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November 17, 2008 7:22 AM   Subscribe

50 Beautiful Examples Of Tilt-Shift Photography - "Tilt-shift photography is a creative and unique type of photography in which the camera is manipulated so that a life-sized location or subject looks like a miniature-scale model."
posted by Manhasset (49 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love that effect. I've been dying to get my hands on a tilt-shift lense (and a DSLR...) to try to get a photo from the top of Great St. Mary's in Cambridge. Lenses are apparently going for £600 on eBay, so the odds are small...
posted by djgh at 7:26 AM on November 17, 2008


Wow, stunning! And I'd never heard of this before.
posted by piratebowling at 7:30 AM on November 17, 2008


I love this technique as well. Very neat. Some previous threads on tilt-shift photography and a relevant AskMe.
posted by lysistrata at 7:37 AM on November 17, 2008


If you have Photoshop CS you can fake it djgh. Not quite as awesome as doing it all in-camera, but for those of us who are poor and just want to be able to experiment with the effect, it's a nice option.
posted by quin at 7:40 AM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Tilt-shift photography is used to take pictures of architecture, to get rid of converging lines, etc. You can also use it to take photos like this, but really, it's hard not to come off gimmicky at this point. (That said, Vincent Laforet is freaking awesome.)
posted by chunking express at 7:42 AM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I've got a 24mm tilt-shift. I tried this at the baseball stadium. Nowhere near blurry enough. (if I'd bought the tilt-shift just for that, I'd be really disappointed. Luckily, it was purchased more for the shifting than for tilting.)
posted by notsnot at 7:48 AM on November 17, 2008


The videos on the page (previously on the blue here) are the best to me. Those are just awesome. Also, a tiltshift tag would be good.
posted by cashman at 7:52 AM on November 17, 2008


This is pretty much the coolest thing ever. Thanks OP.
posted by bookwo3107 at 7:52 AM on November 17, 2008


I've photoshoped this a bit when it first hit flickr back 2005. You really need to have the right photographs for it. It works best if you are elevated somehow.
My attempts:
Birmingham Long Boats
Stratford Long Boats
Toronto Eaton Center

For the hell of it I tried with a lower perspective:
Ottawa Canal Locks
posted by srboisvert at 7:58 AM on November 17, 2008


I immediately went to Google to look up how much it'd run me for a tilt/shift lens for my DSLR.

Ugh.
posted by kbanas at 8:00 AM on November 17, 2008


I'm tired of tilt-shift. There, I said it.

Now that they've mastered the art of exaggerating narrow depths of field, I'd like to see somebody use tilt-shift setups to experiment with perspective and vanishing points in some other way.
posted by ardgedee at 8:04 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd like to see something else from tilt-shift too. I'm not a photography buff (or even an informed n00b) but it seems like the reverse effect would be even cooler.

Just working from first principles here, but I think what tilt-shift must be doing is working on a percentage basis. Like, if your focal depth is 20 ft, then stuff at 19 or 21 ft would still be in focus because that's not a big percentage change. But when your depth is 2 inches, then 1 inch or 3 inches is a huge change. So when you take a picture of a model that's 6 inches deep, only a small slice of it is in focus.

So here's my ultra-naive idea:

1) Create a tiny model of something awesome.
2) Steady your camera and take a series of pictures, each of which set to a different focal plane.
3) Each picture now has part of the model in focus. Combine these parts into one composite photo.
4) ???
5) DEFEND AGAINST PATENT-INFRINGEMENT LAWSUITS!!!
posted by DU at 8:17 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


They give me vertigo.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:19 AM on November 17, 2008


lalala I'm not listening ardgedee. I have texttiltshifted your reply so that it looks tiny and harmless like a child's plaything.
I'm tired of Tilt-shift. There, I said it.

Now that
they've mastered the art of exaggerating narrow depths of field, I'd like to see somebody use tilt-shift setups to experiment with perspective and vanishing points. in some other way.
posted by cashman at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


These are great! Yet another thing I've never heard of until now, and for the next forty minutes I'm going to be obsessed with and determined to learn more, until I get distracted by another new obsession.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:26 AM on November 17, 2008


What I really want now is a tilt-shifted time lapse video of a steampunk blimp in North Korea.
posted by brownpau at 8:27 AM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


About half of them were great, the other half was Smashing Magazine having to come up with a full 50 because that gets them more links on digg, reddit, mefi, and other blogs. If they were truly interested in quality they would have stopped at 20 or 25 of the best and wouldn't throw in the 10-15 that were just assy "hey I played with the gaussian blur filter on 2/3 of a photograph!" I'm putting "Smashing Magazine" right up there with "Cracked.com presents the top 10 $keyword" desperate diggbait posts that I can ignore from now on.

I hate to be snarky out of the gate but honestly this was one of the lamest galleries of tilt-shift and fake tilt-shift I've seen. The only great photos were ones I've seen 100s of times before on other blogs over the last two years.
posted by mathowie at 8:31 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


NEEDS MOAR FAKE HDR
posted by cellphone at 8:33 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forgive my pedantry, but here's what's happening in those photos:

In a normal camera setup, the plan of focus is parallel to the plan of the sensor/film. (Note that really, the plan of focus is more like a sphere, but here we'll assume that we're dealing with a small enough segment of a sphere that a plane makes a reasonable approximation. Also note that we're assuming wide-open apertures, so the depth of field is minimal.) When you move the focus ring of a lens, the in-focus plane moves closer and farther from the camera, but still parallel to the film plane.

When you *tilt* a lens, though, the focal plane no longer stays parallel. The tilt-plane of the lens, and the film plane make up two sides of a wedge, which meet in a line. That line is the axis about which the focal plane now pivots (instead of sliding in and out.) This is useful in landscape photography: say you want both the flowers in the foreground and the mountains in the background, to be in perfect focus. So you tilt the lens (not the whole camera rig) down. You now have a lens whose plane is leaning forward, and a camera whose film plane is still vertical. Think of it this way: Spread your legs out and hold your arms at your side. The exaggerated dimension you're occupying is the film plane. Now lean forward: this is the lens plane. What didn't move? Right, your feet. Now, the in-focus plane is like pivoting various amounts, about your feet - if you could lean over even more. You can make a plane of focus that is almost horizontal - and it includes both those flowers and that mountain. This is the traditional use for tilting.

COnversely, the effect shown in the FPP is to tilt the lens the other way, so the plane of focus is very, very narrow (in fact, it's leaned back, instead of forward).
posted by notsnot at 8:35 AM on November 17, 2008 [13 favorites]


Funny: I've seen this one before in some Austin group or other I belong to on Flickr. It's a photoshop. I mean, it's still a fairly lovely picture, but pretty clearly faked. Oh! Wait, this one too!

Good tilt shift are not just "blurry at the top, blurry at the bottom". Theres a gradual nature to the "shift" and a geometric skew that happens. There's nothing wrong with photoshopped pictures, even ones that try and synthesize what a camera could do, but whoever compiled these pictures (that are beautiful and that I am glad I saw) is a ninnyhammer.

(FFS, Am I missing something? MANY of these are fakes. Tilt-shift is about manipulating the CAMERA, not the print)
posted by dirtdirt at 8:36 AM on November 17, 2008


Meanwhile, modelers have been striving for the opposite effect for years.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:39 AM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think there should be a rule in Metafilter that there shall be one tiltshift post per month, because it is honestly pretty darn awesome.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:41 AM on November 17, 2008


DU, I think what you're trying to achieve is Focus Stacking; CombineZM is a software package used to merge the pictures.
posted by Akeem at 8:51 AM on November 17, 2008


Ugh... tilt-shift is starting to seriously irritate me. It is such a fad. I look forward to the time when the novelty wears off.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:55 AM on November 17, 2008


Yes, let's combine tilt-shift with HDR and have tilt-shift HDR photos of generic sexy chicks, kitties, macro photos of flowers and maybe the occasional, totally fake photo of an impossible scenario (a la the one i saw in Flickr's "interesting" section with a guy sitting on the wing of a flying plane, looking casual except for the blowing tie; I won't link to it, needs no more PR). Not that I'm against the occasional generic sexy chick or kitties, since I have one, but ...
posted by raysmj at 9:19 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Too weird: I was using photoshop to create this effect last night. It is really easy to achieve the tilt shift look with a regular lens and about 5 minutes in photoshop. Here is the tutorial which taught me how to do it.
posted by wolfewarrior at 9:35 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tilt-shift is the new HDR.
posted by swift at 9:38 AM on November 17, 2008


Tilt-shift is the new steam punk.
posted by dgaicun at 9:45 AM on November 17, 2008


Why does the tilt-shift effect work?

Is it based simply on our learned assumptions about photographs, or is it actually something common to basic human vision?

If you showed a tilt-shift photograph to someone that had never seen another photograph before, would they assume it was an image of something very small?
posted by CaseyB at 9:56 AM on November 17, 2008


Thanks for that link, Kirth Gerson. That is really awesome model photography.
posted by lysistrata at 10:01 AM on November 17, 2008


Can you do this with a lensbaby, or is selective focus different than tilt/shift?

If you can use a lensbaby, then the cost isn't very high.
posted by diogenes at 10:11 AM on November 17, 2008


Thanks for the explanation, notsnot.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:32 AM on November 17, 2008


I'd like to find some examples of tilt-shifted and "ordinary" photographs of the same scene, taken from the same vantage point, to get a feeling for what the differences are.

I'm also curious if the effect would persist in a tilt-shifted video.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2008


SFMOMA has a great video exhibit of Las Vegas right now that includes a film of the city filmed through a tilt-focus lens.
posted by phatkitten at 10:39 AM on November 17, 2008


That video exhibit of Las Vegas is also on one of the Wholphin dvds, although I can't remember which one.
posted by wolfewarrior at 10:41 AM on November 17, 2008


Of course, those who wear glasses can tilt shift their whole freaking world!

(It's fun pretending Manhattan is Lilliput until you walk into a signpost.)
posted by rokusan at 10:43 AM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Photoshopped tiltshift images are lame and tired, real ones rock. What's the difference? It's not about blurring (though it helps), it's about getting rid of convergent lines. Notice how the sumo dohyo and this house look isometric. That's what makes them look tiny. Compare to this bridge and these city blocks. The illusion is a lot weaker because of the strong perspective.
posted by Tom-B at 11:33 AM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Those photos are so enlightening, apparently, that the Internet gods have deemed them forbidden.
posted by raysmj at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2008


Whoops sorry! Hitting return again after the forbidden message sometimes works.
posted by Tom-B at 12:17 PM on November 17, 2008


Is it based simply on our learned assumptions about photographs, or is it actually something common to basic human vision? If you showed a tilt-shift photograph to someone that had never seen another photograph before, would they assume it was an image of something very small?

I don't know if anyone's actually done this, but I think the effect would work. The size of the depth of field for a given aperture is proportional to distance, and it's normal human experience that a forest 500 yards away will have all the trees in focus, whereas when actually inside that forest you can't focus on the tree 3 feet away at the same time as the one 30 feet away.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:17 PM on November 17, 2008


I'm confused. This is billed as "Examples Of Tilt-Shift Photography", but a fair number are photoshops and there's at least one that's actually a collage. I think this list was vetted by the people who checked out Palin for McCain.
posted by dhartung at 12:46 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's normal human experience that a forest 500 yards away will have all the trees in focus, whereas when actually inside that forest you can't focus on the tree 3 feet away at the same time as the one 30 feet away

I'm not sure that's the case. Outside of vision problems, how often do you see anything "out of focus"? Unless you really concentrate on it, everything you see is in focus all the time. I think that someone seeing a photograph for the first time might think that any blurring at all was a strange effect.
posted by CaseyB at 2:19 PM on November 17, 2008


how often do you see anything "out of focus"?

Constantly! Looking through a chain-link fence, for example. Or any time you're looking at something close to your face, everything else is out of focus. Anything not in your depth of field is always out of focus (by definition). You just don't notice it because your eyes have good auto-focus.

Try this: cover one eye, and hold a finger as close to your other eye as you can while still being able to focus on it. While focusing on your finger, try to read text on your monitor. It's impossible. In fact, another finger only a few inches behind the closer finger will also be out of focus. You have to get close to small objects to see them, so you can only focus on a very thin slice of the scene at a time. This is why the tilt-shifted photos look like they're of small objects - your brain thinks you're very close to them.
posted by 0xFCAF at 2:37 PM on November 17, 2008


Tilt-shift is the new HDR.

Ah, but what of tilt-shift HDR? Because I just typed it, it's coming.
posted by zardoz at 3:58 PM on November 17, 2008


Oh, and I have a question. Is a tilt-shift lens even necessary for this? If you have the right photo (and many of those 50 are not the right photo), it's a pretty simple process to run it through Photoshop and get the same effect. Or do you get the same effect? Does the lens really make a big difference?
posted by zardoz at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2008


I'd like to see somebody use tilt-shift setups to experiment with perspective and vanishing points in some other way.

Best examples I've seen. Frankenstein's monster required to make previous shot. Another everything-in-focus example. Tilt-shift is as close as a photographer will ever get to view cameras (where you have to align your film plane as well!) so I'm a big fan.

Nikon recently released a (real) t/s if you're looking for something to get me for Christmas.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:08 PM on November 17, 2008


I'm a bit tired of this technique, too, ("tilt shit" is the pejorative I often hear used) but I was disappointed that David Burnett wasn't on the list. His work from the 2004 Olympics and the 2004 US election sticks out in my mind as the beginning of the recent boom in tilt-shift. It's a shame the pictures aren't bigger on his site. This picture of a gymnast is absolutely beautiful at a decent size. And here's a New York Times article fawning over Burnett's work
posted by msbrauer at 5:25 PM on November 17, 2008


I think some of the bumpers that Williams Street uses on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim employ this technique to recreate various cityscapes in Atlanta. (Examples: 1 2 3)

Thanks for finding more for me to gawk at!
posted by not_on_display at 11:34 PM on November 17, 2008


tilt shift videos of sydney

http://www.vimeo.com/1785993
posted by jannw at 4:51 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


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