No, the picture above isn’t botched, and your eyesight is just fine. This photo is an anaglyph—an image that simulates a 3D effect when viewed through appropriate filters, like the typical red/cyan paper glasses.
Grab a pair of 3D spectacles and have a look. If you have kids around the house, you probably have some of these lying around somewhere. If not, no worries, they’re pretty easy to find. Cool, isn’t it? What’s even better is that this effect is actually quite simple to do.
Go out and take a picture of something while looking through the viewfinder with your right eye. Then without changing any settings, take a second shot of the exact same scene while looking through the viewfinder with your left eye. The important thing is to keep your head still between the shots—move only the camera. Make sure to choose a still subject that is at least a few feet away. Next, open the two resulting images on your computer. They should be vertically aligned. Replace the red channel of the right image with the red channel of the left one. You can then discard the left image. Now, put on your 3D glasses and nudge the red channel left or right until it looks best. Crop the image to remove the colour fringes on the sides. Voilà! Have fun experimenting!
Where to find 3D glasses
The first place to look is in children’s DVDs. Many have 3D features and include a few pairs of paper glasses. If you don’t have those on hand, you can head to your favourite video rental store. Often they sell spare glasses behind the counter in case you don’t want to wear the same pair as the 2000 people who rented Shrek 3D before you. For the DIY-inclined, you could even cut out a pair of goggles from a transparent soda bottle and colour the left side with a red marker and the right one with a blue marker (but don’t reverse sides).
If you are a subscriber and would like to read about the history of stereo photography, visit Photo Life’s digital library and look for the August/September 2011 issue.