The Chromobinocular Method: One 2-D Photo to 3-D

By Fred Truck

Copyright © 2012 by Fred Truck

A Little Background

In 1973, I became interested in the work of Marcel Duchamp. This was not an unusual event in itself, as thousands of artists in my generation were undergoing a similar development.

One of the first things I noticed about Duchamp’s writings was his interest in perspective, and different ways to approach it. I became aware of his interest, also, in anaglyphs, 3-D pictures that could be viewed with red/green glasses.

Only much, much later did I find that Duchamp had tried to make anaglyphs of his famous last work, Etant Donnes, but had abandoned the attempt. He really didn’t have the technology to make anaglyphs, or the advantages of red/cyan glasses to see 3-D pictures with.

By this time, I was making anaglyphs myself, from digital photographs I took, but I was restless. I was looking for my own way of making 3-D.

In developing the process described below, my practice went through different phases I recorded in three different essays. They can be found here:

Anaglyph Zion Crossing 2

Anaglyph Crossing Zion at the Narrows

Anaglyph Red Bull Punch--Morning Coffee 2

Clicking on these images will take you to the essays.

This led me to the following invention I am disclosing publically as a way of protecting my claim of first inventor, but also in the hopes that others interested in 3-D will try this on their own.

Chromobinocular Process

Traditional anaglyphs require two photographs of the same image, differing only slightly in point of view. In digital implementation, the red channel of the second RGB (red green blue) image replaces the red channel of the first image. When viewed through red/cyan glasses, the composite image is separated. The red channel is seen only by the left eye, which has the red lens over it. The green and blue channels are seen only by the right eye, which has the cyan lens over it. The human mind synthesizes the channels, generating an illusion of depth because each eye is receiving a slightly different point of view.

This approach presents serious issues for a photographer interested in 3-D imagery. It rules out action photographs, or images of things that change rapidly, such as traffic, or stitched images. Traditional anaglyphs have been made from a single photograph, but the methods used involve generating a second point of view from the original, and are time consuming and laborious. Additionally, even very successful anaglyphs create objects with no 3-dimensional depth or weight. They appear as cardboard cutouts suspended in space.

There are many different 3-D imaging methods that I ran across in my patent search. Most are handily referenced in this paper:

I have coined the word “chromobinocular” to cover the process I invented to generate a 3-D image from a single, digital color photograph or a single stitched image made from many digital color photographs. My Chromobinocular technique addresses and solves these issues mentioned above.

The Chromobinocular Process converts standard RGB (red green blue) digital photographs from 2-dimensional images to 3-dimensional images, when the image is viewed through red/cyan glasses.

Before beginning, realize that this process can be realized using an advanced software graphics package such as Photoshop™ or GIMP, both of which have a blending mode called linear burn. Linear burn:

Looks at the color information in each channel and darkens the base color to reflect the blend color by decreasing the brightness. Blending with white produces no change.—Photoshop™ Help

To use the Chromobinocular Process:

1. Open a photograph in advanced graphics software.

Red Channel

Linear Burn on Red Channel

2. Perform a linear burn on the red channel of the image as shown above.

3. Shift the red channel image x number of pixels to the left.

4. Shift the green and blue channels x number of pixels to the right.

The more the channels are shifted apart, the deeper the image appears, until the channel discrepancy can no longer be resolved by the human mind.

5. To eliminate the border areas where the red channel and the blue and green channels no longer register with each other, resize the image horizontally, making it 2x number of pixels smaller.

Because different images have different resolutions, how far the channels are actually moved will vary. Using a combination of the typical move tool, and the keyboard arrows, this formula will determine how many pixels a given channel is shifted right or left, where n = the number of times the arrow key is struck, and r = the screen resolution of the image, 72 is the standard low resolution of jpegs and tifs, and a = the actual number of pixels:

The standard shift in either horizontal direction is 2 strokes of the arrow key, but this may vary in certain cases depending on the picture.

6. View the image through standard anaglyph red/cyan glasses.

The resulting images are 3-dimensional, but they are not traditional anaglyphs. I’ve called them anaglyphs in the past because the viewer must use red/cyan glasses to see the 3-D, and the red and green/blue channels are shifted out of phase with each other to create stereopsis. Rather than different points of view, the binocular effect is created by color. This gives objects in the 3-D image weight and depth. For this reason, I call images that result from my Chromobinocular process anaglyph 2.0.

Notice how my Chromobinocular process gives depth to the Seurat painting.

By the nature of the style my photographs often take, I’ve found it useful to use red channel shifts to the right, rather than shifts to the left. This gives these pictures an out-of-frame effect. Rather than building the image in from the screen, the image is built from the screen out, as in this image, Magnificent Juniper:

The technique I used in this image is the same as the standard listed above, only the directions of the shifts are reversed. Red to the right, blue and green to the left.


After typing a few corrections and making a few passages more clear, I took a look on the Internet to see what was offered in the way of 3-D conversions of 2-D photographs. I’d seen most of these offerings before, but there are always a few new ones. Currently you have a choice of methods and more are being developed regularly, eventually someone will develop the standard. I think my chromobinocular process is the standard you’re looking for.


My Adventure at the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition

By Fred Truck

This is my prunus mume ‘contorta’ at the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY on June 9-10, 2012.

The tree is 22 years old, 7 of its most recent years as a bonsai. The Tokoname pot rests on a slab made by Dave Lowman. The stone companion is a rock I found in a vacant lot in Casper, Wyoming when I was 12 years old. It is on a stand from Hollow Creek Bonsai. The stand is on a slab by Jim Gremel.

None of this would have happened had not Brian Van Fleet suggested I post my log concerning the development of this tree. I posted it on BonsaiNut, as well as the IBC forum. Bill Valavanis saw it, read it, and then asked my permission to publish a slight condensation in the first issue of 2012 of International Bonsai magazine, which he edits.

Additionally, he asked me if I had ever considered entering it in the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester later that spring. I responded—I’m certainly interested, but have never felt that my bonsai came up to the very high standards necessary as exemplified in the show.

He encouraged me to submit a photo anyway, so I did. Three days later, I received an acceptance letter.

Needless to say, this was something I never imagined would happen.
Bill set down a couple of requirements for display in this show that were markedly different than requirements made in other bonsai shows I have been in. First, the trees were to be completely “mossed up.” Second, accent plantings were required. If the artist concerned didn’t want to do an accent plant, stones were an acceptable substitution. Scrolls were optional.

For me, displaying a mume when it wasn’t in flower was a special challenge. Almost always, mume are shown when in flower, but if you take the time to look and research the literature, you can find good examples of mume in leaf. Typically, all stone fruit trees are subject to shot hole fungus. When this happens, as it does, the leaf must be removed, for cosmetic reasons, since the fungus doesn’t hurt the tree or its production of flowers.

By looking very closely at mume in leaf in my bonsai book collection, I could see, occasionally, a hole in the middle of a leaf. There weren’t many, but they were there. This gave me an idea of what was acceptable for the leaves in a big show.

The deadline for having my tree at the Fair and Exhibition Hall in Rochester was 2pm, June 8th, 2012. Though very interesting, I won’t relate my adventures getting to Rochester in this document. I had my tree in place at the show by 11am. I took some pictures that I knew would be just horrible due to the lack of a tripod. I was not disappointed.

Then I began to look for Brian Van Fleet’s Japanese Maple. He had asked me to take pictures of it, being unable to be present himself. I couldn’t find Brian’s tree. I looked and looked. No dice. I decided I’d have to try to take a picture the next day.


Before the show opened, many exhibitors were combing the vendors’ displays, hoping to score the perfect tree or a pot that would work with that unique tree.

I was right in there with them. Lorna gave me permission to buy a tree for myself for Father’s Day, so I was looking seriously.

I cannot remember the vendor’s name, but he was offering persimmon trees. Almost all of them had fruit. Being a flower and fruit guy, my curiosity was piqued, but eventually, I moved on. He had a number of persimmon trees, ready to pot up. By opening time on Saturday morning, he only had one left.

New England Bonsai Gardens was there, Lang Bonsai, Brussel’s Bonsai and many other big name vendors. I found Mendocino Coast Bonsai, with their display of coast redwoods very interesting. They had trees in the range of $50 to $2,500. Clearly, the examples they had were primarily for bonsai artists who like to carve deadwood.

Saturday Morning

The show opened at 9am, Saturday, June 9th. I checked my display to make sure everything was in place. The show staff had a watering crew that went around watering trees all day. This was really important, as all of us showing were worried about how our trees would fare.

I finally found Brian’s tree. It was looking fabulous, well-appointed in every way. Due to the no-photography-of-the-show rule, I was unable to take pictures of it.

I went back to tour the vending area, again. I paid particular attention to Royal Bonsai Garden, owned by Suthin Sukolosovisit. He had pines, and all manner of other trees, most priced out of my league. However, he had some forsythia that would have made wonderful shohin trees. I put those on my mental shopping list, and continued on.

The Demos 1

On Friday afternoon, I watched a demo by Marc Noelanders, famous European bonsai artist. I wasn’t too interested in the tree he worked on, but I was amazed at how quickly and powerfully he worked.

Bill’s Open House

Bill Valavanis, the 3rd US National organizer, publisher of International Bonsai Magazine, and bonsai nursery proprietor, opened his house (that is, his garden) Saturday and Sunday. Lorna and I went on Sunday. Here are a few photos she took:


Bill’s display benches go on for quite a ways.

Of personal interest to me were Bill’s chojubai quince, growing outside in the ground. He has both red and white varieties. I noticed that the red chojubai was in fruit. These two quinces have been in the ground for a long time, and will make amazing bonsai when potted up.

Back to the Vendors

On Sunday, I decided to buy a Coast Redwood pre-bonsai from Mendocino Coast Bonsai. I settled on a very thick trunked shohin potentially that had all kinds of deadwood possibility.

At this time, I toured the show again, checking out my favorite trees. I went by Brian’s maple, and was surprised to see that it had picked up an additional accent planting. There were two, whereas the day before there had only been one. Some kind of mixup? I don’t know.

Another Demo

My afternoon was taken up with observing a demo. Kathy Shaner did commentary while Yasuo Mitsuya worked on a huge Coast Redwood, no doubt donated by Mendocino Coast Bonsai. Although there seemed to be a lot of contradiction between Shaner and Mitsuya (she preferred an oval pot, he preferred a rectangle), this demo was a wealth of information for me, as I considered how to proceed with my own redwood.

One thing that has stuck in my mind is that with redwoods, even though you may have a massive trunk, you need to wait until shoots harden into workable branches before styling. This may mean waiting a year or two to do very much.


As Sunday afternoon progressed, some vendors began slashing prices. I had my eye on a few books, and got them from Stone Lantern at a reduced price. The book that turned out to be an outstanding bargain for me was The Chinese Art of Bonsai & Potted Landscapes by Y.C. Shen, Beulah Kwok Sung and C.B. Sung with a foreword by John Naka, published in 1991. For those who appreciate well manufactured books, this one is of excellent design, with outstanding photography in color.


One of the main virtues of an event like the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition is that a relatively unknown exhibitor like me can meet and talk with the lights of the bonsai world. Sometimes, this meant reconnecting with people like Brussels Martin, who was a judge in a bonsai show I participated in a few years ago. Other times it meant putting my face to my name, as I did with Rob Kempinski, who knew me through my online activity as “the quince guy.” Finally, I met people I had had no contact with before, but who were highly recommended, such as Peter Warren, sensei of Brian Van Fleet. Or Jim Gremel, whose humor I appreciated, or Wayne Schoen of Stone Lantern, to name a few.

William Valavanis

The 3rd U.S. National Exhibition was organized Bill Valavanis. I have not known him long, but I admire his energy and organizing abilities, as well as his artistry with bonsai, and his publishing capabilities. Wherever I looked during the show, he was there, working the phone, organizing what needed to be done, helping others. Thanks, Bill, for a wonderful experience.

–Fred Truck

A Jack of All T…


A Jack of All Trades

By Fred Truck

Copyright © 2012 by Fred Truck

The “Jack of All Trades, Master of None” phrase is common in English. It has a long history, and is sometimes read positively, sometimes negatively. This rendering from 1721 restores the positive meaning:

“Jack of all trades, master of none,/ Oftimes better than a master of one.”

I was in the eighth grade when a teacher informed me I was a Jack of All Trades. I had no idea what she was talking about. I just wanted to be in the band, because I liked music, be in the chorus, because I liked to sing, run in track because I was athletic, and work on the newspaper because I liked to write.

Eventually, I saw teachers competing with each other to attract me to their extra-curricular activities. This situation caused me a lot of problems. I wasn’t interested in pleasing my teachers. I just really wanted to do things—all of them.

In the end, I pleased none of them, and went on with my life, a little more perceptive from then on. This denouement is reflected in another version of the couplet above, in Lithuanian this time:

“When you have nine trades, then your tenth one is famine/starvation.”

Fortunately, it wasn’t so extreme for me.

Many people ask: Why is it that some people are expert in more than one field? How do you do it?

I think a more important question is—Why do you do it? As reflected in the Lithuanian aphorism, being a generalist or a polymath is not a road to economic well-being. These days, in particular, specialization is the accepted route to success due to division of labor.

Why do you do it? Here is the answer: You do it because you want to do it. You have no other option if you want to realize yourself as fully as you can. One of my favorite artists from the Italian Renaissance, Leon Battista Alberti said: A man can do anything, if he would.

As for how it is done, probably there are many ways, but in my own case, I have a basic vocabulary of primitives. These primitives are visual, and all are based on the circle, with the notion that a circle can become a rectangle or a network of points, and so on. These primitives also have meanings that are elemental, and can change with the circumstance. These core ideas are my anchor. While the outward expression takes different forms, the central core is always the same.

This strong central organization of my perceptions has enabled me to work on a national and sometimes international level as a writer and maker of artist’s books (Camping Out B, 1975 and George Maciunas and the Face of Time, 1984, and Ten Year Sandwich, 2008, an artbook of my prints and sculpture), a sculptor (Mr. Milk Bottle Gets Into Advertizing, neon sculpture in Almost Warm and Fuzzy, 1999-2001), a programmer (co-founder and systems engineer of the Art Com Electronic Network, 1986-1999), and most recently, as digital print maker and photographer (A Portrait of the Artist as a Truck, Shizuoka, Japan, 2007; and FLICKr photostream, 2009 to present). Finally, I showed a Contorted Japanese Flowering Apricot bonsai in the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY, a juried exhibition that is the most important in the U.S.

I have a few more surprises in different areas that, if they are successful, will be added to this list in the future.

Taco Bell 2 5-10-12


Taco Bell 2 5-10-12

When I drove by the Taco Bell in the attached picture the first time, I thought–How garishly bizarre. It’s still under construction, but close to done. Then, later, I began to think about the whole Taco Bell phenomenon. Generally, these fast food places are a good source of income for the construction industry. At least here, restaurant construction for these mega-corporations is practically constant. That means jobs in the restaurant, and for construction, and that means dollars for the economy. On a large economic scale, the nutritional qualities of the food served amount to very little. I don’t habituate places like Taco Bell, but when traveling, sometimes there isn’t a good option. I don’t think about my surroundings. I’m not magically transported to Tex-Mex land, escaping my boring existence, as Baudrillard might imagine. It’s just a place to scarf down a burrito and hit the road. On to bigger and better things. The building itself acts as a billboard, a signal I can eat there as I drive through. It’s a sign that’s 3-dimensional.

As such, this building is from a long line of roadside architectural wonders, primarily from Socal, but actually, all over the country. The Taco Bell joint is more sophisticated than a hot dog shaped building, but it’s still a joint. Pop art played heavily on Americana like the Taco Bell concern. Even in its 4th or 5th generation, some things about pop never change.