How to take 3D stereo photos

The process is really very simple, and the basics can be explained in less than a minute, but to become good at taking and presenting 3D photos take a bit more time, and it’s something that really develops with practice. I hope you’ll take what you learn here and get out and get lots of practice taking 3D photos.

The typical and easiest single-camera 3D photography technique is commonly called the “cha-cha” technique, for reasons which will soon become obvious. Here’s the technique in a nutshell:

Taking the Photos
Always take photos in portrait orientation
Set the camera to full manual and choose the correct exposure and focus
Put your feet square on to the subject of your 3d photo
Put your weight onto your right foot, without lifting your left
Take the first photo
Put your weight onto your left foot without raising your right
Unless your subject is very close, you don’t need to turn your camera to keep it in the centre
Take the second photo
And you’re done! As simple as that. Simply by shifting your weight from one foot to the other, you move your viewpoint by several centimetres, sufficient to get a 3D effect. The “cha-cha” name refers to the side to side sway you do when taking the photo.


StereoPhoto Maker screenshotNow you’ve got two photos, but you need to make one. I use a fantastic piece of free software called StereoPhoto Maker. It’s not the prettiest software, but it does a fantastic job. It can be used in conjunction with a plugin called AutoPano, that can analise the two images and automatically correct for many of the problems that can come from shooting two separate images. This includes tilting and twisting, moving forward or back between shots, and the “keystone distortion” that occurs when you turn the camera to centre the subject for close 3D photos.

Download and install StereoPhoto Maker.
Download and install AutoPano and link it to StereoPhoto Maker as a plugin.
Step by step

Drag both photos onto the StereoPhoto Maker shortcut icon
Zoom out a bit with your mouse’s scroll wheel if you need to to make it easier to fuse the pair into 3D with the cross-eye technique
If the 3D effect seems reversed, click the swap button to swap the images correctly for a crossed eye view
Click on the auto align button to use autopano to correct for any distortions
Click on the Easy Adjustment button to fix the 3D images position relative to the 3D window (see below for more information)
I find adding a border helps, so if you like, in the menu go to View – Border Options
Check “Show Border” and adjust the border settings to your liking
Save the image by clicking in the menu File – Save Stereo Image
Enjoy your new 3d photo!
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