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Tilt shift photography, also known as ‘miniature faking’, is a unique genre that stands out from almost any other due to its eccentric quirkiness, versatility and practical professional functionality.
Tilt shift photographers can create photos that look as if they were tiny miniature models! A tilt shift photograph looks like a highly detailed hand made model and it usually focuses on buildings and landscapes although any subject can be used.
Tilt photography is also frequently used in professional architecture photography to straighten lines that have been distorted by a traditional camera lens and can be used to photo tall buildings without having the feeling of the upward perspective that you get by standing right under the building.
This kind of selective use of focus, either with a specially designed tilt shift lens, or by using post production software, can create some incredible effects!
What Makes a Good Candidate for a Tilt Shift Miniature Photo?
Not all photos make top quality tilt shift images and there are some factors that you need to remember and incorporate in your work to ensure that you can create some excellent compositions.
- Firstly, and possibly most importantly, you will need to take the photograph from above, although not overhead. If you try to use a shot that is taken from directly overhead you won’t be able to achieve the necessary depth of field for the tilt shift photo to work. You can use a drone to get a great overhead angle or else you will have to position yourself physically at an overlooking high vantage point. You can achieve this by shooting from a tall building, from the stadium of a sporting event or, as mentioned, by using a drone.
- Usually a fairly simple scene makes the best tilt shift photos. If you’re creating a miniature scene then over complicating it will take away from the final product. However, despite this you are still able to get far more detail into the image than any model maker could achieve!
- Make sure the photo’s sharpness is crystal clear and has no shakes in it all. You will need to use excellent lighting in the photo so avoid dimly lit situations. Remember you can add blurs to the image later in post production or in real time by using a tilt shift lens to take the photo.
- If there are a lot of people in the scene make sure you keep them small. You don’t want to zoom in on the scene too much because that would take away from the feeling of it being a tiny model! In a model the people in the scene are usually quite obscure so they don’t distract the viewer’s attention away from the overall composition.
Why Use Tilt Shift Photography?
There are many ways that a tilt shift lens can be extremely useful and it’s not just for creating miniatures, although this is really booming in popularity at the moment.
Among the professional uses of tilt shift photography, it is regularly used for product photography because the technique allows you to create very precise areas of focus within the image. This lets you focus on the product, for example, while keeping areas of the background blurred to draw the eye of the viewer to the exact points of the photo that you want.
A tilt shift lens can also be used to take photos of paintings, or other fine art. It has the ability to keep the entire painting looking flat and correct misleading perspectives. This means your photos of the artwork come out as the painting was intended to, without having the usual perspectives that you might get with a traditional camera lens.
Tilt shift photography is also used in architectural images because it allows the photographer to correct distorted perspective and straighten converging lines to give a more accurate impression of the structure in question.
How Do You Do Tilt Shift Photography?
You can either do tilt shift photography by using a specialized camera lens, known as a tilt shift lens, or alternatively by using post production software to achieve similar results. The introduction of software that can imitate the effects of a tilt shift lens has increased the affordability of these techniques and opened up a world of new possibilities for creatives everywhere.
Remember, if you’re planning to use a software program to imitate the tilt shift lens effect then you’ll need to use a deep depth of field. Without doing this the software will not be able to recreate the tilt shift look. A good aperture to use to create the necessary depth of field for the post production software is between f/11 and f/22.
There are also free to join, online software platforms that allow you to create tilt shift photography although the results will not be quite as good as if you use a proper lens or high quality paid software, such as Photoshop. Nonetheless, it can be a fun way to dip your toe into the genre.
What is a Tilt Shift Lens?
A tilt shift lens is different to a regular lens and can create very different perspectives and depth of field. A traditional camera lens takes a photo of a circular image that is then transposed onto the square image sensor in the camera. This is known as the lens imaging circle. When you use a regular lens the positions of the imaging circle and the square image sensor are fixed.
A tilt shift lens has the ability to shift or tilt the imaging circle in relation to the fixed image sensor. This gives the photographer a whole range of new possibilities that would be impossible to achieve otherwise.
When you shift the imaging circle you can make lines that converge in the background straighten out, you can fix perspectives that make walls, for example, appear to be crooked so that they look straight. This is very useful in architectural photography.
A Brief Run Down of the Pros and Cons of the Tilt Shift Lens.
- Amazing creative possibilities open up with a tilt shift lens.
- You can shift the lens to correct perspectives and achieve unique effects.
- Modern lenses have the capacity for rotation as well as shift and tilt.
- Can be quite expensive to buy a lens.
- Harder to learn to use a tilt shift lens than most other types.
- Requires manual focus.
Choose a Powerful and Eye-Catching Subject that Stands Out.
Selecting a strong subject will give your tilt shift photos a professional look. If you’re taking architectural photos then try to find buildings with intricate details, facades and features. For example, an old cathedral or state monument will come out better than a local supermarket! The spire and roofing will add to the details of the building’s facade.
It’s Generally Advisable to Use a Tripod for Tilt Shift Photography.
It can be very difficult to produce a sharp tilt shift photo without the use of a tripod to give you the rock solid stability that you need. There’s a good range of tripods available so you can choose to use a lightweight one that is easy to transport, or if you’re working from your studio, on product photography for example, then a heavier model will work better for you.
Tilt Shift Photography Offers You A World Of Creative Potentials.
There are few genres of photography that are as diverse and interesting to study than tilt shift work. From fascinating miniature shots that resemble tiny handmade models to world class product and architectural photography, the tilt shift lens is a vital tool for freelancers.
The advancements in post production software has brought down the price and opened up this technique to a whole new group of people. If you haven’t tried it yet then it might be time to take the leap and give tilt shift photography a try, whether it’s with a lens or using easily affordable software such as Photoshop.
However, despite the benefits of using post production software you’ll never be able to achieve the authentic results that you can capture with a tilt shift lens; and so if it’s something that interests you, a good lens is the only way to fully explore this fascinating genre.
Do you have any interest in tilt shift photography?
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