Tilt-Shift Photography: Tips to Get You Started

Tilt-shift photography is the art of making—or rather faking—miniature. It gives an effect that looks like the objects in the image have been shrunk to a very small size. In tilt-shift photography, a real world scene is made to look like a miniature version or a model version of it. It is done in two ways. One is using a tilt-shift lens, and the second is by using image editing tools like Photoshop. The lens is an expensive choice for achieving tilt shift photography. Photoshop or sites like tiltshiftmaker.com are great when you want to achieve the effect using image editing. Let’s look at both ways for this trick photography and special effect.

tilt shift image of freeways

The Basics of Tilt-Shift Photography

The tilt-shift lens basically helps you control your plane of focus. The lenses used in tilt shift photography are usually 35mm. Using these lenses, we blur out the unimportant parts of the photo and get the focus on the object we want to highlight. Photographers use this type of photography for food photography, architectural photography, and more recently for portrait photography. You can fake miniatures and can even use it to help pop out your subject in the photo.

So now, how do you do this type of photography? In tilt-shift photography using the lens, you need to change the angle of the lens relative to the focal plane. So essentially you aren’t just blurring the shot, but you are actually selectively focusing on a subject in the image.

tilt shift image of cabins in mountains

Tips for Taking Tilt-Shift Photos

For tilt-shift photography, you need to have the image you want to shrink. So the first step is to take a photo. When taking a photo, you must keep in mind that the photo is taken from above but not directly overhead the scene. This is so that there is a difference in the level of the subject and a decent depth of field is maintained.

Another tilt-shift photography tip is to go with a simple scene. Since it is miniature faking, you need to maintain a model-like feel of the entire scene. Miniature scenes are usually simple, so your scene needs to be a simple one, too. The sharpness and good lighting of the photo is important.

If there are people in your scene, make sure they’re not close up. Models have small, not very well defined people.

The last important tip is to make sure that you avoid wide shots.

tilt shift image of city traffic

Processing a Tilt-Shift Image in Photoshop

The most important thing in processing the photo in tilt-shift photography is to find the point of interest in the photo. You can create a mask and use the gradient tool on the mask to be in focus.

Next, see how the blur gradient should be placed in the photo. Then apply the Lens Blur filter. While doing this, some amount of trial and error will be needed to finally get it right. Once it is fine, you’ll be able to see a miniature fake already.

Now, adjust the master saturation level to about 30 percent. This will help you pop out the colors you want to maximize. In miniature scenes, typically the colors are very bold and saturated, this will help manage that.

Lastly, use the Curves tool to enhance the contrast in the high tonal highlights of the photo.

Tilt-shift photography is a great trick photography and special effect that can be used. It requires a lot of practice and even experienced photographers find it challenging at times. Tilt-shift photography is a unique way to experience photography; whether you use Photoshop or the lens to achieve it, you should give it a try at least once.

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