OK, the set is ready, cue John Wayne and the stagecoach… :-) No, that is not the trail I meant, but that of my own quest (”image quest” is the name of this photo- blog).

The image-processing milestone I’ve been trying to reach for some years now was this: developing a process by which to transform a (’flat’) single-shot, two-dimensional photograph, taken with a single lens camera, into a “3D” image.  And I mean a 3D look for each of the key elements of the image, beyond a careful composition for a ’sense of depth.’

Re-working this iconic scene of Monument Valley (where “Stagecoach” and other John Ford classic Westerns were filmed) helped me experiment with 3D techniques I had developed through trial and error over the years… and it seems to have worked!… at least on my screen. (I hope you too can see the 3D effect.)

Some background… Monument Valley is not a National Park. Technically it isn’t even in the US; it is a tribal park in the Navajo nation (Navajo name: Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, meaning valley of the rocks). The Navajo have done a good job developing the natural assets of this area, adding only a few buildings here and there as needed, all tastefully done, making a good effort to ensure a visual blend with the surrounding, monumental geology.

I visited Monument Valley in September ‘09 and was favorably impressed with everything… except for this unexpected little surprise… As I moved around looking for the iconic view that I had in mind, I soon realized that the best vantage point from which to get all three of the famous “Mittens” (sandstone buttes) in a single frame, and arranged the iconic way, was one of the balconies of the visitor center! Not a coincidence, I’m sure. Worse yet, that balcony was (and perhaps still is?) closed to visitors.   And for no obvious reason. No work was being done on it, it was as if the view itself was off limits –perhaps to minimize competition for the posters that were being sold at the Visitor center store (?)

I asked politely if I may get on the balcony for a quick photograph, which would only take a minute, and was told in no uncertain terms to… stay away from that balcony door. Period. :|

Meanwhile, the view I wanted was indeed there, clearly visible, behind the thick glass of the store window, ‘framed’ by the usual tourist fare: Navajo blankets, sand paintings, dream catchers, turquoise jewelery etc. The window itself seemed clean — or at least as clean as may be expected for a public building, but obviously not of sufficient photographic quality to act as a sort of ‘filter’ for a professional grade lens. But… what choice did I have?


What you see below was shot from behind the visitor center store window, with the camera handheld (too crowded to set up a tripod) and with a medium telephoto lens set to focus well beyond the window. The image was just re-cooked in Photoshop with my ’secret recipe’ for 3D effect.

As Paul Harvey used to say: “And now you know… the rest of the story”