The evening of Monday 4th March saw a large attendance for a fascinating presentation by Graeme Mitchell on 3D Photography. Graeme started with a 3D when he picked up some “bits and pieces” at an auction but it was a long time before he realised what all the items were for. He then gave a brief history of 3D photography – did you know it started in 1838? I certainly didn’t. The first portrait was in 1845 and it certainly had the 3D effect. 3D photography was used extensively to document the American Civil War and was wildly popular in Victorian times. Once again it was used by the RAF in WWII for reconnaissance and pilots said it made all the difference. After some time in the doldrums it is now being championed by Brian May – astrophysicist and member of Queen.
Graeme then issued all of us with glasses – the type you may have experienced many years ago made out of cardboard with one red lens and one green lens. It was certainly quite peculiar seeing the whole audience so equipped! Graeme then presented a slideshow of 3D images which had everyone amused, enthralled and staggered at the effects. He started with some images taken at the RAF memorial and it really felt that the binoculars in the sculpture were protruding right into the room. There were some amazing macro shots of insects which appeared quite threatening with pincers and probosces coming towards you. The range of subjects was very wide but all of them were static. You have to have special cameras to catch live action. Everyone was really surprised by the effects and there was a real buzz around the room. Graeme finished off the first half by taking two images right there and then and using software (Stereophotomaker) to combine them into one 3D image. I think everyone was astounded at how simple it was and the effect it created.
During the break everyone (still wearing the glasses!) had the opportunity view a selection of 3D prints Graeme had brought along. Again the effect was quite remarkable. In the second half he focused on the mechanics, taking shots of Steve Wood and then creating the 3D image. It took all of a coupe of minutes. He also showed the OWL 3D Viewer being championed by Brian May and how you could put a mobile phone in it and then watch 3D videos on YouTube. The effect was so good and the cost so low (£25) that many people said they would get one straight away. To bring everyone right up to date he used a free app on a smartphone (3DSteroid) to create a 3D image. I confess I downloaded it as he was talking and took a 3D image of the room and the image was created in seconds. I don’t think I was alone.
It was another super evening which introduced a branch of photography few have dabbled with. Probably we all believed we needed lots of special equipment and time to create anything but Graeme showed us that at virtually no cost (the cardboard glasses can be bought at 10 for £3 and plastic ones for £1-£2) and very little time investment anyone can produce a 3D image. The effectiveness Graeme demonstrated was a revelation. He received enthusiastic applause for what was an excellent evening. Thanks again Graeme.