Pendon in 3D

Pendon in 3D

Over New Year we have an exhibition of 3D photographs of the Vale Scene. These photos reveal a lot of detail that many visitors won't have noticed. In particular they show the extraordinary craftsmanship of Pendon's modellers.

The photographs are on display over the whole New Year opening period - 30 and 31 December, 1 and 2 January.

We would like to thank Paul Ellis for the considerable effort and innovation required by this project.

Taking the photos

Taking a stereo photograph of a real-life scene is relatively simple: you take two photographs 60-75mm apart - this being the normal range of separation of the human eyes. However, taking a stereo photograph of a 1:76 scale model scene is rather more complicated.

Taking a photograph of a scale model that looks “real” means placing a camera in the scene as if it was being held by a miniature person with an eye separation of 1mm (i.e. at 1/76th scale). Since this isn’t feasible, we used a digital camera mounted on a rail and tripod outside the perimeter of the diorama so that the camera could be moved sideways by a known distance. As the camera is further away than the model person would be you compensate by increasing the baseline, typically to between 10 and 35 mm, always making sure that the resulting image is easy for the viewer’s brain to make into a 3D image.

At close distances the depth of focus of the photo can be very small. Whereas for a normal photograph it might be acceptable for the subject to be in sharp focus and the background to be out of focus for most stereographs this is not the case. The solution is to take a large number of photographs while varying the point of sharp focus. Typically, ten to twenty photographs at each baseline location are needed to cover the scene depth. Each set of images is then merged using software to create a single image that is sharp throughout the depth of the scene.

In practice, the camera is positioned in four or five different locations to cover baseline variables, and we may need to take up to 100 photographs to produce a final stereo pair! This makes production of the stereographs a time-consuming business.

The end results

The display prints are anaglyph stereographs that are viewed using coloured glasses, in this case red and cyan, with the red filter over the left eye. The image is processed and printed such that the left eye will only see the left image and the right eye will only see the right image, thus helping the brain to fuse the images into a single stereoscopic image. We hope you like the results!

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