ANAGLYPH made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index

ANAGLYPH made with the NYPL Labs Stereogranimator - view more at http://stereo.nypl.org/gallery/index


Civil War Stereographs


This is an interesting find. The Center for Civil War Photography has an online 3D photo gallery. According to the group, about 70 percent of all Civil War documentary photographs were shot as 3D stereographs.

The photos on the site have been converted to red-blue anaglyphs and require 3D glasses, but they’ll send a free pair to anyone who requests one using the link on their site.

Early 3D Photography: The Stereograph

Company of ladies watching stereoscopic photographs, by Jacob Spoel, before 1868. A very early depiction of people using a stereoscope.

Women viewing stereoscopic photographs, by Jacob Spoel, before 1868. An early depiction of people using a stereoscope.

Stereo photography has existed nearly as long as the medium of photography itself. Stereographs developed from the work of Charles Wheatstone, who wrote a paper in 1838 explaining that the human brain perceives the world three-dimensionally by combining two separate images a few inches apart. At first, photographers used one camera to take two images from slightly different vantage points. Stereo cameras were soon manufactured which used two lenses.

stereoscopic camera

Early stereoscopic camera, 1865.

The left and right images were printed side by side on a card, which could be viewed using a special viewer called a stereoscope. Stereographs were extremely popular, providing the public with 3D scenes of famous landmarks and far-off places. For a short history of stereographs, visit: http://cnx.org/content/m13784/latest.

Holmes Stereoscope

Reproduction of a Holmes Stereoscope.

In this post, I’ll be demonstrating how stereographs work. In order to view the stereo image on this page, you’ll need a pair of red/blue 3D glasses. I’m waiting for a shipment of glasses to arrive, but you can order a pair from Amazon using this link.

I started out with this stereograph of the Liberty Bell, taken in 1899.

Liberty Bell

I straightened the image in Photoshop, adjusted the tone, and sharpened the photo. Next, I cut the picture into two separate photos and aligned them in different layers. I cropped both images and saved each layer as a jpg. Finally, I used StereoPhoto Maker software to create the red/blue anaglyph image from the left and right jpgs.

Here’s the final anaglyph image:

Liberty Bell anaglyph

This post is intended to give you an idea you how it works. In a future post, I’ll show you the software and provide step-by-step instructions on how to make your own stereo image using an antique stereograph.

3D Photography: A Start

batman3d3D images have captured my imagination since I was a little kid. My first experience with the medium came when my great-aunt gave me 50 cents. Money in hand, I went to the store and bought a copy of a 3D Batman comic book. I remember putting on the red and blue 3D glasses and being amazed as the comic book heroes and villains popped out from the magazine. Unfortunately, my mom made me get rid of all my comic books, so I don’t still have a copy. (This story may have a happy ending; as I write this, I located and successfully bid on a copy on eBay.)

The other 3D technology I had when I was a kid was the Viewmaster. To be perfectly honest, I can remember the stereo viewer and the reels that went into it, but I don’t specifically remember the content.


As an adult, I was intrigued by holography but the stringent conditions, specialized equipment (such as lasers and vibration-free platforms) and cost of entry meant that I wouldn’t become the next great holographer. This probably isn’t a bad thing, as holography never really took off.

A few years ago, I bought a software kit that lets users create 3D photos from existing 2D digital photos. The result was printed on a conventional color printer and then sandwiched into a special frame that used a piece of lenticular plastic (similar to the images you may have seen on old 3D baseball cards). It worked pretty well but it was a bit of a pain to use.

20130602-193348.jpgLast month (May, 2013), I bought a Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Digital Camera. This camera takes 3D digital photos and 3D HD video. Users can order lenticular prints from Fujifilm and viewthe video on a 3D TV. All for under $200.

Looking at the image on the camera’s screen after taking a photo with the Fujifilm W3 produced a genuine OMG moment and has taken me full circle, connecting me with the love of 3D I had as a kid.

It’s inspired this blog. I’m not a 3D photo pro who is going to teach you everything I know. I’m a beginner at this. If you read this blog, we’ll learn about the world of 3D photography together.

By Marc Librescu