Tilt-shift photography

Tilt-shift photography is fascinating, and can be used as an easy way to fake miniatures. Tilt-shift lenses let you focus on a single part of the photo (tilt), while other parts are blurred (shifted) out. This creates an optical illusion which makes the photo look like a miniature model. It works especially well when you photograph scenes from above the ground, with people, buildings or other man-made objects. The outer edges of the image is blurred, so that the eye is fooled into believing that the part in focus is a miniature.

The good news is that you don’t actually need a tilt-shift lens to get the effect. The same principle can be added in Photoshop/GIMP. In Photoshop do the following:

  • Use the quick mask mode and select gradient tool
  • Select “reflected gradient”
  • Draw a vertical line from where you want the focus to the top of the image
  • Go back to “standard mask mode”
  • Use the filter gaussian blur (or lens blur if you don’t have PS 7)
  • Experiment with the radius and the amount of blur
  • Saturate the image to get more colours

Or, if you want a quick and easy way to create tilt-shift, go to http://tiltshiftmaker.com/. The results you get there are actually quite good, though it is easier to get a more precise focus using Photoshop/GIMP.


yay-46794 - originalOriginal image by iofoto

yay-46794-tiltshiftTilt-shifted image

We also have some tilt-shift images from our photographers. Both leaf and shalamov have a couple of tilt-shifted images.

The same technique can also be used for videos. Check out Keith Loutits website, he’s a man that pushes tilt-shift videos to the limit.

Happy tilt-shifting!


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