Fragments of life snapped in stereo

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 12:00am

If the world is in three dimensions, why record it in a flat way? That is the question Alder Wong Koon-wing has asked himself ever since he first saw a black-and-white 'stereo', or '3D' photo of a boy running.

Then in Form Three, he was shocked by the image. 'Everything fades away but the boy. It is like time has stopped,' he recalls.

It was not until 1995 when he found a German website, which specialised in stereo photography, that he started his adventures in its world. The technique involves taking two pictures simultaneously a few centimetres apart, and then looking at the photos with a viewer, giving the impression of a three-dimensional image.

Keeping a full-time job as an IT consultant in a customer relations management company, the 33-year-old is keen on recording the many faces of Hong Kong in 'stereo'.

'In the past, I was interested in taking pictures of Hong Kong scenes, like historical sites and beautiful hiking places, but now I am focusing on recording historic events, such as the July 1 demonstration, the June 4 vigil and Cheung Chau's [bun festival],' says Mr Wong, who believes these events truly reflect the spirit of Hong Kong's people.

But Mr Wong is disappointed that few quality cameras are available.

'You can buy good 3D cameras from a German manufacturer, but you have to place an order two years in advance,' he says.

Buying the equipment on auction websites and reassembled parts from different cameras to make a new one solved the problem.

Now he owns nine stereo cameras, five of which he made himself.

'People kept asking me what's that for,' said Mr Wong, referring to one of his large home-made cameras. 'Sometimes people watch me taking pictures for a long time before coming up to ask where I bought it.'

The amateur photographer's biggest wish is for Hongkongers to recognise 3D photography as a form of art.

However, having tried to promote the form for years, he admits it is not an easy task.

'Very few camera makers are interested in producing cameras and viewers for stereo photography,' says Mr Wong. 'It takes two negatives or slides to make one 3D photo: the high cost keeps people away.

'People without training need a special viewer to see the three- dimension effect, so it is very hard to promote 3D photos on the internet.'

Finding little widespread interest for his beloved hobby doesn't bother Mr Wong as he is still busy recording Hong Kong life and sharing his work with people around him.

'People who see 3D photos for the first time always look up with a big smile, a little bit amazed. I just love that look,' he said.

People interested in stereo photography can contact Mr Wong at