Adam Thurlow

Photography & The Tilt-Shift Effect

Nov. 09, 2009 - Posted by Thurloat

On a regular basis I find myself looking at something and thinking "damnit, I wish i could keep this"... often times what I'm seeing in my head isn't really what would be captured on film, my imagination is often much less literal. That has been one of Photography's biggest turn-offs for me in the past and hopefully this is where capturing and editing skills from a few of my friends will keep me motivated!

In my Photography & Lightroom corner, I have Ian Munroe. Ian is doing a lot of over time getting my technical photography skills up to par. Anything from helping to fix my over-zealous white balance settings, to being my personal Wikipedia for technical knowledge, he's been right there. He's also helping to keep me inspired with constant feedback on what I've placed in his DropBox, and donating tips (hard learned, I'm sure.) on using Lightroom to put some finishing touches on my photos. In my Photoshop & Editing corner, is Chris Lowe. I've been working with Chris at Norex for 6 months or so now, and he's been helping me out a lot with any Photoshop and design related questions I might have. I'm especially keen on learning editing techniques that will help me try and transfer my vision into something solid.

With all this help, I'm sure that I'll be able to do some transferring of vision; That's what I like to call it anyway. So I've been playing around with Photography more and more since I've inherited my Father's Canon Digital Rebel XTi. I'll say that I'm having more fun than ever. With the tips and tricks from my teachers it's really helping me to get it on track. This week's experiment for me is the Tilt / Shift Effect.

mini cars by Thurloat, on Flickr

With this example, I took a little extra time to mask out the taller items, so they didn't blur out like the rest of the background, since it's based on a z-index depth of field, items in that space need to remain with the same amount of focus. If you'd like to try this out yourself, here's the basic deal:

  1. Snap a photo: for a better effect, try to look down at about 45 degrees.
  2. Open your new photo in Photoshop.
  3. Create a hue/saturation adjustment layer & crank up the saturation. This will help to harden the shadows and make it seem as if the light is a lot closer, as if your scene is within a diorama.
  4. Give your scene a layer mask and use the reflection gradient to draw a line through the focal point.
  5. Disable the layer mask, select your scene and goto Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur...
  6. crank the radius up and tell it to use your layer mask for the blur.
  7. viola. you have a mini scene.

This is obviously a simplified set of steps, to complicate it further you could adjust the light levels and draw your layer mask by hand, to make sure you're not blurring things close that are in focus, but are also tall. So I'm going to be keeping up with this whole photography thing for the next little while and you should see a lot more posts of this sort, if I can teach something while I'm learning -- Hurray for us!