Social Consciousness

Social Consciousness

In early January 2008, I took this photo of the sculpture titled "Social Consciousness" by Jacob Epstein (1954). It's located at the back entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Many times I have seen this sculpture in shadow so the full impact of the piece did not strike me until I photographed it on a clear day in late afternoon approaching the "golden hour".

Recently I went back to the raw photo file and with Lightroom and Photoshop, did some post-processing work on it. To make the sculpture photo stronger and really see the piece with all its strength and emotion, I removed the background clutter. Photography is a subtractive art form.

For more information about the sculpture see

Not everyone likes this sculpture

Processing Android Code Commands NX500

I wrote some experimental Processing code as an Android app (for Samsung Galaxy S6 phone) to see if synchronized shutter release could be achieved using Telnet into twin Samsung NX500 cameras modified with the  NX-KS2 hack.

Unfortunately no, the system delays do not allow synchronization within 1/100 second. I'll have to stick with wired controllers for shutter release. There may be a way using Broadcast messages if I can write a daemon for the NX500 to trigger the shutter when it receives a message.

This code may be a helpful starting point for other purposes when accessing the camera with Telnet. You can get the code on Github at

### [2016/10/15 10:40:32] PROCESS @ TcpClient ### starting new TcpClient
### [2016/10/15 10:40:32] PROCESS @ TcpClient ### starting new TcpClient
2: [root@drime5 ~]#
1: [root@drime5 ~]#
2: [root@drime5 ~]# st app nx capture single
1: [root@drime5 ~]# st app nx capture single
2: [root@drime5 ~]#
1: [root@drime5 ~]#
1: [root@drime5 ~]# st app nx capture single
2: [root@drime5 ~]# st app nx capture single
1: [root@drime5 ~]#
2: [root@drime5 ~]#

3D Camera Rig With Twin Samsung NX500

Side view, 3D Camera Rig with Twin Samsung NX500

It's a 3D photographers lament that no major camera manufacturer sells a quality stereo 3D camera. Apparently the market for these cameras is not big enough to support development.  All the consumer's money for cameras is going into mobile phones, the consumers's computer choice of today.

If you want to take stereo photos, you have to build your own 3D camera. Manufacturers do not seem to even design cameras with the idea of pairing them for 3D imaging. With Virtual Reality becoming popular there may be more incentive to design for multiple cameras. We will see.

With my desire for better quality images from the camera, I decided to build a new rig. My latest 3D Twin Camera Rig uses the Samsung NX500 camera. Unfortunately Samsung discontinued its camera line, but due to this unfortunate decision, the price was more affordable (for a while) given the features the camera provides. But if this camera ever becomes more popular, due to its scarcity, I think the price may actually go up. Read below about camera mods that may affect this trend.

The NX500 is a smaller version of Samsung's top NX1 camera that uses the same APS-C sensor. It's an excellent camera that meets most of the guidelines I set for deciding which camera to buy to upgrade from my Olympus E-PM2 twin 3D rig. It's not a perfect 3D rig, but the photo quality of the NX500 is so much better than the Olympus E-PM2 camera that I am using now. I have to abandon the M4/3 mirrorless cameras for the better image quality of larger APS-C sensors available with the NX500. The only reason the NX500 is not ideal is that Samsung chose to put the shutter release port on the side where you would join the cameras in a Z-bar configuration to get the smallest possible inter-axial distance in landscape orientation. This camera design shortcoming makes it necessary to build special right angle USB plugs connected to shutter release cables to minimize the camera separation (a future project). Another possibility is to use WiFi remote shutter triggers, so wired cabling issues go away, but that is a future project.

After buying the cameras I discovered Samsung had open sourced the software. And there is an active group of enthusiasts - NXKS2, who have extended the features of the camera. For more information see the facebook page
and to download the latest mod use:

Now with the NX500 mods I can use a number of features not originally available, such as truly silent shutter, remote control, focus stacking, etc. Also I can use FTP (file transfer protocol) into the camera's FTP server using WiFi and my local network. The FTP is especially nice to download photos without taking the cameras off the 3D rig support, which is cumbersome with my rig support. And there is also Telnet protocol to experiment with the camera features with a terminal. There is more technical detail about the modifications (may not be up to date) at:

Wow! What a bonus to have all these unexpected camera features. This is a great camera system for hacking! What a delight for a photographer/developer like me. Thanks Guys!

My intent is to use the NX500 rig for studio projects with off camera strobe flashes (portrait orientation) and continue to use my E-PM2 rig for natural light events and touring (landscape orientation). With the NX500 kit lens, 16 mm - 50 mm zoom, the 35 mm equivalent is 24 to 75 mm, versus my E-PM2 14 mm fixed lens (28 mm equivalent). With the E-PM2 I always shoot raw and post process with Lightroom to get the best possible image. It's a necessity, especially to eliminate noise and best match the photo exposure and color of the cameras. With the NX500 it appears I do not need to use Lightroom as much although it can handle Samsung raw files.

With the NX500 cameras mounted in portrait mode, the inter-axial camera lens distance is 80 mm. This distance is fixed in the support I built. The support is made from two 3/4 inch wide sandwiched aluminum channels and a sanding handle. The camera shutter trigger uses a common diode OR circuit and the flash trigger was borrowed from the E-PM2 rig. It uses a 3 volt Arduino microcomputer to detect and sync the flash triggers into a PocketWizard wireless flash trigger. I'll probably be making refinements to the cabling, controllers, and building a landscape mode 3D printed camera support in the future. I think with a Z-bar configuration for a landscape orientation,  I may achieve an inter-axial lens distance of 95 mm.

The minimum inter-axial camera lens distance for my E-PM2 rig is 95 mm. This distance can be increased to 170 mm for hyper-stereo photos and has worked well for more distant subjects. But for studio projects the subject distance is usually closer and I use the portrait orientation often, that's the rationale for mounting the NX500 in portrait orientation. For comparison, note that the FujiFilm W3 3D camera has a fixed interaxial distance of 75 mm versus 80 mm for the NX500 rig.

I find the fastest usable camera synchronization shutter speed is 1/100 sec for the NX500 and 1/125 for the Olympus E-PM2. Any faster than these speeds will often cause one the cameras to miss the flash. To photograph subjects moving faster than 1/100 will capture, I resort to lower power portable strobes, 1/8 power, to get a short flash duration (.5 millisecond) and thus capture moving subjects in very low ambient light. However, there are full high power studio strobes with very short flash duration times, but I don't own these expensive strobes. I have shot 3D in a professional studio with these flash units and the results were super.

Photographer's view, 3D Camera Rig with Twin Samsung NX500

Front view, 3D Camera Rig with Twin Samsung NX500

Here are two example off camera flash stereo photos from NX500 JPG files aligned and cropped with Stereo Photo Maker (not resized). Both photos were underexposed and fixed with Image Viewer auto adjust

The first photo was shot at ISO 100, F11, 1/100, 16 mm.

The second photo was shot at ISO 100, F11, 1/125, 16 mm.

3D 4K Display Test Pattern

3D 4K Display Test Pattern

I'm attempting to modify my 3D/VR Stereo Photo Viewer app to work with 4K display phones, like the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. I needed a 3D 4K test pattern to confirm the app works. So I did a Web search for 4K display test images and found some at:


These were developed by Daniel Cardenas under a Creative Commons license with Open source attribution required:

I made the above test pattern as a 3D parallel image, PNG file type, for the 3D/VR viewer app. Click on the photo above to download or use this link

The same Creative Commons license applies to my image modification.

Candy Cane Ghost for Halloween

Screenshot Finger Drawing
My 101st blog post. Yea!
Here's a screenshot from an experimental paint Android app I am writing. I paint the candy image by dragging my finger across a Samsung Galaxy S6 screen,

Autostereogram 3D Art

Recently I wrote Processing/Java code to construct and experiment with wallpaper styled autostereograms, like the above photo. These are images that appear to be normal 2D, but when you converge your eyes beyond the photo your mind will interpret the image as 3D. You can do this by starting with your eyes close to the image, with everything blurred, and then slowly back off until the pattern begins to float above the background. You can see examples of autostereograms in popular Magic Eye books that present 3D visual puzzles.

In the first photo above, I experimented with creating a wallpaper pattern that alternates left and right eye cutouts of model Mary Kate from a recent photo shoot. By combining the left and right images together in the wallpaper format I am able to see half of the pattern images as a true floating 3D image and the others as 2D pattern images floating above the background. For a good viewing experience, try to view the photo on a 15 inch diagonal screen display. Viewing on a small 6 inch smartphone display does not produce the best effect.

With the above photo you view with the wall-eyed viewing technique. There is another viewing technique named cross-eye. Here are the same cutout photos in right-left order for cross-eyed viewing. Unfortunately I have not yet trained my eyes to view this kind of 3D formatted photo.

Here is the stereo photo in left-right order, so I can see it using a stereoscope and better yet with my 3D/VR Stereo Photo Viewer Android app.

Here are some other wallpaper autostereograms I made where the images float above the background:

All of the images above were constructed from photos I shot and then edited with Lightroom and Photoshop, aligned with Stereo Photo Maker, and finally formatted with the custom Processing code I wrote.

Selecting a Camera for a 3D Twin Camera Rig

UPDATED: 2016-10-11

What features should you look for when selecting a camera to make a 3D twin camera rig? 

I'm asking the question so I can have a checklist for upgrading my current 3D twin camera rig, pictured above, that is more than 3 1/2 years old. It uses two Olympus E-PM2 cameras. The checklist is based on my personal experiences with three home-made twin camera rigs I built and used so far. The other two rigs used Nikon D-80 (purchased 2007) and Canon PowerShot SD800  (purchased 2006, point and shoot) cameras. I bought the Olympus cameras in 2013. Usually I buy the second camera used to lower the cost.

Here are ten features I think you need in a camera to build a twin camera stereo 3D rig:
  1. Live view 
    1. It's too cumbersome to use a viewfinder to compose your shot when using twin cameras.
    2. Capture the "moment" faster because you can see both eye views at the same time when composing a shot.
  2. Touch screen focus point selection (without releasing the shutter)
    1.  Offset twin cameras will not focus on the same subject in your shot, so you need a way to quickly set the same subject focus point for both cameras.
    2. Touching the screen should not release the shutter, the camera menu should have the option to not take the photo when you touch the screen.
  3. Lens not in the center of the camera
    1. Look for lens mount close to one side of the camera
    2. This lens offset makes it possible to give you the smallest inter-axial separation possible for close subjects when one camera is upside down using a Z-bar mount.
  4. Small and lightweight camera
    1. You will carry the rig all day, therefore lighter is better.
    2.  Small cameras usually provide smaller inter-axial separation too.
  5. Interchangeable lenses
    1. You can use a prime lens and not worry if each camera built-in lens has the same zoom setting
    2. Change lens to suit scene and subject
    3. Wide angle lens provide more depth of field than telephoto lenses
  6. Remote focus and shutter trigger connection
    1. Wired
      1. Input remote trigger connector should be on side opposite where two cameras are joined together for the smallest possible inter-axial camera separation.
      2. Use a simple direct wire OR diode circuit to release the shutter without any delays, when the camera is already focused. Diodes isolate the shutter release circuits in each camera. See
      3. Note that the focus control line must also have a wire OR diode circuit.
    2. Bluetooth wireless shutter/focus release, if available, allowing you to use two selfie remote Bluetooth triggers wired together.
    3. Optical IR focus/shutter release remote control (Nikon)
    4. WiFi remote focus/shutter trigger control of multiple cameras.
  7. Flash shoe 
    1. Must be able to use off camera flash, no compromises here.
    2. Must be able to select 1st curtain flash trigger for use with an external circuit controller, that allows you to synchronize flash triggers from each camera and use an off camera flash.
  8. One camera may have to be mounted upside down using a Z-bar mount and support
    1. Live view must appear upside, when the camera is upside down.
    2. Menu setting displays you have to make while setting the camera should not appear upside down.
  9. JPEG and Raw photo files
    1. Need Raw files for post processing to adjust left and right camera file exposure and color differences
    2. Post processing produces better photos many times especially to fix noise issues from high ISO settings
  10. Camera with both manual settings and fully automatic settings
    1. Olympus iAuto feature is very helpful when shooting events with many changing brightness levels. Look for a camera with intelligent auto settings.
    2. For some scenes you don't have time to change any camera settings.
    3. Other times you want manual settings for full control, such as a studio setting.
    4. When the light source is off to the side, one of the images will be under exposed when using automatic settings and will need post processing.
My current 3D rig with twin Olympus E-PM2 does everything except 6.2, 6.3, and 8.2. The flash unit in the photo below is about 10 inches above the cameras and is centered for balance. Instead of the flash unit I usually use a PocketWizard wireless controller to trigger off camera strobes.

Dynamic VR vs Static Stereoscope

Your great-great-great grandparent's static image display stereoscope needs an update.

With an Android smartphone app you can view 3D photos dynamically in a Google Cardboard VR headset.

What makes a 3D photo pop in the 3D/VR app is the capability to
  • zoom in to magnify the photo
    • magnify to see detail
    • see background subject details you would otherwise miss
  • zoom out to shrink the photo
    • view the entire photo
    • zoom out to see foreground subjects comfortably, when a foreground subject is too close compared to the background
    • select a constant magnification level for you to view a sequence of photos comfortably
  • pan up/down, left/right to select window areas of interest in the photo. You can view selected areas of the photo that are out of view when you zoom in
You cannot do these things with yesterday's stereoscopes. View this web page in the app and see the photo above in 3D.

Check out the Mary Kate Fashion Photo Shoot (the stereoscope photo above) in 3D/VR with this app:

3D Fashion Shoot with Model Mary Kate

Mary Kate Fashion Shoot

You can view 3D photos I shot recently of model Mary Kate (above) with your Cardboard VR headset and phone, when you run my free Android app in Google Play Store:

Mary not only models but is also a high fashion stylist and makeup artist. I shot these fashion photos with my 3D twin camera rig at Fashmor Studio (Peter Italiano Photography) in Allentown, PA  on July 23rd. The studio strobes output is high power with short duration so I was able to capture Mary's dress twirl at 1/125, F11, ISO 200.
In the app click on screen or use a remote bluetooth controller Enter key to advance to the next photo. To see detail in the dress and look closer, press the volume up key on the phone or a bluetooth remote controller to enter Zoom mode. In Zoom mode you roll your Cardboard VR headset right to zoom in (magnify) and roll left to zoom out (shrink). Reposition to an area of interest by moving the headset up/down or left right. Press the volume up key again to save the zoom level and continue viewing photos at your preferred magnification level. Or stay in Zoom mode and advance to the next photo with the Enter key and reposition the photo as you like.
The photos are stored in the app as 4K (width x 2160h) images. With a high resolution phone like the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7 you will be able to see dress detail up close.

3D/VR Stereo Photo Viewer App

3D/VR Stereo Photo Viewer
3D/VR Stereo Photo Viewer

It seems like it has been a long time since my last post, because I have been very busy coding, testing, and writing. Especially in the last three weeks, when I published and polished my new 3D/VR Stereo Photo Viewer app for Android Google Cardboard VR head mounted devices. I also built a supporting web site. It's a for sale app on the Google Play Store, and is an upgrade from my free app 3D Stereo Photo Viewer. You can find it at:

The web site supporting these apps is

Why buy this app when you can get the free version??

The answer is that you can use the app with Google Cardboard VR headsets. The app corrects the lens distortion that occurs with Cardboard style headsets, yet it can still be used with smart phone stereoscopes, same as the free app. In the free app the distortion of the lens in Cardboard VR may not bother you depending on the photo, but you will only see the center of the photo close up in the Cardboard HMD due to the immersive viewing effect of these headsets for VR.

With the paid app you can zoom in and out of the photo and reposition your viewing window over any area of interest in the photo. You zoom in by rolling (airplane roll) the HMD to the right (i.e. clockwise) and zoom out by rolling to the left (i.e. counter-clockwise). You reposition the viewing window by moving the headset left/right (airplane yaw) and up/down (airplane pitch). By moving your headset to zoom and reposition, the result is similar to making a temporary photo crop. This will be of interest depending on the photo subject.

The app will also automatically detect when you reposition out of the photo. Then you can click (pull lever) or enter key on a remote controller to get back to the center.

The advantages of the zoom feature are:

  1. Zoom-in  will show photo details you might otherwise miss. And you can see much more detail when photos are sized to 4K (3840x2160 pixels) for each eye, and stored as individual left and right photos. This works well even for phones that have 1920x1080 display resolution.
  2. Zoom-out allows you to see close foreground subjects with more eye comfort.
Other new features in the Cardboard VR mode use two remote bluetooth controller keys for viewing with a headset. These features replace the keys used for Camera cha-cha and Menu..
  1. When you view 3D photos from web sites, some of the images in a web page may not be 3D. A remote key (volume up) allows you to switch to 2D mode showing the same photo in each eye, do you don't have to open the HMD to change your view.
  2. Sometimes your viewing window in the headset may be far from the center. For this situation there is a remote recenter key (volume down) to reposition the viewing window to the center of the photo but keep the same zoom level.

There is also a new free app consisting of a short collection of 3D photos from a vacation trip to Barcelona, Spain, where we visited a food market "El Mercat de La Boqueria". The photos were taken with a FujiFilm W3 camera (3D), aligned with Stereo Photo Maker and color adjustments made with Lightroom. This app demonstrates how the head movement works in the paid app.

Henri Cartier-Bresson Interview in NY Times

Photographer F. James Conley wrote a blog entitled "An Interview with Cartier Bresson on the X-Pro2" His blog posting is a clever way to review a camera as if it were used by a famous photographer. It caught my attention because I'm a fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson's work. In the article there are also links to an interview with Cartier-Bresson by photographer Sheila Turner-Seed and transcribed by her daughter Rachel Seed and published in the NY Times.

I think the interview contains jewels of wisdom for photographers. But I would disagree with his assessment of color photography. The technology of digital color photography is so much better now than it was in his time. 

Here are links to the two articles with the interview transcription:


Animated Photo Merge Video

I created this video from two photos by blending them with program code I wrote using Processing 3.1.

Here are the two photos:

Here is link to the code on GitHub

Ephemeral Art - 3D Fruit Sculpture

Fruit and Vegetable Sculpture 3D Photo

There is so much short lived, ephemeral art, that you must photograph it before it is gone. This includes subjects like the fruit sculpture above, as well as ice sculptures, beach sand sculptures, body painting, light painting, platted food designs, sky writing, sidewalk chalk drawings, and all types of performance art, to think of a few. When it's gone, the photograph becomes the Art, so you have to capture it well. And 3D photos will make it look virtually real (VR).

UPDATE - more ephemeral art:
Ohio Art Etch A Sketch drawings

Morikami Museum - Japanese Tattoo Exhibit

Japanese Tattoos, front panels

During a visit to the Morikami Museum and Gardens, Delray Beach, Florida, I was intrigued by the "Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World" exhibit by photographer,  Kip Fulbeck. Standing out in the exhibit are the larger than life panels with front and back photographs of the whole body Japanese tattoos, known as irezumi. Many more photographs of the intricate tattoo fine art were shown with both male and female subjects.

I shot the 3D side by side photos using the cha-cha method with my Samsung S6 phone camera and edited with Lightroom, Stereo Photo Maker, and Faststone. 

Japanese Tattoos, back panels

Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World

Kip Fulbeck, Photographer

Example 2D to 3D photo transition

What you see here when looking through a stereoscope is a 2D picture of a plant followed by the same plant in a 3D view. Your vision transitions from monocular to stereoscopic and back. The plant comes alive and pops in 3D compared to 2D.

I took three photos of this plant using the stereo cha-cha camera method: left, center, and right. After aligning the 3D photo formed by the left and right photos in Stereo Photo Maker and aligning the center photo with the 3D photo in Photoshop, I made this GIF image.



3D Stereo Photo Viewer - Cat

I have been busy improving my 3D Stereo Photo Viewer app for Android. One new feature I added works directly with my blog site. If you are viewing this page with an Android phone in the Chrome browser, then all of the photos embedded in this Web page can be seen using the viewer by clicking on the link here to launch the app:

3D Stereo Photo Viewer 

And 2D photos can be viewed too.

3D Photo Collage Philadelphia Museum of Art

Currently the Philadelphia Museum of Art has an exhibit from its own collection of photos in the Honickman Gallery. Upon entering the gallery there is a unique 3D photo collage (three layers of photos sandwiched between acrylic sheets). Unfortunately I did not note the photographer or name of the art work when I took this 3D cha-cha photos. I will have to remedy this omission on my next visit.

I took these photos to give you readers a better idea what the 3D photo collage art looks like if  you can't visit the museum.

Morris Arboretum 3D Photos

Tree Yarn coverings
Melissa Maddonni Haims artist show titled:

Yarn covered railing

Close up yarn knitted decorations

Rose Garden Vase Relief

Closeup Rose Garden Vase Ornament

African Sculpture

Recent 3D cha-cha technique photos taken with Samsung Galaxy S6 phone at the Morris Arboretum April 2016

Aligned and cropped with Stereo Photo Maker

If you are viewing this page in an Android browser (Chrome) click this link to launch my 3D Stereo Photo Viewer app and see all the embedded photos.

3D Camera Cha-Cha

Aligned and cropped cha-cha photo

I photographed these flowers in 3D using the cha-cha technique available with my latest version of 3D Stereo Photo Viewer and Camera Cha-Cha menu option launching the Open Camera app. I aligned and cropped the above photo using Stereo Photo Maker. The cha-cha technique is only good for static subjects with no movement anywhere, i.e. no wind.

Unaligned  1:1 square cha-cha photo
Here is the same photo before alignment or cropping. I used a 3x3 grid overlay with Open Camera so I could see the main subject offset relative to the grid marker for best 3D effect. Even without alignment, I thought the 3D photo was pleasing to look at because it was not too badly misaligned when shot.

Photo taken with a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone, Open Camera, and 3D Stereo Photo Viewer, and alignment/crop using Stereo Photo Maker.

My last blog posting about the cha-cha technique was

Samsung Galaxy Phone Suggestion - Add Twin Camera Feature

Samsung Galaxy phone with twin camera (photoshop concept suggestion)

Here is a suggestion I sent to Samsung today.

I bought a Galaxy S6 phone and Gear VR headset last year, and  I enjoy using these devices. One addition hardware feature I would like to have in a future phone is a second primary camera, spaced horizontally 65 mm from the first with the flash between the two lenses. With this enhanced phone and the Gear VR, I could capture true 3D photos and videos and have a way to view them easily with the Gear VR HMD. Plus with the cameras it opens up possibilities for new AR apps too. This feature seems like the missing piece to the puzzle of getting more out of my phone. Thank you.

Adding another camera may present problems with space, the phone might have to be thicker. And a faster or dual graphics processor will be needed for AR/VR with two cameras.