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Tiny happy people
January 9, 2009 2:45 AM   Subscribe

Make your own tilt-shift photographs. Flickr group of the results. Previously.
posted by WPW (66 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some of these make me feel like I need to crouch because the hallway keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

Others make me feel like I am bending over and squinting at a diorama of miniatures.

My neck is aching just from looking at them.
posted by clearly at 3:47 AM on January 9, 2009


This is awesome! I just made a 25 foot DJing pyramid look like it is 6 inches tall.

Anyone else try this out?
posted by clearly at 3:58 AM on January 9, 2009


You might as well post a link to an "HDR maker" that just takes single jpegs and burns them into cliché shit.

I fucking hate how any novelty will get totally divorced from any decency it once had and become universally abhorrent, to the point where the original use can't be reconciled with the new bullshit:It's the worst of internet photography — a narrow fad, automated in an extremely poor implementation, applied to random subjects, well past its expiration date.
posted by blasdelf at 4:02 AM on January 9, 2009 [33 favorites]


Okay, this is making tilt-shift style images. To make a tilt-shift image, you need a tilt-shift camera. I mean come on this doesn't even look like a tilt-shift photo. The buildings are in-focus behind the bean and get blurrier as they get taller. this image doesn't even make sense as a tilt-shift picture.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another massive failure. The person standing next to the guy is blurry, but the buildings behind him aren't...
posted by delmoi at 4:08 AM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Come on blasdelf - tell us how you really feel.

It's just a novelty web app. It no more contaminates the purity of photography than a James Joyce markov undermines modern literature.
posted by WPW at 4:11 AM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


I prefer this innovative method for digital cameras with replaceable lenses.
posted by spock at 4:11 AM on January 9, 2009


WPW: Come on blasdelf - tell us how you really feel.

It's a terrible implementation of a merely shitty idea.
posted by blasdelf at 4:19 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


The first time I saw tilt-shift effects (here in a previous thread) I was pretty blown away and wanted to see more. But ever since that first batch of photos, everything else has been pretty pretty lackluster to outright bad. It appears to be yet another cool thing watered down by people without the skill set or commitment to do it right.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 4:31 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


i think tilt-shift elvis looks nice.
posted by camdan at 4:33 AM on January 9, 2009


mike hunter is really interesting - dressing people up as army figures and putting doing the tilt shift thing with them.

otherwise thats maybe about it for tilt shift, scheimplflug will be focusing in his grave - but if it helps people get into photography then i think that's a good thing - i remember being in AWE of a guy on the internet who would cross process - i just thought it was the most amazing thing ever - but it got me interested in photography so that was a great thing.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:00 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to build a steampunk cat declawing machine, decorate it with Banksy graffiti and take some pictures using tilt-shift, being sure to HDR them too. I will describe the vague female figure operating the machine as "hot" and also suggest that, since the picture lacks sound, she could well deserve a tazing. I will then post the photo to the Internet.

When MetaFilter finds that photo, the resulting explosion will be larger than if the servers came into contact with anti-matter.
posted by DU at 5:17 AM on January 9, 2009 [13 favorites]


I don't get the hate. Yeah, 95% of these are awful, but so what. It's not like lacking the time and commitment to do this properly is a mortal sin. If you can do it properly, bully for you.

Some of them are compelling. Only certain subjects work properly. Urban settings with people can work. Photos with lots of vertical depth and interesting objects from front to back have potential. Unfortunately I don't have many pictures like that, so I couldn't make any good ones. But this will inspire me to go out and shoot some subjects that will work. That's a good thing.

Check the flickr widget in my profile if you want to see my attempt. It's not great, but it does succeed in looking like a miniature. The fatal flaw is that the brick wall makes the blur transition way too obvious.
posted by diogenes at 5:28 AM on January 9, 2009


"Anyone else try this out?

Yeah, I've just given it a go on a photo of some boats and cottages in Cadgwith, Cornwall.
posted by nthdegx at 5:33 AM on January 9, 2009


This fakey tilt shift doesn't accomplish what I think they're trying to accomplish. It makes it look like the depth of field has been tremendously limited, not miniature.

On preview: Yeah! what blasdelf said. And get off my lawn. And enjoy it for the giggles I guess...
posted by cavalier at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2009


I haven't got the band quite right, as you can see (the bottom of the tree by the cottage in focus) but I definitely think it has potential.
posted by nthdegx at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2009


It makes it look like the depth of field has been tremendously limited, not miniature.

That's true for most of them, but this looks like a miniature to me.
posted by diogenes at 5:39 AM on January 9, 2009


It clearly needs photo with pretty horizontal parallel areas to work well. The Elvis photo is sort of the opposite of that.
posted by nthdegx at 5:46 AM on January 9, 2009


It makes it look like the depth of field has been tremendously limited, not miniature.

True tilt-shift photography also creates the miniature effect by limiting depth of field. It just does it more smoothly and subtly (and not in a band). It's also very expensive.
posted by diogenes at 5:47 AM on January 9, 2009


Flickr comment: "Yeah, I could get used to this. Gotta find some more HDR pics to try this on."

*winces*
posted by oulipian at 5:50 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


True tilt-shift photography also creates the miniature effect by limiting depth of field. It just does it more smoothly and subtly (and not in a band). It's also very expensive.

Lensbaby's create a fake tilt-shift effect, these seem more like a fake lensbaby effect. Lensbabies are more affordable than tilt-shift lenses, and more fun than uploading a photo to this app.
posted by Elmore at 5:58 AM on January 9, 2009


I believe Lensbabies create a real tilt-shift effect. You can actually tilt and shift them. They're less precise and have lower quality than the high-end stuff, but it's a real tilt-shift.

Anyway, you can sign me up with the haters here.
posted by echo target at 6:02 AM on January 9, 2009


Lensbabies are more affordable than tilt-shift lenses, and more fun than uploading a photo to this app.

True, but there's a big difference between spending one or two hundred dollars and spending zero dollars to fart around with an effect.

For the record, a true tilt-shift lens costs over $1,000.
posted by diogenes at 6:03 AM on January 9, 2009


Worthless photo trends are the new worthless photoshop trends.
posted by VulcanMike at 6:13 AM on January 9, 2009


Yeah, and more pictures of Yosemite because they are an insult to the great Ansel Adams. And no more portraits unless they're Irving Penn-Richard Avedon quality.

Elitist snobs.
posted by cogneuro at 6:18 AM on January 9, 2009


ugh. NO MORE PICTURES of Yosemite.
posted by cogneuro at 6:19 AM on January 9, 2009


I dunno. I hope the people slating it are at least trying it out. People not knowing what photos to use isn't a fault of the app, which I admit is very limited. In addition to my earlier observation that tt clearly needs photo with pretty horizontal parallel areas to work well, you really need to be looking up or down at and angle. The ice-skating example is okay, except the the heads of the people a bit nearer the desired depth of field are in focus, while their legs aren't, which isn't really what you want. My Cadgwith photo has a similar problem.

I think with the right photos (and I do think they need to have pretty specific properties, you can get halfway decent results - certainly good enough to have a bit of fun with. It's clearly not a tool for serious photographers.

I've had a bit more of a play with it and I like it. The sea. Rome.
posted by nthdegx at 6:24 AM on January 9, 2009


It's a fun toy, not worth the energy to hate.

I've done some fake tilt shifts in Photoshop, and thought of buying a Lensbaby, but everyone and their dog seems to be using them, which makes it less interesting.

This toy can create some interesting effects with various kinds of photos, but the miniature look can only really be done well with photos taken from a high angle. Here's one of mine that worked pretty well.
Thanks for the link.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:27 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's true for most of them, but this looks like a miniature to me.

Yes! That one was very successful, approaching true tilt shift goodness.

True tilt-shift photography also creates the miniature effect by limiting depth of field. It just does it more smoothly and subtly (and not in a band). It's also very expensive.

Well, yeah.
posted by cavalier at 6:29 AM on January 9, 2009


Hit submit too quick, the point I was making was well it's that... and more, it's not just the DOF.
posted by cavalier at 6:30 AM on January 9, 2009


Yeah a lot of these are terrible, and yes, even up there with Internetified HDR. ::vomits::

I've got only a few that I've done, and I'm mostly ok with them ('cept for the colors in that last one...).

It's a fun concept! I just think if people better understood what they were trying to emulate the results would be a lot less eye-gougingly bad.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 6:34 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just tried one and it looks pretty cool.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zzazazz/3182511800/
posted by zzazazz at 6:46 AM on January 9, 2009


For the record, a true tilt-shift lens costs over $1,000.

Or you could just get a Speed Graphic, for a lot less than that.

It seems to work for David Burnett.
posted by god hates math at 6:54 AM on January 9, 2009


What we really need is a camera that uses UWB Radar to measure the depth at each pixel to create a z-buffer, and then use that to narrow the DOF, rather then a brain-dead gradient through the middle of the image.
posted by delmoi at 6:56 AM on January 9, 2009


The whole thing seems subjective as hell.

I don't consider them to be great art, but I think my mini painted ladies and blanketed Japanese village are adorable...kawaii, even.
posted by squasha at 6:59 AM on January 9, 2009


uhhh...I mean village.
posted by squasha at 7:01 AM on January 9, 2009


Or you could just get a Speed Graphic, for a lot less than that.

Of course the medical bills after your back goes from lugging it around could be considerably higher than the $1,000 for a tilt-shift.
posted by Elmore at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2009


I believe this is what people in the industry call a "blur filter".
posted by demiurge at 7:35 AM on January 9, 2009


This is almost as bad as that "polaroid" maker linked here a while back.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:53 AM on January 9, 2009


Mini-halftime show!
posted by Atreides at 8:01 AM on January 9, 2009


Montreal street, now with more over processed colour.

The hate is weird. This toy shows tilt shift is difficult rather than rendering it easier.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:25 AM on January 9, 2009


Couldn't agree more with blasdelf. Even good tilt-shift photography was pure novelty and entertaining for about 5 minutes, and it's gone way, way downhill from there.
posted by bjrubble at 8:29 AM on January 9, 2009


I would never use a tilt shift lens enough to justify the expense of owning one, so I found this toy a bit fun to play around with. Posted a few on flickr.
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:32 AM on January 9, 2009


Hey, MeFites! A lot of the links you all have posted to photos are pretty dang awesome!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2009


Here's one of my experiments that came out feeling nicely model-railway.

Well, I thought this was going to be fun - finding this, sharing it with Metafilter, comparing results - but it turned out to be quite depressing.

I actually sympathise quite strongly with the "haters" (if we must use that word). I work in a technical profession (journalism) that, the internet consensus seems to have it, can actually be done by anyone with a computer and a little free time. The result seems (to me) to be a colossal boom market in bad journalism and worse writing. Simultaneously, it looks like the business model that supports the OK stuff is being washed away. Journalism and writing are being swept away, undermined, corroded, corrupted - you can pick your own apocalyptic imagery - by a vast army of chattering nitwits churning out dross. They want to do it, they think they can do it, but - what was it? - they lack the skill and commitment to do it right.

But, although I seem to spend a lot of time fretting about this trend, I am reluctant to mention it online. I don't want to sound like an elitist, reactionary boor. I don't want to be an elitist, reactionary boor. I know that all skill is a sliding scale, and after 10 years of professional writing and journalism I still feel like a beginner in the craft. I know, deep down, that when I think about the issue I am comparing the best of the old with the worst of the new. I think I might be wrong. And I know that something more atavistic and primal is going on when I have this reaction.

It's the HP Lovecraft thing, I think. It's the Matchbox cars all over again.

When I was ten or eleven, I bought a tatty paperback of HP Lovecraft stories from a jumble sale. The first I read was Cool Air, because it was the shortest. It had an incredibly powerful effect on me. I had never read anything like it. The writing seemed so dense and rich, and the imagery was so powerful. Anything seemed possible in that voice. The mental images were so bright, so perfect. It unnerved and elevated me. I became devoted to HPL, reading and re-reading that paperback scores of times, and later buying more, until I had all the stories I could find. I tried my hand at writing my own. None of my friends had even the slightest interest in Lovecraft. There was none in the library. That didn't matter - it was my thing, all mine. The only thing that suggested that other people might be interested was that the books were on sale, and I once found a lead figurine of Cthulu. So I knew that there must be others who liked Lovecraft, but I couldn't imagine who they might be.

Then I got on the internet. Thousands of people interested in Lovecraft, dozens of websites. My joy turned sour on my first taste of Lovecraft fanfic. Then the steampunk ugliness began trampling on it. Bastards. And the idiots who didn't take it seriously. Every Cthulu plushie was a dagger in the heart. Bastards. Bastards! They were spoiling it! They were doing it wrong!

It was the Matchbox cars all over again. I have a clear memory of being maybe four or five and being furious with a playmate because he was playing with my Matchbox cars wrong. I scooped them all up in my arms and shouted: "Mine! MINE!"

What this sort of basic instinct tells me is that I'm not an internet-native; I moved here in 1995, when I was 17 already. The great thing about the "long tail" is that you can always find people who are into the weird stuff you're into. Most of the time that's brilliant. But the horror of the long tail is that we can always find people who like the weird stuff we like. We can see the mess others are making of our private passions. We don't even have private passions any more.

This isn't going to end with a plea to the "haters" to get over it, or get past it, or just ignore it, or not to take it so seriously, because I don't know how to do those things (although I can try to simulate knowing, as I did in my reply to blasdelf above). But I do know how you feel. Anyway, I hope we can all still get along.
posted by WPW at 8:53 AM on January 9, 2009 [11 favorites]


I just bought a TS-E 90mm. For all you out there that is a real tilt and shift lens. Most of these effects are just fake "tilt" simulations. The "shift" ability of the lens is much harder to simulate on photoshop and leads to real photo degradation to correct perspective. It has been said before but photoshop can take away focus but it can never add focus back to a picture. With proper tilting you can get everything from your feet to the horizon in focus. But, yeah I agree the miniature look is kind of played out.
posted by wolfewarrior at 8:58 AM on January 9, 2009


I believe Lensbabies create a real tilt-shift effect. You can actually tilt and shift them. They're less precise and have lower quality than the high-end stuff, but it's a real tilt-shift.

Echo Target, sure you can tilt them and shift them, but in the first and second generation lenses there was no way to fix your shot. You certainly couldn't get parallel lines looking up at a building which the tilt-shift lens was designed for - well maybe you could but it would take a lot of skill and a lot of luck. They are really a selective focus lens as opposed to tilt-shift. Anyway, they don't create the miniature model effect that people refer to as the 'tilt-shift effect'. That said, I love them.
posted by Elmore at 9:05 AM on January 9, 2009


30 seconds in Photoshop
posted by pjern at 9:24 AM on January 9, 2009


Good comment WPW. I know exactly how you feel.

I started doing Polaroid transfers in 1990, and it quickly became overdone. Fortunately, there was no easy computer/internet tool to produce the effect; you had to actually do it. As much as I loved the process, and showing the photos, I set it aside for a long time. Now, of course, the Polaroid transfer "look" can be achieved with a few mouse-clicks. I guess I am not really a purist; if someone wants to do it that way, it matters not to me. I even tried it for a while and was never happy with the results. The main reason being that in an original Polaroid transfer, in person, there is a huge difference. You can see the texture of the emulsion, and they have a delicate ephemeral quality that is lost in any digital or other reproduction. Even though I offer prints for sale, there is nothing like the original.

Now, they are not the hot thing any more, and my interest in them has multiplied. How long will I be able to buy Polaroid film, though? Maybe I'll stockpile, and when there is no film left to be had, I'll unleash my collection on the world!
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:26 AM on January 9, 2009


The result seems (to me) to be a colossal boom market in bad journalism... they lack the skill and commitment to do it right."

Great post WPW. You're right, but I'm more optimistic about it. The low barrier to entry leads to tons of dreck, but some of the good stuff is better than what we had before. I'm thinking of Talking Points Memo (for politics) and The Big Picture (for economics). I'd sooner give up the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal before I gave those blogs up. I realize we lose something in reporting capability if we lose the big papers, but for my domestic information needs, those sites are better (and more trustworthy) than the papers.

Getting back to photography, sure there's tons of crap, but there are talented people making compelling images that we wouldn't see without the low barrier to entry. Some people have the skill and commitment, but not the money (for equipment) or related expertise (publishing, exposure) that would be required otherwise.

There's definitely some elitism in the idea that the new model is a bad one. It's like people are complaining that the plebs are polluting their mindspace with their inferior art.
posted by diogenes at 9:55 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember in art school when we learned about the Scheimpflug principle (the correct term for "tilt-shift") on view cameras. For a week or so afterward, all anyone did was photos like these. When the novelty wore off we went back to making good photographs and kept the skewed depth of field on the back burner for when it actually contributed to the success of the image.

Unfortunately for those of us who love photography, the internet isn't a place where moderation ever really seems to take hold, no matter how many shitty images get passed around or whatever quick-fix processing technique is in vogue this week.
posted by bradbane at 11:22 AM on January 9, 2009


Talking Points Memo is and was produced, as I've pointed out before, by someone already established in Old Media (the New Republic). Take that for what it's worth.

I'm with you on more great photography being produced. I'm not sure if it's lower-cost, just easier to produce, the ability to share material an audience and edit photos with a basic home or laptop computer, etc., all renewed my interest in photography, hugely. Even when I used nothing but a 35mm camera for a couple of years there (in between owning an OK 3 megapixel camera and 10 megapixel SLR with a zoom lens of the sort I can use at music events and such), I was having CDs made in order to play around with photo files with computer editing programs. I still do that sometimes. You don't need to have a big photolab anymore, even if a pro or artist (which I'm not).

The only thing that bothers me is the active promotion of ugly HDR photos by Flickr and other photo sites. Check out what Flickr puts in its "interestingness" stuff if you subscribe to the feed via MyYahoo. I wish there was an alternative to that. Flickr is increasingly leading you to HDR and Generic Sexy Chick photos for half of everything through the interestingness ranking, even with the most innocuous search terms.

Frankly, I wish there weren't rankings, just a way to sort out what sort of photography you're interested in, not what Flickr's apparently ... well, sucky algorithm wants you to see. If you're not into Fake TiltShift or HDR or, by turn, fine art or photojournalism or whatever, you don't have to see it.
posted by raysmj at 11:26 AM on January 9, 2009


I never look at Flickr Explore. It's filled with nothing but people gaming the system (and doing bad HDR). The trick is to discover photographers you like and follow them through your contacts list.

I agree that Josh Marshall comes from old media, but the way he runs his operation now is very much new media. He needed old media to get started, but that isn't always going to be the case going forward. Young reporters are starting with him and will hopefully go on to set up similar operations.
posted by diogenes at 11:55 AM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I wonder, though, if you'll ever see someone come completely out of new media who is not a purveyor of nothing but punditry (which Marshall isn't, but most bloggers who've won attention and without Old Media roots have been). Ten years down the line, I'm thinking, but I could be wrong. At least five. Gaming Flickr's Explore and the promotion of HDR and such above all is the rough equivalent of Warblogging or Overly Snarky and Verging of if Not Plain Mean Already Gossip Blogging (which was interesting when it started, but has long since gotten out of hand), I suppose.
posted by raysmj at 12:57 PM on January 9, 2009


Your favorite photography technique sucks.
posted by mullingitover at 1:30 PM on January 9, 2009


This is fun to play with: fairy tale lion's eyes, Edo cat, Victorian wing tips, under the banyan, branch negative space.
posted by nickyskye at 6:12 PM on January 9, 2009


For people who want to screw around with a TS lens but don't want to buy one, they're not that expensive to rent
posted by aubilenon at 7:20 PM on January 9, 2009


WPW: an interesting comment but not all that relevant. I'm not sure if you're talking about bad writers, bad journalists, bad Lovecraft fans or bad photographers; they're are very different things. This is a web app that applies blur to photos as a bit of fun.

If professional journalism is in danger of being overrun with bad amateurs, it's because a large proportion of professional journalism is bad and amateurish, so people rightly believe they measure up. Good writers and journalists exist in both the professional and amateur field. In both they're a minority. The people who are bad at things still have as much right to do those things as the experts. That's often how people become experts.

"I don't want to sound like an elitist, reactionary boor."

Then don't. I liked your photo. What did you think of tiltshiftmaker?
posted by nthdegx at 2:48 AM on January 10, 2009


nthdegx: What did you think of tiltshiftmaker?

I thought it was a lot of fun, which is why I posted it. I spent more than an hour playing with it yesterday, with varying results, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Some photographs - particular some I took in the Middle East, with naturally bright light - came out looking amazing, but without the model-railway effect. I enjoy taking photographs but I am just anamateur. Things like this are just a bit of fun to me.

Which brings me to the rest of my remarks. The relevance is this: people react passionately against lousy online journalism, bad Lovecraft fanfic, and cheapo photo apps like this for the same atavistic reasons. It's the invasion of a specialism by the hordes - or so it feels to the members of the specialism. To everyone else that response comes across as reactionary elitism. It's a phenomenon of the (still relatively) new world of the internet. Maybe things will change once the internet-natives are in charge; certainly they won't think of this as a "new world", it'll just be the world to them. But they're only entering their teens right now.

You're quite right in what you say about journalism. In fact, you're saying almost exactly what I said, only approached from the opposite direction. You said: "... a large proportion of professional journalism is bad and amateurish, so people rightly believe they measure up." Right - they're comparing the worst of the old with the best of the new, or their own best assessment of their own capabilities. Whereas the elitist reaction from those inside the specialism is to compare the best of the old with the worst of the new. Comparing Michael Herr to the Drudge Report, or actual, original, high-quality tilt-shift to that Elvis on Flickr.
posted by WPW at 9:08 AM on January 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


My boyfriend absolutely adores tilt shift, and had a wonderful time playing with this and making tilt-shifted pictures of our Sea World visit.
posted by stoneegg21 at 4:04 PM on January 10, 2009


I took the Elvis picture. I had never played around with a tilt-shift, so this was a (no) cost way of playing around with it, and seeing what works and what doesn't.
posted by melodykramer at 5:19 PM on January 10, 2009


Burn her!
posted by diogenes at 10:51 AM on January 12, 2009


That's funny. I just realized that melody took both tilt shift elvis (much maligned) and tilt shift washington DC (much praised). Tilt shift elvis led to some really nice images.
posted by diogenes at 10:59 AM on January 12, 2009


Tilt Shift Elvis is a really good name for a band, or a nice shortcut for what WPW was describing. :P
posted by melodykramer at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2009


I agree. It's just fun to say!
posted by diogenes at 11:17 AM on January 12, 2009


Sorry about that that melodykramer. it only sprang to mind as an example because it was cited by another poster.
posted by WPW at 5:15 PM on January 13, 2009


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