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Tilt-Shift: Leave it to the experts.

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I first ran into this tilt-shift effect in Harper’s Magazine a few years ago. You make a regular photograph look like a photo of small things taken by a macro lens. This is done by messing with the “focus” of the photo. Done right, the subject looks like an impossibly elaborate model.

I like that this is playing with assumptions that are built on artifacts of a technology. If macro lens users could have avoided it, they wouldn’t have so much of the photo out of focus. But they must, so they learn to use it to their advantage and we, the audience, grow to understand the fuzziness of macro shots as part of our shared visual language. And then Photoshop turns all that upside-down. Sweet.

Vincent Lafloret has my favorite example of this:

If I was better at model building, I’d do a series of photograph pairs, one of something real, post-processed with this tilt-shift effect, paired with a photo of a model with a macro lens.

Instead, thanks to, I started playing with the treatment with some photos I’d already taken.

So this photo from inside the Basilica in Montserrat:

Becomes this:

I know, I’m disappointed, too. But let’s press on. How about this shot of towers in Vancouver?

Nope. Here’s a photo from the Old Post Office Tower:

Best so far, actually. Not half bad. A shot from the roof of a house in Shaw:

What am I doing wrong here? I’d think that last photo would be purpose-built for tiltshifting…

To rub it in, Smashing Magazine shows us how the tilt-shift professionals do it.

Written by gunnar

January 11th, 2009 at 4:48 am

One Response to 'Tilt-Shift: Leave it to the experts.'

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  1. Hi, Gunnar! Evan sent me here…we’ve talked about the tilt-shift thing before.

    I saw a photo show at the met earlier this year that had some tilt-shift, and a side-by-side model/tilt-shift comparison would have been perfect, seeing as though it was themed ‘truth and illusion in american photography.’ there are still shots up online, the best part of the show was the explanations of how all the photos were fakes, in one way or another.{03790C8D-C3B4-4405-8183-F85FBA3E10F6}


    12 Jul 09 at 10:25 am

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