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3D Photography with Matjaž Tančič

While still majoring in Fashion Photography at the London College of Fashion, Matjaž Tančič dwelled into all areas of photography, experimenting with portrait to architectural, to different techniques and methods, he began his path into the professional scene as a photojournalist for Mladina magazine. His transcendence into 3D photography started when his imagery was exhibited all across Europe. He later embarked on his first trip to Asia where he worked on the largest 3D project in China, earning him worldwide recognition.

Invented during the Victorian period, the method of shooting 3D is as old as photography itself. The uniqueness and technical challenge of 3D photography is what grabbed Matjaz’ attention, not many photographers dabble in the field as it is demanding and requires a sense of immersion. Nevertheless, 3D photography gives an undeniable element of surprise, making his viewers visual grasp his images rather than simply glance.

In his North Korean series, Matjaž showcases the society and people who necessarily wouldn’t be represented. Using the 3D technique, he says, gives more impact to his viewers.

“In a country like North Korea, you usually are shown a mass of people, barely seeing any faces throwing any personalization out the window. I wanted to go to a different extreme and get as close to them as possible. With 3D, you almost enter their personal space, from their expressions to the clothes they’re wearing – an almost uncomfortable feeling” In his exhibition, the names, ages, occupations to where he met his subjects are noted.

Matjaž has given us some tips and guidelines to help potential photographers make their first leap into this exciting field.


Stereoscopic Base-line

In 3D photography, you need two images, one for the left eye and one from the right. There are two common methods when shooting 3D. The first one is to take stereoscopic images taken from two camera viewpoints.

The distance between two cameras need to be around 6.4 cm, the average distance between human eyes. Syncing both cameras to shoot and flash at the same time is not easy, testing for triggering options is key, Matjaž says. “The settings for both cameras have to be the same, so It is best to shoot with manual and have a zoom lens, preferably not too wide or narrow .The AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED worked best for me. Small aperture is crucial... F5,6 F8 F11”

Depending on how far or close objects are, recalculate and change distances between cameras. If you are shooting something close like a table top, a centimeter between cameras is enough but if you want depth, for example clouds that are far away, you need distance between cameras.

Matjaž has found remote triggers are best to take photos at the same time. However, he says, the problem with this technique is that bigger cameras can’t get very close to each other, averaging about 12 cm apart, which produces a ghost image and is hard on the eyes. This can start to be a complex concept. Different programs online can help you calculate the perfect distance between cameras and objects, making this method much easier. Matjaz uses the ‘Free 3D Stereoscopic Calculator’ app on his iphone.

Another method, and the most frequently used is the cha-cha method. For people who just want to start, this is the easiest as you only shoot with one camera and merge two photos with software. “Start with something static, the less movement the better,” Martjac says. Both images have to be completely the same. Matjaž recommends to take as many shots as you can can to help minimalize the risk of having photos that are blurry or with mistakes.

The hard task is when an unexpected object pops up in front of your main subject of interest because of miscalculation or your main subject is too far away and not popping up enough. Daunting as it may sound, Matjaž says that he has gone through so many trials and tests in 3D that it has led him into feeling comfortable with pretty much any technique now.

How to start

Once you’ve found the subject you want to shoot, you need a good location. Your depth shouldn’t have too many layers. Shooting a person in front of a car and that car in front of a building in front of more buildings will potentially lose grounds for making a great 3D photo. Too great of a depth is not good for these types of photos. “There’s always a limited space in my photos. I shoot people in close spaces, though I make sure I have enough depth and a range between 2- 4 layers.”

Simplicity is key

Plant an object in front of your chair with a 3 dimensional wall, e.g. with drapes behind it. With 3D, especially when shooting indoors and natural light is limited, your aperture needs to be small; f/8, f/12 or f/16 are all great. When you have all these settings applied, a nice environment, and have the method in mind you want to shoot with, you’re set to shoot.


When you have two images, you have many options of viewing them. Stereo viewing cards are displayed with right and left images, producing a three-dimensional effect. Merging photos in an analytical image is also another option. Blue and red paper glasses is the most common and the cheapest to create the desired effect. It is what Matjaž uses in most of his exhibitions. The only downside is that you lose some colors when looking through filters.

If you shoot anaglyphs, which is the most popular, avoid cyan color codes red and blue. When looking at colors through 3D glasses, it can hurt the eyes a little. You can take care of this while you’re shooting or try to fix it post production

Another difficulty Matjaž points out is when photos are digital, the colors are presented within an RGB format but when printing, a photo is automatically converted to CMYK – a format that when printed, changes color tones. This is a big “rookie” mistake according to Matjaz.

“Many people don’t prepare their files to be converted thus changing the whole dynamic of a photo. This unfortunately results in a fear to explore 3D photography – because honestly, you see really bad ones.”

Key points to remember:
• Have two identical cameras or one good camera and tripod
• A lens with a small aperture
• A program or app to calculate distance between cameras and objects
• Software to process your images

The vital equipment Matjaz needs:
• The Nikon D810 and AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED x 2
• A slider and leveler for stability
• A trigger to set off both cameras at the same time

Most importantly, he reminds us to: embrace mistakes. Matjaž Tančič dominates the 3D photography world because of the trials and errors that are behind him. He stresses to start simple and eventually the technicality will follow. His next project will be a series of 3D portraits of refugees in Greece.

About Matjaz

Matjaž Tančič is a Slovenian photographer who lives and creates between Beijing and Ljubljana. He began his path as a photojournalist for Mladina magazine, but quickly made his way abroad – Matjaž is a graduate of the London College of Fashion. His photojournalistic roots can be sensed in his fashion work as well – the endless pursuit of fresh locations and that moment of spontaneity that is the trademark of journalistic photography. Over the years he has perfected his 3D style of photography.