StereoPhoto Maker (SPM) is a program for editing and viewing stereo images and can be downloaded for free from this website. It runs easily on Windows operating systems and can be used on most Macs* through a WineBottler app and the latest Windows version of SPM.
*Please note that Apple’s latest OS, Catalina, does not support 32 bit apps and therefore the old version SPM will stop working if you update the OS – the WineBottler developer was looking in to this so please see their website blog for details. Making stereoviews is possible in Photoshop, it’s not as easy as with SPM, but here’s a tutorial in case anyone who can’t use SPM needs it. There is also a new WineBottler64 app and a 64-bit SPM app but the WineBottler64 only allows the basic function of SPM. If you’d like to make stereoviews with your smartphones you can also find tutorials on this blog for Android and iPhones.
Please note images in this tutorial can be enlarged by clicking on them and viewing in Flickr so you don’t need to hold the screen REALLY close to your face to see them. Please also note this tutorial uses a pair of anaglyph glasses which can be found easily on Amazon or Ebay.
OPENING SAVED IMAGES
For beginning this tutorial I will be using images taken with my Fujifilm W3 camera which takes MPO files (a stereoscopic image that consists of two 2-D JPG images), however the SPM program also allows you to import images taken with any camera, including your smartphone, and most image file formats so you can use scans of photographs including Victorian stereoviews, scans of film, screenshots, etc. I’ll be explaining how to edit a single stereoview at a time, however SPM has the ability to edit batches of images.
Once you have SPM downloaded click on the app logo and it will open to a blank screen. To open a file which consists of both the left and right views, click on the top left menu File and Open Stereo Image.
The file I’m using, as I mentioned before, is an MPO file taken with a Fujifilm W3 camera so opening it will display both the left and right images, this will also work with scanned and previously saved stereoviews which have a left and right image in the same file.
If you wanted to open separate JPG files, such as ones taken sequentially with a camera/ smartphone, you can also open the left and right images individually. Click on the File Menu, then Open Left/Right Images…
As the files I’m using were taken sequentially they’re conveniently found one after the other, however it’s a good idea to keep your files organised and name them accordingly (such as left and right) so you can find them easily. Having said that my PC is about as organised as my office so your life won’t depend on it. You open the left image first and then, unsurprisingly, you open the right image.
This will give you your stereoview which can now be edited.
ALIGNING YOUR IMAGES – AUTOMATICALLY
I use StereoPhotoMaker to help prepare stereoviews for projection and I must mention that it is very important to ensure that the left eye image is on the left and the right eye image is on the right (the parallel-view format) so it projects correctly. This is also important to keep in mind when you want to align the stereoviews because my explanation for the ‘Easy Adjustment’ tool is based on working with a parallel-view image. If you prefer to view your images in the cross-eyed/pseudoscopic format (right eye image on the left, left eye image on the right) you can work on the images following this tutorial in the parallel-view format then change to cross-view when the alignment is complete.
If you’re unsure if your image is in the parallel view format (the left eye image on the left side and right eye image on the right eye) or pseudoscopic format (right eye image on the left side and left eye image on the right side) you can check this with the Adjust menu. Click on the Adjust menu and choose the Easy Adjustment tab. This will show an anaglyph of the images and it’s import you are wearing your anaglyph glasses the correct way round – the red lens must be on the left eye and the cyan/blue lens must be on the right eye. Sometimes people find it difficult to tell the difference between parallel and pseudo stereoviews so I found an easy thing to look for it to find the closest part of the image to you, the viewer (e.g. in the image below it would be the tree in the bottom left foreground). Wearing your glasses correctly, the part closest to you in the image must be in the foreground and in front of the other parts of the image which are in the background- if you have any doubt you can cancel out of the Easy Adjustment anaglyph, click on View, then Swap Left/Right and then go back to the Easy Adjustment menu to check again.
The first editing I do to the images is to align them, especially with sequential photos because I’ve usually moved slightly up or down between them. The alignment can be found in the Adjust menu and then Auto Alignment.
You will get a report back of the Auto Alignment values and one of the most interesting values (if you’re a geek) is the ‘disparity of the infinity points’. This value is the depth separation and the second number should ideally be 30 or more for comfortable viewing, especially when projecting, otherwise the depth in your stereoview may be too much and make viewers feel a bit ooky (technical term).
After my initial auto-alignment I then crop the images. If you need to remove something from the foreground, some unwanted overlapping of camera film frames, old stereoview mount, want to use a specific ratio for a specific reason, e.g. for certain projections or stereocards, want to cut out people or things which have moved near the edge, avoid window violations from too-near objects, etc., then cropping can be your friend. You’ll find the option for cropping in the Edit menu, then Crop, then Free Cropping for choosing your own size but there are also options to choose defined sizes.
This will make a set of rulers appear over both images and you move the cursor to find your first top left point of cropping. Be careful to look at both the left and right images to see how the crop will affect each one as something cropped out of the left image may still be slightly visible in the right and could be distracting.
When you’ve chosen the left point hold down the left mouse button and drag the rulers to the bottom right point where you want to crop but again be aware of what’s happening in both images.
When you’re happy you’ve got the crop correctly aligned click the left mouse button again and both images will be cropped.
ALIGNING IMAGES – MANUALLY
I would now use a manual alignment, especially if it was automatically aligned before to anything that may now have been cropped out of the image. In the Adjust menu choose Easy Adjustment.
This will display the Easy Adjustment window and it’s time to wear your groovy red and cyan glasses (remember – the red lens on the left eye and the cyan lens on the right eye).
I recommend that before you do any editing you make the window as large as possible for more accurate alignment and judgement of depth by dragging down the right-hand corner of the Easy Adjustment window.
Then you can use the sliders to move the right image up or down and left or right. There are many options in this screen but for now we’re sticking to the basics. As we’re working on the parallel-view image, it is the right image which the sliders are affecting. A very nice way of remembering how to manually adjust the stereoview is using the 3 Rs – moving the right image to the right will make everything in the fused image recede. To try and make sure the image is in the ‘Stereo window’ I try and find the closest part of the image to the viewer and make sure the two images are perfectly aligned on that spot – it may be a branch of a tree, or the bottom of the foreground, etc. It doesn’t do any harm to move the slider until you feel the images are aligned. For a tutorial on the stereo window please click here.
MAKING IMAGES COMFORTABLE TO VIEW
If you really want to get into projecting good quality 3-D images like a true geek, you also have to consider the background of the images. A nice way to judge whether an image will be comfortable to view when projected is to use the grid in the Easy Adjustment tool window by clicking on the show grid box and setting the spacing of the squares to 30 (1/30th) (found on the upper left of the window).
The background of the images shouldn’t be more than a square apart (1/30th) – if it is more than this then the disparity between the images is too great and the final stereoview will not be comfortable to view in 3-D when projected or enlarged.
If you decide to slide the backgrounds closer together, keep in mind that you’re also affecting the foreground so the image will probably come out of the window too much, doh!
Usually when I’m taking sequential stereoviews and I get over-excited about a sleeping cat or had one too many, exaggerating the distance between the left and right shots, it means I can’t really use the stereoview for projection. I’ll stick it on Instagram (because smaller screens are more forgiving) and pretend it wasn’t a failure.
Some Victorian stereoviews also have too much disparity between the left and right image backgrounds and you have to make a judgement of whether it’s too important not to project. If it’s necessary then maybe don’t leave it on the screen for very long so the audience don’t go running for the hills.
Once you’re happy with your alignment and your image is in the ‘stereo window’ you can press OK. I check my parallel stereo images on the computer screen with a stereoscope designed specifically for this purpose – see my blog post ‘How to View Stereoscopic 3-D Images: Basic Tutorial‘.
SAVING YOUR STEREO-IMAGES
Now you can save your stereoview and you have plenty of options to choose from. In the file menu you can save a separate left and right image, a single stereoview JPG, an MPO file, a wigglegram or gif, etc.
MAKING A STEREOCARD
You can also make a stereocard if you’d like to print it out with a frame to view in a stereoscope. In the file menu again go to Print Stereo Card.
And in this menu you can change the format of the frame – such as the classic stereo card or a Holmes card, these formats usually depend on the format of the images themselves. You can also add arches, text, change the colour of the mount, etc.
CHANGING THE STEREO-FORMAT
You can also change the format of the stereoview, such as into an anaglyph, by going to the Stereo menu, then choosing ColourAnaglyph and whichever type of anaglyph takes your fancy. (Tip: Dubois is usually the best option to display anaglyphs from colour images, there is a slight alteration in the colours however this is necessary to still display it as an anaglyph, otherwise your colour image may appear black and white).
And this stereo can be saved in the anaglyph format. (You can also use the Stereo menu to convert the stereoview into a pseudoscopic/cross-view image if this is your preferred viewing method).
There are other programs which allow you to edit stereoviews and some people just crop the images themselves using basic editing software. I personally find SPM to be an incredibly powerful and useful tool for any level of stereo photographer and we’re lucky that Masuji Suto, the developer, has made it free to use. There are also many more ways to edit your stereophotos with SPM and now there’s also a StereoPhoto Maker Pro App with even more functions (which I use on my Windows laptop). I recommend visiting the developer’s website which includes tutorials for all levels.
I hope you have fun trying this program, I look forward to seeing your results!
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