I certainly have real reservations about Petrus Soons’ 3D work. Any comments now?

imageimageYesterday afternoon, someone calling himself GonzoII posted a message at the Free Republic message board. It was the Abstract from Petrus Soons’ website that reads:

This website summarizes work connected with digitizing Shroud photographs taken by Giuseppe Enrie in 1931, enhancing the digitized images to improve details, translating the enhanced images “gray scale data into depth data”, generating a sequence of up to 625 images of each of these, and combining these images with a Holoprinter to produce holograms (3D images) of the Shroud. It also summarizes my study of these holograms and discovery of heretofore unseen details, which confirm many previous findings and reveal some suprises.

(Excerpt) Read more at shroud3d.com

Several comments followed; “Gave me chills! I believe!”, gives you the idea.

There is nothing new here. But it is a subject well worth revisiting. Here is what I posted just over two years ago. Not one person commented at the time. Maybe I was just too wordy. Maybe I just said what nobody wanted to hear. Maybe . . . maybe. Any comments now?

(October 10, 2010 posting follows):

The pastor of a large parish in New Orleans wrote to me by email:

I think this new 3D image is the most convincing scientific evidence yet for arguing that the shroud is authentic.”

imageI strongly disagree. The pastor is referring to the red-cyan anaglyph image of the Shroud that you can see only with red and cyan 3D glasses. Personally, I feel that this is a work of art, an artist’s impression of what Jesus may have looked like, expressed in 3D. It doesn’t prove anything any more than the animated 3D movie, “Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus”  proves that horses can fly. (Have I changed my mind since myfirst posting about the site? Yes.)

Here is what the pastor wrote:

The red/cyan anaglyph of the face from the Shroud of Turin at the website shroud3d.com is startling. Regrettably, the size of the image is reduced on the website. Fortunately it is done with HTML so you can grab the bigger sized jpeg and save it on your computer. Do so right away before they reduce the size on the server.Here is the link:

Note: I have replaced the pastor’s long link with a TinyURL. You can see a bigger image (800 by 921 rather than the web page size set to 484 by 545)  just by using the following link. Do save a copy of the image on your computer and buy some inexpensive 3D glasses. Read on:


It is, of course, pointless to save this image unless you have red/cyan 3D glasses. The shroud3d website does have stereoscopic images for those who have the proper viewing equipment. It also has a short video showing slow and slight rotation of the image. But these are poor substitutions for looking at an anaglyph with 3D glasses. The anaglyph is fantastic. It will knock your socks off.

imageI took the bigger image and inserted it into a PowerPoint presentation. It looks great on an eight foot screen. Now all I have to do is buy 3D glasses for an upcoming talk at my church. I found some paper ones for $25.00 per hundred. I also had a poster of the anaglyph jpeg printed at Staples. It works great, too.

I think this new 3D image is the most convincing scientific evidence yet for arguing that the shroud is authentic.

No! The anaglyph may not be very scientific, at all. And that is a major concern because the impression one gets from the website and probably most places this image is displayed is that it is scientific. It may be, but if so, how so.

imageI am not at all convinced that the data found in the Shroud’s image supports the anaglyph on the website. I’m not convinced that adjustments that were made to the images (there seem to be many) are scientifically warranted. If this is so, if I am right, then the final product, the anaglyph at shroud3d.com must be thought of only as a work of art. Nothing more!

Red and cyan 3D glasses that I ordered from Amazon.com ($4.70) arrived earlier in the week. I have since examined the anaglyph for hours. I was glad to learn from the pastor — one of this blog’s readers — that the full size image was available and I have studied it imageon a high definition 55 inch monitor. My first reaction was not unlike our friend above. Really, do order some 3D glasses at Amazon and prepare to be amazed.

My second reaction was that there was something wrong.

Bernardo Galmarini, “the 3D expert that produced the conversion from 2D to 3D,” writes on the shroud3d site:

I thought at first, that in this more scientific conversion, the hidden information in the Shroud (3D information in the gray-scale), would be a nuisance or obstacle to produce a human representation of the face, and that I would have to struggle continuously against this. Strangely enough, this hidden scientific information in the Shroud became the key and the basis for this work, reducing my artistic work to only softening the “holes” and deformities (caused surely by the passing of time) and the adapting to what this scientific version commands you to do: filling in and normalizing the “holes” or “dead areas” in the hidden information of the linen. For example: the areas without information in the forehead have been corrected following the surrounding gray-scale with coherent information and with a normal human forehead in mind. This process was helped by the fact, that the central zone of the forehead and the bony structure of the orbits contain very coherent information and that of course was taken as a guideline.

That statement lacks needed clarity. There are certainly holes and deformities. Why is not clear in most cases. It seems completely unjustified to speculate that these are caused by the passing of time. Without knowing how the image was formed, without knowing much about how the shroud was stored or displayed over many centuries, we shouldn’t make such guesses.

bandinginfaceExactly what are the holes and deformities? They have not been detailed on the website. The bloodstains certainly are a problem and to make adjustments for these is perhaps warranted. But what about other deformities? How is the problem of banding addressed? Banding, a variegated background pattern to the cloth, perhaps the result of how the thread of the cloth was bleached and having nothing to do with the passing of time, is certainly the single biggest deformity that exists. It gets peculiar treatment in this new 3D work. The left side of the face (our right) has been partially retouched to minimize the effect. The other side of the face is shaped as though there was no banding but the banding remains. Pictured here is an estimate of the banding in the area of the face.

At the bottom of the beard and the lower areas of the hair, darker areas that are not the result of banding are strikingly evident. These relatively dark areas don’t recede towards the background as expected for grayscale plotting. (You can’t see this without 3D glasses. Don’t even try.) What is the rationale for this obviously apparent artistic adjustment? Moreover, hair above the forehead pompadours frontward without grayscale tones to support it. This hair and facial hair treatment seems artistic.

The entire head and shoulders seem to be completely detached from the background. You can, with 3D glasses on, move your own head ever so slightly and see detached movement. (Again, you can’t see this without 3D glasses.) Galmarini speaks of “hidden scientific information,” presumably but not explicitly the grayscale. I can’t find any data in support of this phenomenon. It seems as though an artificial outline has been introduced around the human form. There does not seem to be any such outline on the Shroud. In fact, researchers, over the years, have noted this lack of outline because it is something that an artist, had an artist created the Shroud, would have certainly included. Interestingly, the areas of the lower neck and upper shoulders, though darker than the background, don’t recede into the background and don’t show detached movement. Most amazingly, the lower part of a prominent water stain above the face is now worn in the hair like a miniature yarmulke while the upper part of the stain adorns the background. This, to my way of thinking, strongly suggests the use of false outlines. What other reason can there be other than to enhance the 3D effect?

The most surprising thing is that the grayscale tones that to the untrained eye look like highlights and shadows, but that in fact become the basis for plotting three-dimensionality, remain in place in the plotted image. If you plot a three-dimensional object from the grayscale density you should have something that looks like a stone statue. Whatever highlights and shadows seem to exist in any resulting computerized virtual-reality image should only be from artificially introduced light placed at a calculated angle and distance in the virtual world. This is what the VP8 Analyzer does and what other software packages such as POV-Ray do. But in the anaglyph in question, it looks as though the original image was stretched like a thin film over the calculated shape. Original highlights, shadows and even herringbone twill patterns are there.

I’m willing to be convinced that I am wrong, that the anaglyph in question is scientific. I would actually like this. If this were so we would have something that is truly amazing. Clarity is needed, however. Specifics are required. I would like to see how much of this conversion to 3D is reproducible in a scientific sense and how much is "only softening the ‘holes’ and deformities."

In order to claim that the 3D images on this site are scientific the steps and procedures must be reproducible by others, at least in theory. Documentation is needed.

  1. We should know the software or algorithm used to plot the image including any variables or settings used.
  2. The terminology “hidden scientific information” should be clarified. It is essential to understand how plotting software uses this data.
  3. Expose higher resolution images for examination if the work was done in higher resolution. While this image may be 800 pixels wide, the resolution is no better than 72 ppi. Ordinary books carry pictures at four times the number of pixels per inch.
  4. We should be able to see, in anaglyph form for comparison, the unadjusted, scientifically plotted part of the project so that we can judge for ourselves just how much of the final product is by way of adjustment.
  5. All adjustments made should be explained and justified.

It bothers me to think that these images will be used, as the pastor suggests, in presentations to show the 3D characteristics of the Shroud. These images are certainly being displayed in churches, in exhibits and on the internet without the qualification that this is art and not science. If that is so, it is most unfortunate.

On the other hand, if these images are truly scientific, then the unexplained screams out to be explained.

Don’t get me wrong. There is 3D data in the Shroud’s images. It is the most important quality for knowing that these are not images formed by reflected light as a painter would envision or a camera would capture a human form. The 3D data is a quality that must be accounted for in any hypothesis attempting to explain how the images were formed, be it miraculously, naturally, by fakery or even as honest art. Indeed, this quality, treated scientifically without various forms of electronic manipulation, sooner or later, may suggest how the images were formed.

30 thoughts on “I certainly have real reservations about Petrus Soons’ 3D work. Any comments now?”

  1. My children have 3D glasses and after borrowing the glasses from them I have had a look at the photo provided by Dan.
    I share the 5 difficulties by Dan but in my view, there is a very strong objection missing: what original image have they used?. Is it freely available for reproduction of results? Is its origin traceable?
    However, I have found a few curious things, although I don’t know to which extent are the product of image treatment or truly are present in the image and the autors have only made them more evident:

    1. Carlos Otal, in the past, has commented in this blog the point that the distance between the eyes is too small for a human being. Looking at the image, now this looks more evident and I am more inclined now to admitting the explanation given by him to this fact, e.g., that the image has a preferential vertical direction and is truly anisotropic.
    2. Having a look at each eye, the claim that coins are present cannot be held anymore
    3. The same with the flowers around the head.
    4. However, in the neck three hebrew letters seem to appear in white profile from left to right; lamed (or perhaps mem), ayin and a final tzade

  2. Dr. Soons took the 3D data from the Shroud image and created this 3D model, including a full sized hologram and a 24-layer lenticular which all show an amazing level of detail never before seen. That said, your questions are good and ought to be put to Dr. Soons so he can explain precisely how it was made and what he did and did not do. To this point unless proven otherwise, Dr. Soons’ work is not art, but represents the 3D data encoded on the Shroud so one can see it in vertical relief.

    I wish he would have used an image different from this image because Enrie used pushed contrast which actually changed the pixels so that he ended up changing the midrange pixels to either black or white. While this enhances the image, using your logic, Dan, is this justified? Why would Enrie need to create a pushed contrast image in the first place? I think it’s obvious he wanted to get a better, clearer image. In doing this, he actually distorted the image. I would love for Dr. Soons to use a Schwortz image.

  3. It is easy to observe the full stereovision effect of the Shroud 3D video (with the two pictures side by side), by holding a piece of paper (A4 if you’re British) vertically against the divide between the two, and putting your face to the paper so that each eye can only see its own version. Allow your eyes to let the two images merge into one, and there you go. It’s a clever effect, and only slightly marred by being completely inhuman. The moustache seem to jut bizarrely forward, the eyes are too deeply sunk, and the neck appears to have been carved away to nothing. The whole of the right side (the image’s right, that is) of the face below the cheek bone seems hollow as the man turns his head to the left (his left), and the beard seems to be hanging in space in front of the rest of the face.

    For this reason, surprisingly, I believe the ‘model’ upon which the familiar picture has been superimposed, has not been fiddled about with to make it more acceptable. However, I do understand that a ‘model’ has to be made. Simply taking the photo by itself results in all sorts of bizarre ridges and furrows created by the weave. These have to be smoothed out, to give a rather dull uniform grey computer ‘model’ (with extremely odd proportions) which can be artificially lit from various directions. The photo is then retrofitted back onto the model. That is why a relatively uniform surface , such as the cheeks, can be covered in such a wide range of greys, which if they really represent distance should cover it in pimples and pocks.

    The good old VP8 image analyzer photo shows what happens if you take the image ‘as is.’
    (Incidentally, what happened to that machine? Was it ever used for anything else?). The analyzer used an absolute scale of brightness (as, perhaps, did Soons), which had the effect of envisioning the shroud as completely horizontal above the ‘body’ which created the image, whereas later versions have assumed that the shroud was draped. This means that the grey scale has to be ‘interpreted,’ as areas which could have different contours on the body would show up with the same brightness on the shroud, and vice versa. Most of the interpretations I have seen of this are highly subjective, and my own view is that the ‘horizontal’ interpretation produces better 3D results.

    Perhaps also surprisingly to anybody who hasn’t tried it, but this effect is not peculiar to the shroud, nor does it prove that the shroud is not a painting or drawing. (Other things may prove that, but the 3D effect does not.) You need a picture of a person with ‘face on’ lighting against a black background. Photoshop and similar programs have a ‘bas relief’ filter and an ’emboss’ filter, which emulate the VP8 in slightly different ways. With a little parameter adjustment it is possible to get images at least as accurate as the shroud, and sometimes a good deal more so.

  4. Several decades ago I used overlapping stereo pairs from aerial photography to assist in planning a major railroad realignment which was to cross several gorges. Viewing these stereos gave the effect of being suspended several hundred feet above the terrain, and could almost be vertigo inducing. The effect works by parallax, photographs of the same terrain viewed from different positions along the flight path. Each eye views a single photograph, and the brain does the rest giving a visual 3-D impression. Binoculars create s similar effect on real 3D objects by a virtual stretching of the base-line between the eyes.

    The 3D imaging of the VP-8 analyser seems to work in a different way. There is only one original image, but as I understand it, the 3D is encoded by variations in brightness. It would seem that the 3D holograms of the VP8 Shroud image have been somehow backwards coded to give the two stereoscopic pairs necessary to create the effect when the two related images are viewed. One question might be how well the two stereoscopic pairs have been derived from the original hologram object. This might account for some of the peculiarities reported in the comments.

    I endeavoured to follow Hugh’s tip on using an A4 cardboard sheet, but did not succeed. I guess my vision might not now be what it once was, with or without spectacles. I’ll see if I can pick up some 3D glasses locally, and try it again.

    1. Some years ago there was a craze for autostereograms which were pictures with hidden 3D information hidden in the pattern. Nothing at all like the shroud, but they did give us a lot of practice in focussing two separate images on top of each other. I use reading glasses, and find that for Soons’s images I need a distance from the screen of about 30cm, with the pictures about 6cm high, for my A4 paper thing to work. Any bigger and I can’t get them to merge, and any closer and they’re too blurred for my eyes, even with glasses!
      To make his images, I imagine Soons could use something like the ‘trace contour’ function on Photoshop to make a ‘contour map’ of the shroud based entirely on differences in grey, and then using the contours make a virtual 3D image using 3D landscape modelling software. All the different 3D views could easily be derived from that.

  5. Hugh ~ Pete Schumacher who open the Shroud Exhibit and Museum (SEAM) in Alamogordo, NM has some of the remaining working VP8s and he has done research work with Dr. Petrus Soons over the past couple years. According to Dr. Soons and Pete, his 3D is not artwork, but a visual display of the brightness encoding on the Shroud similar to what the VP8 does. This museum is one of the only places in the world where one can come in and interact with the VP8. I am the webmaster for the SEAM online presence.

    1. ” According to Dr. Soons and Pete, his 3D is not artwork, but a visual display of the brightness encoding on the Shroud similar to what the VP8 does.”

      I don’t think so. 3D on the shroud has no outline. VP8 data show a shape looking like a bas relief.

      You can get something closer to a real human shape if you assume the shroud was wrapped around the corpse and take into account local cloth-corpse configuration, image formation mechanism, variegated pattern of the shroud itself, but you won’t get outlines.

      1. The VP8 yields an image based on brightness encoding. No matter what it looks like, the result is not art but a brightness map.

        Dr. Soons accounted for the cloth wrapping the victim on the Shroud so you end of up seeing the brightness data that is there in vertical relief, 3D just like the VP8.

      2. It doesn’t look like the vp8.
        Dr Soons’ 3D requires asumptions, extrapolations and even imagination (arms) to fill the gaps, create an outline, smooth the surface, create a volume and lay a flat greyscale skin on it.
        There are so many arbitrary parameters that it is no longer science but artwork whereas VP8 is basic, direct but scientific.

        When Dr Jackson presented a more realistic 3D image, he described clearly his assumptions.

    2. Hi Andy, you wrote:

      “Dr. Soons accounted for the cloth wrapping the victim on the Shroud so you end of up seeing the brightness data that is there in vertical relief, 3D just like the VP8.”

      Could you point out the document that states that fact, that is, “accounted for the cloth wrapping”? Thanks. I could not find a clear description of taking into account the cloth wrapping on his website.

      I made a 3D anaglyph at (can be seen at http://www.sindonology.org) not doing any transformation on the Enrie photograph (in particular no depth map was created by hand). The result shows clear 3D property but not as much as the ones created by Petrus Soons. So he must have done many transformations to obtain his 3D anaglyph. But so far I could not find a clear description of what he did, in particular how he generated the depth map.

      Mario Latendresse

  6. Gabriel, basing your opinion on Petrus Soons’ 3D work, you wrote as if it were a fact: “Having a look at each eye, the claim that coins are present cannot be held anymore”.

    Now such an opinion is totally inconsistent as:

    – you haven’t make it quite clear whether you hold Petrus’ holographic images to be art or scientific work…

    – Petrus himself thinks his holograms support the presence of two small coins placed over the eyes…

    1. Petrus Soons wrote: “In the holograms we can clearly see the presence of TWO SMALL SOLD OBJECTS on top of the eyelids. There were however no more details visible on the surface.”

    1. Max, I do not have any proof to say whether it is an artwork or a true reconstruction. In the absence of any original picture available or a comprehensive description of the whole process, I was just playing the game “I think I see”. I know he sees flowers and coins. I don’t. I know he sees hebrew letters in the neck. I see “other hebrew letters”. Perhaps, as my children say, the 3d glasses I borrowed from them “are magic”:-)) and in the absence of traceable and scientifically solid methods, I also have the right to play the same game…..Humm.. At this point, I have started thinking that these glasses are really magic.

      1. The fact is you’re just playing the game ‘I don’t think I see”/”I think I don’t see” (not “I think I see”)

      2. …which means you may be either right or wrong or half right-half wrong…
        The fact is by just “having a look at each eye” to infer “the claim that coins are present cannot be held anymore” is mere jumping to conclusion. All the more so when a physicist like Jackson and at least three outsanding medical forensics also detected somehow rounded solid objects placed over each eyelid.

      3. The true fact is both negative and positive sight & brain misperceptions can be mistaken for magic…

  7. Reminder: Even if Petrus made the 3D photos from Enrie photograph of the face, still the fact remains that information was lost as he had to minimize to invisibility weave appearance in general. Since the weave pattern was thus made more than “very subtle”, it might well have caused the already faint floral and coin patterns hardly standing out on the Shroud fabric to technically disappear from the hologram.

  8. I think the Shroud image is unique in terms of 3D data it encodes. You can certainly create a 3D anaglyph version of the black and white negative Shroud image (the Enrie version at least) in a way that is very easy (just two “composite” commands) and unique (no need to create a depth map by hand, only the Enrie negative photograph is used as input). The Shroud Scope has now a 3D anaglyph version of the Enrie (vertical) photograph (see http://www.sindonology.org/shroudScope/shroudScope.shtml?zl=7&image=7&lon=909&lat=3605) and the way it was created is described at http://www.sindonology.org/shroudScope/shroudScopeHelp.shtml#3D.

  9. The Shroud is a code cunstruction set, nou doubt about it, and this photograph is a flat produced image by Bernardo Galmarini. Ray Downing is the only one who made it by numbers and is a expert.

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