Time-for-space stereo photography

Some years ago I was intrigued by the technique of producing photographs that rapidly alternate a pair of images, one for the left eye and one for the right to give a 3D effect:

Julius River, Tasmania

This is essentially a pair of Stereo Viewer pictures but without the need of a ‘View-Master’ viewer to give a sense of depth to the picture. Although I recall this had been tried with television back in the 70s or 80s (and been a massive flop) the inspiration for these came from Jim Gasperini’s page where he calls them “Time for Space Wiggle” stereo images.

I thought I would try some myself by taking a photo then moving an eye distance to the right for the second image. It works best if there is a foreground subject such as a tree or person and a background, rather than just a distant scene.

The two photos are then stitched together into an animated gif.

It’s not hard to make these time-for-space images for yourself. I used the wonderful open source “Swiss Army knife” of command line image processing, ImageMagick.

After installation (check it is in your path) type the following to combine the pair:

C:\path\to>magick convert -delay 1 -loop 0 lefteyephoto.jpg righteyephoto.jpg

To make it more convenient I placed the command into a DOS batch file stereo.bat as shown below. This also reduces the stereo image to a quarter of the original’s size.

@echo off
REM **** Generate 'time-for-space' stereo image from two photos taken about 100mm apart
REM **** Commandline arguments are Left-eye image followed by right-eye image (as JPEGs)
REM **** Uses the convert.exe command from the ImageMagick suite  http://www.imagemagick.org
REM **** Steve  15/09/2009
magick convert %1.jpg -resize 25%% temp_001.gif
magick convert %2.jpg -resize 25%% temp_002.gif
magick convert -delay 1 -loop 0 temp_*.gif animated_25percent.gif

Then just use it like
C:\path\to\photos>stereo lefteyephoto righteyephoto

and open the produced animated_25percent.gif image by dragging it into a browser tab.

Without a tripod and slide mechanism it can be difficult to get the pair to line up perfectly, but the results aren’t too bad, as shown here. A graphics editor could be used to introduce or remove rotation to level the image, and perhaps translate the images but I’ve found if you take a series of say 8 pictures moving an eye-distance each time, you may get a pair of consecutively good ones out of it.

I hope you enjoy them and if you do some of your own please drop me a comment below.

Here are some more from Tasmania and also near Wee Jasper, NSW

Ross, Tasmania

Julius River, Tasmania

Julius River, Tasmania

Julius River, Tasmania

Ross, Tasmania

Goodradigbee River, Wee Jasper NSW

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