Think back to when you were a kid and you’d watch the beginning of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Remember how the camera would glide in from the tree tops and give you a birds-eye view of that idealized little town where Mr. Rogers lived? Tilt Shift photography is similar in that you can manipulate still photos (and movies) to essentially achieve the same effect. All you needed is a camera and a image editing program and you can be well on your way to creating some uniquely fun images.
I first heard rumblings of tilt shift photography on flickr. They have a Tilt Shift Group Pool dedicated to miniature fakes. It’s definitely worth a look so check it out. Everyone is welcome to upload one of their creations for public consumption. All you have to do is join.
So, what is tilt shift? It refers to the type of lens that allows the photographer to focus on a specific area of a photo and then shift (blur) everything around it to create the illusion of a miniaturized world.
Most faked tilt shift photographs are taken from a high angle to further simulate the effect of looking down on a miniature. The technique is particularly effective on buildings, cars, trains and people. To achieve the angle I wanted for my first tilt shift photo shoot, I took the elevator up to the 20th floor of Skyscape, which overlooks the NW side of the city and provides some pretty decent views.
In addition to focus manipulation, the tilt shift photography effect is improved by increasing color saturation and contrast, to simulate the bright paint often found on scale models.
A cool benefit of discovering a new photo technique is that you can now dig up all your old vacation photos and repurpose them. Here are a few from my rafting trip down the Grand Canyon last June.