Message - Re: ArchWeek - Stereo Photography for Architecture

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Posted by  Richard C. Anderson on June 05, 2003 at 02:37:35:

In Reply to:  ArchWeek - Stereo Photography for Architecture posted by Kevin Matthews on June 04, 2003 at 21:47:56:

I was delighted to discover this article. I'm a fairly long time stereo devotee, using it for archaeological study which, of course, includes architecture. It's an extremely powerful tool for revealing three-dimensional form that is "incomprehensible" in a 2D medium. It's great for anything that is either sculptural or spatial and it's at its best in a non-perspectival world. We think we understand 2D images (and mostly do, I suppose) but how our brain "processes" binocular stereo information is very revealing. If we "understand" an image, like an orthogonal building, if the left and right images are swapped, the "stereo" view still seems OK, but something is wrong. It doesn't "jump out at you" in 3D but we still understand it. If a stereo subject is "incomprehensible" like an eroding stone surface, when the left and right are swapped, the hollows will become bumps. I first noticed this when photographing Roman rock-cut columnar grave monuments in Cyprus. If the pair was put in the viewer incorrectly, eroded holes in the rock "jumped out" like bracket fungi! The "comprehensible" attached half-column monument was still, more or less, okay.

We understand form first through motion, second, because we just understand it, and third, through binocular stereo. I suppose it's really the first of these that has displaced the third. Nevertheless, when I show people some nice stereo image, the most common response is "Wow!".

I use full-frame 35mm for my work. For static subjects it's just fine to take two slides, one after the other, with any type of camera. You can vary the "stereo base", the distance between the photos, according to the subject. Giant landscapes can "jump" into stereo...try taking two shots out of an airplane window. Mediterranean roofscapes are fascinating...though there is a danger of the real world looking like an extremely detailed architectural model. (You become a giant with eyes several meters apart.)

It's madness that this powerful tool is so neglected these days. Bravo for this book!

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