Tilt-Shift Photography

If you’ve ever seen a photograph where the entire image looks like a model toy set and only a small region is actually in focus, then you’ve seen tilt-shift photography. Tilt-shift photography is a particular technique of photography wherein an image is captured in such a way that it looks like it is a model. The human eye is tricked into assuming that the subject of the image is much smaller than it really it is. The exact definition, according to Wikipedia is:

Tilt–shift photography is the use of camera movements on small- and medium-format cameras, and sometimes specifically refers to the use of tilt for selective focus, often for simulating a miniature scene. Sometimes the term is used when the shallow depth of field is simulated with digital post-processing; the name may derive from the tilt–shift lens normally required when the effect is produced optically.

“Tilt–shift” encompasses two different types of movements: rotation of the lens plane relative to the image plane, called tilt, and movement of the lens parallel to the image plane, called shift. Tilt is used to control the orientation of the plane of focus (PoF), and hence the part of an image that appears sharp; it makes use of the Scheimpflug principle. Shift is used to adjust the position of the subject in the image area without moving the camera back; this is often helpful in avoiding the convergence of parallel lines, as when photographing tall buildings.

Tilt-shifting in photography generally requires using a special lens that is capable of creating the effect. However, with the advent of Photoshop, this effect can be achieved through careful photo-editing as well.

Have you ever tried this particular type of photography? If so, how did you achieve your results? Through a lens or through editing the images? Feel free to share your favorite tilt-shifted images (with credit to the photographer, of course) in the comments below!

— da Bird

Image by Lachlan Sear