Thorpe Digital Stereoview Standard

Version Number & Date


Stereoview production occurs in two conceptual steps; mechanically producing the stereoview itself and restoring and/or retouching the view for the best image. I generally run the two processes more or less at the same time.

Major Steps for Producing Your Stereoviews:

Most of my work producing digital stereoviews is done in Adobe PhotoShop. Other programs work just as well and have similar features. My descriptions will use terminology and procedures for PhotoShop. You may have to look around in your program to find what I'm describing.

Initial Organization

An organized work environment can make this entire process much easier. I suggest you create a folder inside your "My Documents" folder and call it Digital Stereoviews. Inside that, you create 3 more folders: Originals, PSDs, and Finals. Your captured images go in the Originals folder. Your "Works In Progress" or Photoshop files go in PSDs. Your final images go in Finals. It is best to develop a plan on how you are going to name your images so you can easily find them later. I like to use something like this: Iowa Cedar Rapids - Downtown from the Roof of Courthouse 2001.tif   This is just a suggestion, you will be able to come up with the best way that works for you.

Capturing Images

You need to have digital images for this process. They can be obtained a number of ways; from a photodisc, from a print or slide scanner or from a digital camera. You may find it convenient to have a different file for left and right images to begin with. If possible, the scans should be at a higher resolution than the final product. I suggest scanning at 600ppi. That way, your digital photolab can give you the best possible product. As soon as your images are scanned in, save them in your "Originals" folder with a name that follows your organizational standards. 

You should enter as much "File Info" as you can:

These are only suggestions, of course. What you say and where you store it is up to you, but it is easy to forget this information once you are done working on the stereoview If you enter it when you acquire the images, it will be a part of all subsequent files that are derived from the original.

When you start to work on your images. Open the file of one of your originals and save it immediately to the Finals folder. You will probably want to save it as a JPG file since most photo processors require your images to be sent to them in JPG format. It is best to use the same name as your original file name. The different extension will keep the two from overwriting each other. NEVER work on your original file.

Correcting Rotational Error

There is a likelihood that your left and right images will have some rotational error. Just the act of scanning prints allows some error to be introduced. Even scanning mounted classic stereoviews may result in some rotation. Granted, both views should be off by the same degree of rotation though. Even old views were not always mounted perfectly and may have to be rotated to match each other. Images taken with a digital camera will probably be taken with a slide bar or with the "cha-cha" method. Cha-chas are particularly prone to rotational error. It is better to correct them at this stage.

In PhotoShop it is easiest to rotate the left and right images when they are in there own windows. If you have two separate images to begin with, so much the better. If you start with single image such as an old stereoview or two photoprints scanned together you need to separate them momentarily.

Now you should have two separate images. 

Correcting rotational error is easiest when you have either a strong horizontal or vertical element. Examples are the horizon (duh!) or a vertical architectural element such as the edge of a building, a doorway or a line of windows. If correcting vertically make sure the element you are using is in the center of the image because photographers oftentimes point their cameras either up or down. This introduces keystoning. If you use one of the outer edges to correct to vertical, the other outside edge may be rotated even worse than to begin with.

Photoshop has a "measure" tool. This is useful for many purposes but it is indispensable  for correcting rotational error. Let's assume you are using the horizon as your point of reference.

In the first image:

If no strong horizontal or vertical image is present, look at the first image and make a value judgment about whether it is square with the world. If it needs rotational correction, proceed as follows:

Combining the Images

To reunite your images:

 Cropping the Top and Bottom of Images

The purpose of cropping the top, bottom, and sides of your views is to eliminate the area of your images that do not contribute to the stereo effect in a positive way. Both your images should now be lined up correctly with respect to rotation. To determine the maximum usable vertical area:

Cropping the Sides of Images

At this point you have cleaned up your images so you have the maximum usable area available. I like to move the bottom image back up so the pair can be freeviewed, but it is not necessary. 

Save the image.

Usually this is where I do my restoration and retouching, but it is not necessary. This aspect of creating digital stereoviews will be dealt with in the next major section, Major Steps for Restoring and Retouching Your Stereoviews.

Opening and Sizing the Template

You have your images prepared. Now you have to fit them in the template. On the Support Files page I have provided several templates for your use; rectangular, rectangular with rounded corners, classic, and classic with rounded bottom corner. The classic template has the arched top that is featured in many old stereoviews. I also have a template for 6x13 views

I suggest that when you download them, you save two copies in different folders because sure as anything you will do a bunch of work on an image then save it under the template name. 

As soon as you start the next step, open one of the templates and immediately save it in the PSDs folder with the same name as the original file. It will have the extension PSD. Do not flatten this image ever. You will be able to re-use if you want to change something in the future.

At this point you face a dilemma. The images you just prepared will almost certainly NOT have the same aspect ratio as the openings in the template. You have to decide if it is OK to crop your image or if you want to modify the opening of the template to match the aspect ratio of you image. I follow this rule of thumb: If the entire width or height of the main object in the image is close to the edges and it is important to see all of it, I will modify the template. This has to be done by making the openings narrower or shorter. Even though this conceptually happens at this point, I usually wait till after the images have been inserted to modify the template.

Inserting the Left and Right Images in the Template

Any of the standard templates have three layers. Working up from the bottom they are: Background, Mask, and Title of Stereoview. The background is just a black rectangle that is a contrasting color to the white mask. Its purpose is to let you see the opening of the mask. The Mask layer is the actual shape of the openings for the view. The Title of Stereoview layer is some pre-applied type that helps when it comes to adding the title.

To insert the left and right images in the template:

Transferring the "File Info"

Since the template is the basis of this file, it has no File Info of its own. The file info in the image file is not transferred automatically. To transfer it:

Editting the Title and Notes of Your Stereoview

When you resized your template, the type in the title and notes lines enlarged automatically. They are sized so the title is 12 pt type and the notes are 8 pt in the final print. Type styles and sizes can be changed pretty easily but may be unpredictably sized in the final print if you don't stick to 8 and 12 pt. To change the "dummy" type:

Final Polishing

There are a lot of other things you can do to your cards. For instance, if you were copying an old stereocard you could "sample" the background of your original view and "pour" that color into the mask so it looks more like the original. You could convert the mode of the card to "duotone" and apply a sepiatone look to your monochrome images. You could apply a texture to the mask. Or you could color tint an old view. These finishing touches are up to you.

Be sure to save your image. Then do a "Save As" of the file in the Finals folder. Convert it to a JPG file while you do it and overwrite the one that is currently in there.

Major Steps for Restoring and Retouching Your Stereoviews:

This section is not finished yet.