Cool wall art: tilt-shift photography!

Tilt-shift is nothing new, but its coolness won’t ever fade if it were up to me. So, what is it, how do you make it, how do you fake it, and how do you get it on your wall? I’m going to answer all of these questions in this article. Send your best tilt-shift photos in for the Photo ContestThe world from above‘ and win an Xpozer 4Pack!

What is tilt-shift?

Tilt-shift is a photography technique that is used to make things look small. And don’t we all love everything small? Puppies, babies, kittens, ah yes, we love everything small! So, what makes something look small? When we photograph something small, we are used to seeing a small depth of field. So that’s what we recreate when we use tilt-shift. We create a small depth of field. This effect makes everything in the photo look like it’s straight from a miniature toy store.

Some examples:

The slides look like they’re just a few inches high. In reality, they are actually quite a few yards high.
These are probably big, strong men, but this photo makes them look like tiny dolls.
Ahh, look at these cute toy houses 🙂

How do you make tilt-shift photos?

Ok, so what if you want to make these photos yourself? For one, you could use a tilt-shift lens. A tilt-shift lens makes it possible to adjust your angle (tilt) or change the position of the lens up or down (shift). The lens can also be turned to shift sideways. The lens can tilt and shift while keeping the camera in its place. It’s used to create razor sharp images by photographing the same area from multiple positions and later on stitching the different photos together.

These lenses are typically used for architectural photography, because these lenses solve all problems with backward leaning buildings. Tilt-shift lenses are also used by landscape photographers, as they let you have more control over what is in focus and what is blurred out.

On top of all that, they can also be used to create these cool miniature-like photos. There are dozens of YouTube videos on how to use tilt-shift lenses for all kinds of purposes. (Uh-oh, there goes your evening :))

The miniature effect is created by following these steps:

  1. Switch your camera to manual mode.
  2. Tilt to change your depth of field.
  3. Use the view finder to zoom in and check if the desired spot is in focus.
  4. Take multiple photos and compare them to see the effects of your tilting movements.
  5. Play with all possibilities the lens has to offer.

How do you fake the tilt-shift effect?

Tilt-shift lenses are expensive. Like a month’s worth of paychecks expensive to some. So, what to do if it doesn’t fit your budget? Just fake it! There’s many ways in which you can fake it by editing your ‘normal’ photo into looking like a tilt-shift photo. A quick guide for Photoshop users:

  1. Choose a photo for which this effect would actually be interesting. This can be tricky, as the effect doesn’t necessarily make sense in all types of photos.
  2. Press Q on your keyboard for Quick Mask mode.
  3. Choose Reflected Gradient in your Gradient menu.
  4. Draw a gradient in the area you want to stay sharp. All else will become blurry.
  5. You’ll see a blurry red area in your photo. If it’s not to your liking, ctrl+z or Cmd+z to try again.
  6. Exit Quick Mask mode by hitting Q again.
  7. In the top menu, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur to create a lens blu effect in your selected area.
  8. A new window will open, play with the sliders and see what happens. Done? Press the OK button in the top right corner of the window. Save the image and you’re done!
With this photo the effect is fun, but doesn’t make anything look miniature. Therefore, I declare this photo not suitable for the tilt-shift effect we’re looking for.

Examples of my more successful attempts:

How do you get a tilt-shift photo on your wall?

Of course, you’ll want to show off your awesome tilt-shift artwork! Make sure your photo is saved in the best quality possible and order it on Xpozer, so you can enjoy it every day!