Tilt Shift Photography Tutorial and Showcase
Written 8 years ago by Mark Evans
Contrary to popular belief, tilt shifting is actually not the process of making a scene look like it is miniature. This is only one of a few effects that can be produced by using a tilt shift lens, which actually has some practical applications other than producing cool mini worlds.
Tilt-shift usually refers to the tilting of the lens, relative to the film, or sensor, while using a large aperture to produce a very shallow depth of field. In other words, the lens can be tilted such that, only a small portion of the image is in sharp focus. Usually the lens rotates, which is called Tilt and can also move parallel to the film or sensor, which is called Shift.
Shift is used to alter the perspective of an image, and is frequently used in architectural photography to correct ‘converging lines’ (try looking up at a tall building and you’ll see the sides converging together into the distance) so that buildings look more upright. In fact there are many other applications that use Tilt-shifting for aspects other than making a scene look like it is miniature. Although, that one particular effect is what has made Tilt-Shifting so prominent in todays photography, and who wouldn’t love to feel like a God and create their own little world!
Tilt Shift Photography: Miniatures
Tilt Shift Photography: Architecture
Faking Tilt Shift Photographs in Photoshop
Do you want to know how to create your own miniaturisation in Photoshop? Here’s a quick and easy tutorial explaining how to do that.
Open your image in Photoshop. Some images work better than others here. Generally, images that look down on a scene from a height work better, because it gives the viewer the feeling of looking down onto a created model, which is a good starting point for the effect we want to achieve.
Select Quick Mask Mode by pressing Q on your keyboard and select the Gradient tool. Make sure your settings are the same as here:
In particular, make sure the ‘Reflected Gradient’ is selected.
Now draw out a vertical line for the width of your gradient. You may have to experiment a bit here to get it right, or you could try a gradient on angle for a different effect. This area should turn red, and this will be the part of your image that is in focus.
Hit Q to exit quick mask mode. Now two areas should be selected on your image. These will be the areas that we are going to blur. Click on Filter->Blur->Lens Blur. Make sure ‘Invert’ is NOT ticked and that your settings are similar to this:
Increasing the radius setting increases the blur, tweak it until you are happy and click OK.
Now let’s get rid of those selection areas by pressing Ctrl-D. At this point your image should be looking vaguely like a miniature world, but I usually find that adding a Contrast layer and increasing the contrast makes it look better. You can also try adding a Saturation layer and increasing the Saturation. After adding these layers and tweaking the settings a bit you should have your very own mini world!
Here’s a tip for you – Try miniaturising your own home by finding it on Multimap, and clicking on the ‘Birds Eye’ button, which gives a nice perspective for miniaturising your house. Turn off road labels, take a screen-shot, paste into Photoshop, follow the instructions above from step 1, then when your miniature is finished, send it to us and we’ll showcase the best of them!
Taking Tilt Shift Photographs Without Cheating
Real Tilt-Shift photography requires, not surprisingly,Ã‚ a Tilt-Shift Lens.Ã‚ Nikon produced the very first Tilt-Shift lens in 1961 and is still a major player in todays market, along with Canon, which produces TS-E 24mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses, and Nikon producing its ‘Perspective Control’ lenses at 24mm, 45mm, and 85mm.
Using these lenses are pretty straight forward, all you need to know is what effect you want; use the lens’ Tilt function and large aperture to get a very small area in focus for creative shots, or alternatively if you’re photographing trees, or buildings or anything tall that you have to angle your camera up at to get in the frame, make use of the lenses Shift feature to bring the perspective back into line and have the subject looking upright and not like its about to fall over! Granted, these lenses are definitely not cheap, but if you’re into photographing buildings, getting creative with your focus/creating miniature scenes, or just serious about getting your perspective right, then a Tilt-Shift lens is for you.
Buy Tilt Shift Lenses
- Canon TSE2435L 24mm f/3.5 Tilt & Shift Lens – Filter Size – 72mm
- Canon TSE4528 45mm f/2.8 Tilt & Shift Lens
- Canon TSE9028 90mm f/2.8 Tilt & Shift Lens – Filter Size – 58mm