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.
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.
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.
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:
Select File|File Info. Put as much information as you can in the "Caption" section. This would include the title of the stereoview, the photographer, a publishing company, the date of the image, any notes someone has scribbled on the back, or any comments you want to make. The possibilities are limitless. Write your name, and contact information (email address, phone, whatever) in the Caption Writer" section. If the source images come from a collection, which can often be the case if you are copying classic stereoviews, identify it in the "Special Instructions" section so the originals can be located later.
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.
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.
Draw an edit box around one of the images.
"Cut" the image, Edit|Cut [Control+X].
Create a new window by hitting File|New. This will open a new window, conveniently sized to fit the image you just cut. "Paste" your image into the new window, Edit|Paste [Control+V].
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:
Select the Measure tool [ keyboard shortcut = I, Shift+I toggles through all the tools in that selection ]. It's a subtool of the Eyedropper button in the lower righthand corner of the toolbox [hold the left mouse button down over the eyedropper, a flyout menu appears, select the one that looks like a ruler].
Click an identifiable feature on the horizon at the left side of the image, a grove of trees for instance. The features you pick should appear in both the left and right images. Drag a line to a second feature at the right side of the image. You should now have a line with plusses at the ends. + ---------------------------------- +.
Zoom in on the left plus sign by drawing a small rubber band box around it [Control+Spacebar] and make sure the plus sign is perfectly aligned with the feature as you intended. Carefully observe which pixels the line is on. Scroll to the right and do the same thing with the right plus. The line is probably not perfectly horizontal. Zoom out to see the entire image again [Control+0 (zero)].
To make it horizontal, select Image|Rotate|Arbitrary. A dialog box that says "Rotate Canvas" appears with a value in the "Angle" window. Click OK and the picture will be rotated so that the line you drew will be horizontal.
Repeat this process with the other 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:
Select the entire frame, Edit|Select All [Control+A].
To reunite your images:
Click in the image that you "cut" previously.
Select the entire image, Edit|Select All [Control+A].
Do another "Cut", Edit|Cut [Control+X].
Click in the window of your original image.
"Paste" your image into the window, Edit|Paste [Control+V].
Photoshop will put the "paste" in the center of the window. Select the "Move" tool, [ keyboard shortcut = V]. Drag the pasted image to the approximate place where it started. You may have to increase the canvas size a little if the rotation was too great.
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:
Find an easily identifiable feature that is in both images. I like a small light or dark spot.
Drag a guideline down from the top ruler and make it run through the feature you just selected on the left image.
Zoom in on the feature by drawing a small rubber band box around it [Control+Spacebar] and make sure the guideline is perfectly aligned with the feature as you intended. Carefully observe which pixels the line is on. Zoom out to see the entire image again [Control+0 (zero)].
Zoom in on the same feature in the other view. Select the Move tool and "nudge" the right image up or down [Up or Down Arrow] till the feature is aligned as it was in the first image. Zoom out again. Your images should now be perfectly aligned vertically.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool [ keyboard shortcut = M] and draw a rubberband box so that the the top of the box is a few pixels below the lowest point of the tops of both images and the bottom of the box is a few pixels above the highest point of the bottoms of both images. The left and right sides of the box should be outside or even with the images. Do not crop the sides yet.
"Crop" the images, Image|Crop.
Zoom out so the window of the images is less that half the height of the work area on your screen [Control+Alt+Minus (you may have to do this several times till the window is small enough)]. Drag your window to the top of the work area.
Select the entire image, Edit|Select All [Control+A].
Open the Info toolbox, Window|Show Info. This is not the same as the "File Info" you entered previously. In the lower, right-hand section of the Info window will be the entries for width (W) and height (H). Take note of the height.
Increase the canvas size to a little more than double the height of your images. Select Image|Canvas Size. Whatever the height that was indicated in the Info toolbox was, double it and add a little more for safety's sake. This measurement is not critical, you are just giving yourself some room to work. Enter the number in the in the "Height" box of the Canvas Size window and click the upper, middle button in the "Anchor" area. This will double the size of your image window and put the image at the top of the box. Hit "OK" to exit.
If you can freeview, look at your stereoview and see if you can determine which point on the bottom edge is closest to you. If you can do it with a lorgnette, that's ok too. Try to find something along the bottom edge where it is closest to you and that is identifiable in both images. Remember that feature.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool [ keyboard shortcut = M] and draw a rubberband box around the right image.
Select the "Move" tool, [ keyboard shortcut = V]. Drag the right image underneath the left image trying to align the identifiable features from a few steps back as closely as possible.
Drag a guideline from the left ruler and run it through the feature in the top view. Zoom in and adjust the guideline like you did when you cropped the top and bottom of the images.
Go to the same feature in the bottom image and nudge it left or right till the feature is aligned with the guideline.
Zoom out [Control+0 (zero)], select the Rectangular Marquee Tool [ keyboard shortcut = M] and draw a rubberband box around only those parts of the images that are in both the top and bottom views like you did when you cropped the top and bottoms of the images.
"Crop" the images, Image|Crop.
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.
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.
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:
Make sure your editted image and the template of your choice are each open.
Select the template window. You have remembered to save it with the proper file name in the PSD folder, right?
Open the Layers toolbox, Window|Show Layers. This will help you keep track of where you are, which is important in the next few steps.
Select the Background layer by clicking on it in the Layers toolbox.
Switch to the image window.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool [ keyboard shortcut = M] and draw a rubberband box in the left image that is a little less than the height of the image. This will be the final vertical cropping of your image. The idea is to leave a little head and foot room so you can make minor alignment adjustments if you need to. The width of the rubberband box is unimportant since in this example we are going to crop the left and right sides. If you want a horizontal emphasis you would do it left and right instead of up and down.
Once the rectangle is drawn, Make sure the Info toolbox is open, Window|Show Info. Look at the height of the rectangle and remember how tall it is.
Open the pixel calculator spreadsheet that is available on the Support Files page.
Enter the height of the rectangle in the yellow box next to Height of single image in the Directions section. Hit enter to calculate. This will give you a Pixel width in the orange Overall width of stereoview window box.
Switch back to the Template window.
Select Image Size, Image|Image Size. Type in the resolution that you scanned your image at, 600ppi if you followed my advice. If you don't remember what it is or you don't otherwise know, switch back to the image window and check its resolution, then come back and enter it in the Image Size dialog box of the template window. Look at the pixel calculator spreadsheet again and get the value for Overall width of stereoview. Enter that value in the "Width" box of the Pixel Dimensions section of the Image Size dialog box. Hit "OK". This will make the scale of your template match your image.
Once you have done this you may have to resize the template window till it is a workable size. To do this, hit [Control+Alt+Minus] as many times as it takes to get the window a workable size. If you make it too small, hit [Control+Alt+Plus] till it's the right size.
Arrange both the image and template windows so you can switch between them easily.
Click in the image window to make it active.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool [ keyboard shortcut = M] and draw a rubberband box around the left image. Copy it, Edit|Copy [Control+C].
Click in the template window to make it active. Make sure the active layer is Background.
Paste the image, Edit|Paste [Control+V]. It should appear over the black background but behind the mask.
Select the "Move" tool, [ keyboard shortcut = V]. Drag the left image behind the window opening till it is nicely framed by the edges of the window. If a little of the image sticks into the right window, don't worry about that for now.
Switch back to the image window.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool [ keyboard shortcut = M] and draw a rubberband box around the right image. Copy it, Edit|Copy [Control+C].
Click in the template window to make it active. Since you pasted something (the left image) it has automatically become the active layer. Paste the image, Edit|Paste [Control+V]. It should appear over the left image but behind the mask in the center. Select the "Move" tool, [keyboard shortcut = V]. Drag the right image behind the window opening till it is nicely framed by the edges of the window and is roughly aligned in the right window the same as the left image.
If any of the right image sticks into the right left window, select the layer with the right image, draw an edit box around the overlap with the Marquee tool and hit Delete. The box should extend from the middle of the septum to the extent of the overlap and from below the window opening to above it.
Pull a guideline down from the ruler and use the same process you used when you aligned the two images up and down in the "Cropping the Top and Bottom of Images" section above.
Click on the right image in the Layers toolbox to make it active.
Reduce the size of the template so it is small enough that you can freeview the images or look at them with a lorgnette.
With your fingers on the left and right arrow keys, freeview the image. Nudge the right view left or right to make the stereo window look correct. You want to have anything appearing to touch the edge of the window be behind it. If you can't adjust it enough without making some of the edge show through, move it back to the edge and click on the left layer and make your adjustments in the left view.
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:
Switch to the image window and show the file info, File|File Info. Copy the "Caption" section, switch back to the template window and paste it into the template Caption section. Do the same for any sections that you have entered information in, Caption Writer and Special Instructions, for instance.
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:
Highlight the type that says, "Title of Stereoview". Make sure that you do not include the space after it or the second line will jump up to the first at the end of your edit.
Type whatever you want for a title.
Repeat this on the second line. I have found that you can also put in a third line of type if you nudge all the type towards the top of the screen a little.
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.
This section is not finished yet.