Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photography: When to use 3D?

I've had my first 3D camera, a Fujifilm Finepix Real 3D W3, for about 9 months. One of the things I think I have sorted out is when to use 3D in my photographs.

His Chair. His Place.
(R/C anaglyph)
The short answer as far as I'm concerned is: Use it for everything. 

The simple reason I say that is, to me, everything looks better with some depth in it. Depth adds information to context, literally adding another dimension to every photo you take or video you may capture.

Fortunately, the Fuji camera has a feature that allows you to take both a 2D and a 3D photo at the same time and stores a copy of each on the SDHC card. Other devices, like the LG Optimus 3D phone, take side-by-side "unsqueezed" 3D jpeg images. If you want a 2D version you just open the file and crop away either the left or right image and you have a 2D image.

A Moment in a Market
(R/C anaglyph)
Opportunity: Taking good photos is often a matter of luck intersecting with opportunity. You have to be ready to do the right thing in the moment, if you get the chance. You might only get one shot. But if you didn't take a 3D image in the first place, then you've given that option up and may not have second chance.

 (R/C anaglyph)
Memories: A 3D image may seem like a gimmick while the subject in the photo is readily available. But I find it takes on a different light when the subject is inaccessible or gone entirely. Then, a 3D image is about as perfect a representation of the subject as one can hope for. Twenty years after a loved on has passed on or travelled far away, a 3D image lets you see them now as immediately present as they were when the image was taken. This is even more true for 3D video. I find 3D images and videos have the power to put me into that moment again in a way that 2D photos and videos simply can't do. The subject of the photo or video might be a person or a pet or place or thing you you owned that is now gone. It could be anything that's important to you. I want my recordings of these people and things to be as true to life as possible and 3D just moves that goal a little closer.

Fire Destroys Heritage Building
Toronto 2011 01 03
(R/C anaglyph)
History: I separate history from memories. Memories are mine or yours. History is a record that transcends you or I. When we are gone and our memories are dust the records we make of things that are important to us now will inform future generations of our own families and wider society about who we were and how we lived our lives. I think it would be amazing for someone 100 or 1000 years from now to be able to look at 3D images I've captured and be able to see what I saw just as I saw it as it was then....whatever the subject may be. For perspective: those old black and white photos from 150 years ago tell us a great deal. If they were hand-painted with colour, as many were, they tell us even more. They seem more real. If they also have depth and spatial context, they tell us more still....and are even more 'real'.

Whether it's a sunset or a puppy or the flowers in your garden, I think 3D is appropriate for any and all of them. The only situations where 3D fails are where the device capturing the image can't do it. The Fuji camera, with its 75mm base parallax doesn't produce good 3D images of anything closer than 2 metres. It needs to be cross-eyed to do it and it can't be - it's a camera. Similarly, the LG Optimus 3D with its 25mm base parallax can't really take good 3D photos closer than 1/2 a metre. If you want to take extreme close-ups you either need special 3D equipment or a 2D photo will have to do.

These are my opinions, of course, I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts you might about when to use 3D.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

3D "HDR" Style Auckland Skyscapes

I was walking home from work late yesterday afternoon and as I crossed the Northern Motorway at Sunset Road, the Sun went behind a cloud. For someone wanting to shoot a photo of the sky that's a good thing. Otherwise the Sun more or less wipes out everything else in the frame because it's so bright.

I took these two photo on my LG Optimus 3D android phone then later used GIMP v2.6 to transform them into something a bit different. But....I didn't actually do anything to them that I coudn't have done with the editing tools right on the phone. I just didn't think of it until later. :-)

These are stereo 3D. I've shrunk them to 1024x384, but that's still a lot bigger than the display size in this post, so if you want to see them larger, just click on them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Auckland Sunrise - 2011 09 20

I walked to work this morning. Along Glenfield Road below Sunset Rd is a stretch with a high retaining wall. It's great place to take photos to the east without trees or buildings getting in the way of the shot.

This photo was taken with an LG Optimus 3D phone, then brightness, contrast and saturation adjusted with GIMP to more accurately reflect what my eyes saw. Very few cameras actually catch an outdoors scene exactly as you it. But they get more than enough to let you fix that. On the other hand, indoor shots tend to be more accurate and require less 'post-processing'. To be fair to the LG Optimus 3D phone, the image editing app (2D and 3D) in the camera app (in the phone) would have let me do all of these adjustments right in the phone.

Click the image to see the full size.

20110920 - 07:02 - Sunrise over the Hauraki Gulf

Monday, September 19, 2011

"The Gap" at Piha

I'd heard about "The Gap" at Piha and while I was there I thought it might be good to go and have a look. Before I did that, I was wandering around on the main beach, taking in the sights and sounds as well as getting my feet wet as the waves slid up the beach, flat and fast, after each surge.

At one point, I happened to look to the cliffs beyond the south end of the beach...and saw a huge plume of white water appear in - and ABOVE - the gap in the cliffs. It must have been utterly huge to be that big and that high relative to the cliffs.

I headed over there immediately. The walk to The Gap was steep but short, then swept away across the face of a hill. It took maybe 15 mins to get there at a fast walk once I got onto the track from the beach.

It certainly is a dramatic place. I shot this video from a point above the generally sand-filled channel the gap gives entry to. I wasn't lucky enough to capture a wave anything like the one I had witnessed from the other end of the beach, but imagine a plume of water on the left side of the gap that was higher than the face of the cliff. It had to be for me to see it from the bottom of Lion Rock.

I didn't stay long as the rain was visibly coming in from the Tasman Sea and it looked like it was going to set in when it arrived. But I had time to shoot these two minutes of video. They may give you sense of the power and magic of this place.

Turn the sound up! It's 95% roaring sea and waves, 5% wind.

(Click through to YouTube to see this video in 2D or in a different 3D format.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Footprints at Piha

Went to Piha this morning and spent several hours there taking 3D photos and video. One of the shots I like best is this one of a pair of footprint tracks in the sand. In taking the shot, the Sun was so bright I couldn't see the screen on the Fuji Finepix Real 3D W3 camera, so I held it down around waste height, tipped it to what I though might be good angle...and pressed the shutter. The result was exactly what I had hoped for. I was lucky.

This image is a red /cyan anaglyph. If you want to see it in full size, click on the image below. You need red/cyan glasses to see the 3D effect. It's well worth it. The effect in this image is powerful, IMHO.

Friday, September 16, 2011


You have your 3D camera and you want to share your awesome pics and videos. What do you do?

I went looking for sites that specialise in enabling the sharing of 3D content and found a few. Each has strengths and weaknesses and none of them are perfect. But the price (free) is certainly not heavy and you can't really complain too much.

My aim in sharing 3D content was to make it as easy as possible for others who may not have much experience with 3D images and how to use them. I also wanted a site that let the user turn the 3D off if they just aren't up for it.  I also like to view my images in red/cyan anaglyph full screen on my big PC monitor. The effect is amazing, but sometimes the parallax in the anaglyph images is 'off' and most sites offer no way to fix that.

3DF33d.TV does all these things. This is why it's my favourite 3D viewing and sharing site by a reasonably wide margin. It's the only site out there that lets you fix misaligned parallax and see a good-quality, high resolution image (or video) at the same time. No one else comes close. The site provider / operator, Keith Fredericks, has put together something very special for us all.

Up front, 3DF33D.TV requires your web browser to support WebGL. That means you need a very recent version of Forefox or Chrome. You should see prominent graphic explaining your WebGL options and how to enable it of you don't have it.

Once the WebGL is sorted (if you had to do anything at all), the default viewing mode is 2D. You have to select a 3D viewing mode in order to see it and the selection button is top and centre on the main page.

When you click on the "Select 3D mode" icon you're taken to a page that offers a wide range of choice for 3D viewing options. To be honest, I don't know what half of them are (yet), but I'm sure the people who need them will identify them readily. 

The main selection list above should be good enough, but if you need something more specialised, you can click on "Other Modes" and gain access to an additional list of 3D viewing modes. For example, regular (full colour) red/cyan anaglyph may be good enough for most things, but if you have an image that has a lot of  red and / or blue in it, your glasses will make those parts of the image look......just wrong. So, instead, you'd click on Other Modes and select "Dubois", which alters the shading of the reds and blues in the images to optimise them for viewing through red/cyan lenses. A bright blue sky on a sunny day will look much more natural using Dubois red/cyan anaglyph  than the regular full-colour flavour. It's this kind of flexibility that makes 3DF33D.TV a win for me. This works for both stills and video. 

Fixing the parallax in red/cyan anaglyph mode (if you selected one) is easy for any still or video. Moving the mouse cursor to the top-right in the image or video when, not in fullscreen mode,  gives you access to the parallax adjustment tool (I don't know what Keith calls it.) With your glasses on, just use the mouse pointer to slide the white dot up or down until the ghosting disappears. Then you can make it fullscreen. The parallax adjuster is also available in fullscreen mode, but doesn't work. It will immediately go to the highest negative number and stay there, so best to do this before going to fullscreen.  

Images can be up to 20MB each. Maximum resolution is 3048 x 1080. The site supports "png gif jpg jpeg mpo" image formats. It can also handle *.jps files if the file being uploaded has been renamed to end in *.jpg. Always make a copy. Don't mess with your originals. I have an LG Optimus 3D phone camera and it produces *.jps files and this method works fine for me. 

This is all goodness. Could 3DF33D.TV be better? Sure. I admit, I don't know what Keith's goals are for the site, so what might be good from my point of view might not with his vision of where he wants to take 3DF33D.TV. Keith posts a blog entry on the site every few days and they are always informative and or entertaining. His enthusiasm for 3D shines through brightly. He recently published a book: "The Future of 3D Media". I bought an e-copy copy via Amazon for US$9.99. 

The site allows you to use tags, but has no folders. So if you want to organise your uploaded content you will need to think about a set of  tags that will let you group your images in ways useful to you. I use permutations on the date that include my user-id initials as other people may also want to use dates and won't want my images mixed in with theirs. For example, we can't ALL use "201107" for July 2011 without overlapping.  I also add a word or two about the main subject, the location - city and country, my username (so I or others can select only my images/videos) and the device that shot the image ("LG Optimus 3D" or whatever). There is a search function, but any new user will rely heavily on the "new, hot, random" selection choices on the feature pages to locate content of interest. There is no high-level topic index.  You have to browse and when you find a user whose content you like, you can drill into it.  

It's possible to rate images and videos as one to five stars. I usually do. But no one else using the site seems to use this much. You can also leave comments, but I'm one of the few who do. There is no real "community" side to the site. If you want forums for sharing, learning or teaching, you'll have to go to another site. The fonts on the menus can look a bit "chunky". In some browsers the words on the menus are black on black unless you're mousing over them. But generally the site is stable and stuff just works. I've found in video playback that the player doesn't really buffer much of the stream, so if the network path between you and 3DF33D.TV is being "choppy" due to congestion at some point, there is no way to get around it. For this reason, I can only very rarely use the 720p HD playing mode with the site, but the 360p mode works very well almost all the time. 

The user community on the site is still quite small as far as I can tell, but the hit-counts on the content seem to be rising, so interest appears to be growing. The more content there is, the more people will want to go there. 

The summary for me is that 3DF33D.TV is the best 3D sharing site out there. If you haven't tried it then it's time you did.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Lazy Cat

Everyone knows clean washing makes a great bed for a lay-about cat.

Shot with an LG Optimus 3D phone and uploaded with Google's Blogger app for Android. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 May Be Closing Down

3D fans everywhere had some bad news yesterday. Phil Dhingra, founder and owner of, announced he will likely have to close the site down as he can no longer afford to keep it going.

In tweets with Phil, he told me he'd need  (presumably US) $300 - $400 per month to keep the site doing, so we aren't talking mountains of money. If as few as 30 or 40 people donated a few dollars / month, could carry on.  

There aren't many 3D-specific image sharing sites out there and it would be a shame to see Phil's site go dark. hosts over 43,000 images uploaded by Nintendo 3DS owners, as well as several thousand images uploaded by owners of other devices. It supports upload of *.jps and *.mpo files and  for viewing offers red/cyan anaglyph, stereo cross-eyed / "freeviewing", side-by-side parallel or your choice of left or right. You can also see images in an animated "wiggle" format that I personally find very annoying, but that's just me.

The site also lets you see your images in fairly good quality and doesn't over-compress them.

Hopefully Phil will find a way to solicit sufficient donations to keep 3dporch,com up and running. If you think you have a solution or want to help, his contact details are at the bottom of the page here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

LG Optimus 3D: I love the 3D!

My LG Optimus 3D arrived 3 weeks ago. I'd ordered it from on a Thursday afternoon. It left Guangchou on Friday, the next day. It was in my hand by Noon the following Monday.

I'm impressed. But it got better.

It's a Telecom XT version (P925G) and is rich in Rogers livery, intended for sale in Canada.

I'm really impressed with the Optimus 3D. It feels good. Runs really quick and smooth. The 3D screen is actually pretty good. I'm able to watch 3D video from YouTube 'natively' on the (4.5"? - bigger than the HTC Sensation) screen without crossing my eyes or wearing glasses. That's nice!


The LG Optimus 3D is pre-loaded with Android v2.2 upgradeable to 2.3 in October '11 (I'm told).


The screen resolution is 800x480...which on a big screen works out really well for these 53yo eyes.  You can actually see the detail in the icons! I'm not used to that as my other phones have had smaller screens or higher resolution. Either way, things were smaller on the screen.

Performance / Capacity

The phone's dual-core 1GHz processor delivers good, snappy performance. The 512MB of RAM may be less than other top-end phones in relative terms, but it doesn't appear to matter in absolute terms. Perhaps this is due to the "tri-dual" implementation LG have used: dual-core, dual-channel, dual RAM. Whatever, this phone can't be accused of being slow.

There is 1GB of app storage. not as much as some other high-end phones, but more than I have ever used. I still have 400MB left after installing every app i can think of that I might want to use every now and again...maybe. Games typically put their data on the sdcard, so that doesn't matter, either.

Without adding external storage, you get about 5.5GB of internal storage space - of which about 1.5 GB is used to store included 3D apps. I added a 16GB Class 10 microSD. I suspect they have an 8GB sdcard hard-wired inside and have subdivided it into partitions for system, installed app storage and user data / app space.

Camera and Photos / Video

The 3D photos the phone produces are 5mp 2D stills or 3.2mp x 2 stereo images. Just good enough for me, but may not be for others. The camera app has a built-in editor for editing 2D and 3D photos. It's actually very useful. You can tweek the pics righrt there on phone before sharing them. You can crop or resize. You can manipulate brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, RGB and there is an "auto" option as well. You can then save the file with a new name if you prefer - and I always prefer as I never alter my originals. You very often can't just take them again. The moment passed.

The files are in *.jps format, which is basically side-by-side, cross-eyed, jpeg. If your favourite PC or phone-based viewing / editing app can't see *.jps, you can just make a copy (I never mess with the originals!) ending in *.jpg and it should be able to see them. The still camera's default still image aspect is 4:3. I prefer 16:9....but I have my Fujifilm 3D camera for that.

Every 3D sharing web site I know of can handle *.jps directly, except will allow you to upload the LG Optimus 3D's pics provided the file name ends with the *.jpg extension. No problem. Just make a copy that ends in *.jpg.

The video the LG Optimus 3D produces is 720p HD. The quality is pretty good for a phone and considering there are two images in there....not just one.


The LG Optimus 3D's twin cameras are 25mm apart. That's about 1 inch, for those in the last country on Earth that isn't metric. (You know who you are). That is about 1/3 the distance between human eyes, which is about 75mm (also like the Fujifilm Finepix Real 3D W3 camera). This means the 'parallax' - the difference between the two views - is also much less. What THAT means is that you lose the sense of depth sooner than you would if the same scene were viewed through human eyes The upside - and there is one - is that you can see depth clearly in photos taken at much closer distances than with a camera that matches the human eye distance. For example, the LG Optimus 3D phone can happily snap away at things only half a metre (1/5 feet) away to good 3D effect, while the Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 camera struggles to properly represent things in scenes that are close then 1.5 metres (about 5 feet) away.  This matter particularly if you want to use the red/cyan anaglyph 3D viewing method. Images that are too close just won't line up right if the parallax is too great. The LG Optimus 3D is great for 3D of people and things close to you. A camera with greater parallax (like the Fuji) is better for  outdoor scenes and landscapes...and people and things more than 3 metres (10ft) away.

The UI

The Optimus 3D's UI looks like Samsung's TouchWiz, but is actually usable....I kinda like it. We'll see how we go. I removed all the Rogers apps from the Home screen. No big deal. They don't work anyway in NZ.

The "3D Space" UI is also good fun. A sort of spin-able horizontal wheel of 3D aspects (3D Apps & Games, YouTube, 3D Gallery, 3D Apps, 3D Camera) all presented in a 3D display with depth that I really like. A new owner of the phone can see immediately a strong hint of  the potential of this device. Opinions will vary. They always do with 3D. :-)

I really like the glass on the LG Optimus 3D. I use SlideIt, a swipe keyboard...and the glass on the LG doesn't get "sticky" if you're writing a long email. On my SG-S and HTC Sensation I noticed the glass face can gradually increase friction with my finger tip. This doesn't happen with the LG. Odd....but good.

3D Games

I've also had a chance to download the 318MB for "Asphalt 6" racing game - included with the phone (Remember - included stuff may vary from telco to telco). I think it looks great in 3D. :-)  I've also had a quick peek at "Nova", also included, and it looks like it could be fun. The graphics are good enough for me. There is a golf game, too. Haven't tried it yet. Also noticed I can play any 3D video on YouTube in 3D on the screen without needing glasses. That's cool.

Bottom Line

I'm *really* impressed. It's better than I thought it would be. The LG Optimus 3D is my main phone now, even though I also own two other phones with nominally higher spec. I love the 3D!

Here are some sample images in stereo cross-eyed format. Click through to see them in full size. Also below is a link to a video I shot on the LG Optimus 3D.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

3D - Orewa Beach Spring Day

Shot this yesterday (2011 09 10 - Saturday) on the beach at Orewa, north of Auckland.

Click through to YouTube to see it in 2D or to select another 3D viewing format.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Stunning Spring Day!

3D pics shot a few minutes ago with my LG Optimus 3D phone / camera. Went outside with my jacket on and it was one of those days you realise you don't need it.

Update: when I uploaded these from my phone using the Blogger app, they aren't the full-size and you can't click on them to get the full size. Sorry about that! I've uploaded them again via Chrome.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

3D Bus Ride

I made this video last week. I shot it with a Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 digital camera. For editing, I used Magix Movie Edit Pro 17 Plus. It's cheap, stable and has loads of features and functions for making great 3D video out of the bits and pieces you capture with your camera.

Click through to YouTube if you want / need to see this 3D video in other 3D formats.

3D Content Sharing Sites

I've found several sites that make sharing 3D images and videos easier.
I use (listed in order of preference):
  • stills can be viewed easily and in good sizes including fullscreen.
  • many 3D viewing formats supported. Over a dozen.
  • when viewing in red/cyan anaglyph you are able to adjust the parallax as you view to optimise the perceptions of 3D
  • handles video, too, and also allows parallax adjustment
  • free membership
  • No folders. Tags are the only way to group pics or videos.
  • video player has to be refreshed to restart video. Videos can only be played through and can't be arbitrarily started or entered at any point.
  • stills only
  • reasonable viewing size
  • multiple viewing modes supported
  • free membership
  • hard to find anything.
  • no tags or folders
  • larger viewing sizes are full resolution and usually larger than your monitor.
  • default viewing format is "Wriggle" which is intensely annoying
  • As of 2011-09-13, Phil Dinghra says he may have to shut the site down if he can't raise more money to keep it going.
  • stills only
  • multiple viewing methods supported
  • supports folders
  • can toggle between image sizes
  • can order hard-copy lenticular prints (US$35 each)
  • free membership
  • Images you upload are highly compressed and image quality is poor at the two larger viewing sizes. (not in order of preference - it's in a class by itself)
  • 3D video only - not stills
  • supports a number of viewing formats
  • free membership
  • annoying and often incorrect or inappropriate implementation of copyright restrictions
  • disputes process slow and largely ineffective (NVidia)
  • free to join
  • supports video and photos
  • Photos viewable as red/cyan anaglyph, but looks like you can only see 3D video if you have NVidia 3D gear. Not much use if you don't.

Inaugural Post

I've been into 3D images since I was a kid at school looking at black and white stereo images in geography class. Now 3D-capable devices are widely available in the consumer arena and I've jumped in with both boots as have many others. 

On this blog, I want to share information, resources and some images and videos, too. 

On with it then.