Create a 3-D Anaglyph with Zoner Photo Studio
Updated: Aug 8
Did you ever wonder how those 3-D images got created? You probably thought that the process was complicated or expensive. It’s a lot easier than you think, and can be a lot of fun.
It’s possible to make a 3-D anaglyph using Photoshop and Gimp, but I find it easier to do it in Zoner Photo Studio.
What equipment you need
A wide-angle lens on your camera is preferred.
Either red-blue glasses or red-green glasses.
Optional: a sliding platform mounted onto tripod.
Many cinematographers that make videos have “dolly” tracks, which would be ideal.
How to make the photos
For a dramatic effect, you want a wide-angle lens that can emphasize perspective. This isn’t mandatory, but I think you’ll prefer the end result.
Choose a subject that won’t move. Avoid windy days for landscapes, and avoid moving water (unless you make super-long exposures that blur the water completely).
Take the pair of shots with a pure shift between them of at least 2.5 inches (the distance between your eyes). Camera rotation will generally spoil the final shot.
If you’re really far from your subject, try a large shift of several feet. Take a few shots at different distances, so you have choices later.
Use manual exposure, so that the exposure doesn’t change between shots.
How to create the anaglyph in Zoner Photo Studio
Select the following menu item:
Manager | Create | 3D Images…
Select your pair of shots (keep left side first).
“Find points automatically” checked.
Choose “Half-color” or else “Black-and-white”. There are also “Color” and “Optimized” choices, but I don’t like the effect as well.
The image type will be “Anaglyph” versus “MPO/PNS”.
Put on your glasses (red on the left) to preview the result!
Save final anaglyph in jpeg format.
The shot above was created using a pair of shots that were shifted by 3 inches. I used the Sigma 14-24 f/2.8 Art at 21mm, 1/125 at f/11, ISO 100 on a D610. The camera was about 4 feet from the subject.
Shoot in manual exposure mode to keep a consistent exposure. Stop down your lens, because you want everything in focus.
Some fancy red-green glasses
Both red-blue and red-green glasses will work with these anaglyphs, but I like the colors better with the red-green glasses.
An improvised platform to slide my camera
Keep your left-hand photo first.
Preview the effect of the anaglyph type
When you’re using the dialog to select the anaglyph type, put on your red-blue or red-green glasses. You can decide which effect you like best before creating the final photograph.
I prefer the black-and-white anaglyphs, because the color versions always have a bit of a strange color mix.
“Optimized Color” anaglyph
This 3-D effect can be achieved in many image editors, including Photoshop. The principal behind the technique is to rid the red channel from one image and rid both the blue and green channels from the other image. The image pair is then combined into one photo.
A NASA anaglyph of Pluto
NASA has always been a big fan of anaglyphs. Most of their image pairs are taken with a very large image separation distance, since they’re usually many miles from their subject.
Anaglyphs are obviously a very specialized kind of photography. It can turn otherwise bland subjects into amazing photos. I think that you should try to keep it in mind during your travels. Given how easy it is to make an anaglyph, it’s a trivial amount of extra effort to take a few image pairs for times when you think a scene might be great to save in 3 dimensions.