Flickr Friday: Tilt-Shift Photography


This week on Flickr, I’ve been browsing photographers’ tilt-shift images (I think the “fake miniature” effect is really neat). And above is my first attempt at trying to create a tilt-shift image using Adobe Photoshop and a few simple steps (which I’ll explain below).

What is tilt-shift photography?

Tilt-shift photography is exactly that. It’s the technique of tilting the lens relative to the camera to create interesting focal points (“sweet spots”) and depths of field. However, most people don’t have cameras with bellows, and unless you’re lucky enough to have a real view camera (or a cool Lensbaby) that allows you to move the lens independently of the camera body, tilt-shifting is best achieved with the help of photo-editing software (like my beloved Photoshop).

Tilt-shifting may be used by a photographer to draw the viewer’s eye to a certain area of an image. And it is used in “miniature faking”—manipulating the photo so that the photo’s location looks like it is actually a model.

There are loads of tilt-shifted, fake model photos on Flickr. Below are some of my tilt-shift faves from around Flickr:

1. Construction site miniature, 2. fake model quito 2, 3. Mini Ulm, 4. Experiment 2 : Deck-chairs on the beach, 5. my own little Vernazza, 6. Model Homes

How to Fake a Tilt-Shift Photo

It’s so easy. Really, I promise. After looking at all the awesome tilt-shifted images on Flickr, I thought the technique for creating this effect was going to be difficult. But in fact, it’s one of the simplest post-processing processes I’ve learned. It only takes 10 steps! Below is a quick breakdown of the steps, adapted from the Tilt-Shift Photography Photoshop Tutorial.

  1. Choose the image you want to tilt-shift. I’d recommend a shot that shows more of a bird’s eye view of a location. Wide shots, cityscapes, and landscapes are excellent.
  2. Open the image in Photoshop.
  3. Press “Q” to get into Quick Mask Mode.
  4. Select the Gradient Tool, and choose the Reflected Gradient Option (it’s the fourth gradient icon from the left).
  5. Draw a vertical line on the photo. The start of the line will be the center of the in-focus area. When you finish drawing the line, you’ll notice a red band that indicates where your area of focus will be.
  6. Press “Q” to exit Quick Mask Mode. You’ll see “marching ants.”
  7. Choose Filter > Blur > Lens Blur. You can play around with the Lens Blur until you get your desired look.
  8. Click OK to get out of the Lens Blur options. Then Deselect to get rid of the ants.
  9. Play with the Hue/Saturation and Curves to get a “fake miniature” look. Most miniatures tend to be bright, so bumping up the saturation a bit will add to the “fake model” effect.
  10. And you’re done!

Now it’s your turn! Find a real scene and make it look fake by using the easy tilt-shift technique you just learned!