Introduction by Barry

Unlike most of my friends in the 3-D photography community, I didn't own a View-Master™ as a kid, and don't remember ever seeing a 3-D comic book. An amateur photographer since my teens, I lived my first full fifty years unaware of 3-D photography. Seeing a stereoscope in an antique store during the winter of 2003 changed my life. How was it I knew nothing about this, when before my eyes I could see the civil war was shot in 3-D. I was instantly fascinated, and within a few months was making hundreds of my own 3-D images for the stereoscope. That was in the early days of digital cameras becoming popular. Digital photography, 3-D imagery, and my computer geekiness gelled perfectly in me. The next summer I attended a National Stereoscopic Association convention, where Steve Hughes and Terry Wilson exhibited some phantograms. Steve Hughes also conducted there the NSA's first workshop on how to make them. The spring of 2005 I published my first book, "Phantograms from Nature, Western USA."

What is Macro Photography?
Macro photography involves looking at small subjects or areas using special cameras and/or lenses made to be placed much closer to the subject than in standard photography. Macro photography exposes us to the details and intracacies of the smaller world we don't typically see.

What is a Stereo Pair?
A Stereo Pair is a set of two images made of a subject from slightly different viewpoints, just as your left and right eyes see the world from slightly different viewpoints. Your brain uses the slight differences between the left and right eye views, called parallax, as a critical part of its depth perception mechanism. Still 3-D images are based on stereo pairs. In a 3-D movie, every frame is a stereo pair.

What is a Phantogram?
A Phantogram is a special kind of 3-D image. Beyond just showing depth, it attempts to imitate normal vision, to re-create the actual visual experience of being there. A phantogram is based on 1) a point of view (actually two points of view, one for each eye); and 2) a window. The placement of the camera makes for the point of view. A rectangular frame carefully placed in the shot becomes the window for the stereo pair, and provides critical reference points for reversing out the effects of perspective that distort every photograph. The inside edges of the frame become "ground zero" for the resulting image, level with the page. Objects above the window rise out of the page as if there, objects below the window sink down below the page.

In the case of a macro phantogram, it imitates the vision of a small creature, eyes approximately 3/8 inches (1 cm) apart apart, looking at a plant or animal vastly larger than itself. A phantogram is not a perfect duplication of what we see, but it's a significant and remarkable step in that direction.

What is an Anaglyph?
An Anaglyph is a 3-D image meant to be viewed with colored glasses. It uses the color filters to selectively allow each eye to only see the image intended for it. The most popular color combination for anaglyph glasses is red-cyan. There are a number of possible approaches in creating an anaglyph image, but most typically it's done by combining the red channel of a left eye image with the green and blue channels of a right eye image.

What is Free Viewing?
Free Viewing is merging a stereo pair into 3-D without the aid of 3-D glasses or any other viewing device. It's just a stereo pair of left-eye and right-eye images, your eyes, and your brain. Free viewing is a superpower you may not know you have. There are two ways we can free view a stereo pair: parallel viewing and cross-eyed viewing. In parallel viewing the right eye image is placed in front of the right eye, and the left eye image in front of the left eye. You stare straight ahead at both of them to merge into 3-D. Stereoscopes and the popular Viewmaster™ use parallel viewing. Cross-eyed viewing involves the opposite, placing the left eye image on the right and the right eye image on the left. The viewer crosses his/her eyes to fuse the image into 3-D.

How were the images in this book shot?
It may be helpful to understand how these images were shot, including my relative lack of control in shooting them. They are all spontaneous hand-held shots, taken solely with available natural light. They were shot at botanical gardens, on hikes, or most typically just walking my neighborhood. My earliest macro phantograms were shot with a Fujifilm W3 and Cyclopital macro attachment made for that camera, but currently I carry a Panasonic Lumix GX7 macro camera and a couple of 3-D lenses made for that camera and modified a little by George Themelis (aka "Dr. T").

I carry with me a set of eight variably sized wooden rectangles, and I surround my subject with one of them. The rectangle in the shot defines the window, and provides guidelines to reverse the effects of perspective. Ray Zone once described my technique as a great analog solution to a digital problem. The rectangles are made as a nested set, laser cut from a thin sheet of wood, the largest with an open area of 7.5 x 9.75 inches (19.05 x 24.77 cm) the smallest an open area of 2.5 x 4.19 inches (6.35 x 10.64 cm). They fit nicely in a two gallon plastic bag. Almost all the images in this book employed the four smallest rectangles from the set.

When I see something I want to shoot, I select an appropriate sized rectangle, and consider if I need to change the lens. With my left hand I position the rectangle around my subject, looking for a 3-D image I like. With my right I hold the camera, my index finger on the shutter release. Shoot. Shoot. Move. Wait for the wind to die down. Shoot.

To best enjoy this book ..."
We're providing you all the images in anaglpyh for viewing with red-cyan 3-D glasses, and also for free viewing, both parallel and cross-eyed. Some colors are problematic in anaglyphs (i.e. red and its variants). My partner on this book, Jim McManus, worked to improve all the images and prepared the analyphs, in some cases making color modifications so that even those with the most challenging colors could be enjoyably viewed in with the red and cyan glasses.

Explore the free view options, develop your superpower. It's like yoga for the eyes. Relax, slide, merge, hold. Don't try to force it. Most people can do it one way or the other, some people can do both, some people can do neither. At very least the free view images will let you to see the actual colors.

Phantograms are shot not straight at the reference rectangle (90 degrees) but back from an angle. Some practitioners use a consistent angle, such as 30 or 45 degrees, but I don't; I'm generally somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees. Mainly I look for an interesting vignette, and set out to visually capture and replicate it for others to see. Viewing a phantogram is best when your eyes are at the same angle to the printed page as the camera was to the rectangle, so we recommend you lay the book flat on a table and move your head (or slide the book) forward or backward until it looks just right.

Because phantograms imitate normal vision, real objects can often merge seamlessly into the photographs. Add a rock or a twig or flower or leaf onto the anaglyph image and see what happens. Move your head left and right, up or down, and watch the effect on the images. Phantograms are incredibly interactive.

In most cases I didn't know much about the plants I was shooting, but recently did learn more about them. The identities of the images and some shooting notes are on the back pages of this book, and for those we couldn't determine, check out, which I'll update as more information comes in. I'd welcome and appreciate your input. If you know about one I didn't identify or if I got any wrong, please email me at

I'm a lucky man. I walk my dog Pepper every day subconsciously hunting beautiful, intricate moments of reality and nature. Phantograms are unique, and superior at showing these shapes as they live in nature. In an imperfect way I replicate what I see, ... from a point of view and through a specific window. I invite you to share my addiction, and if you do make some yourself, please share them with me.

Finally, if there seems to be vastly more flora than fauna images, I agree, and apologize. I love good macros of bugs and other small animals. Unfortunately the nature of my hovering two handed approach tends to repel animals from hanging out in my shots.

Barry Rothstein