Straven Road, 2013.
Straven Road, original photo – Christchurch, 2013.

Last week, I had one of those ‘so that’s how they do it’ moments. I read about a clever piece of kit called a tilt-shift lens (used by photographers to control the way perspective appears in an image) and a way of mimicking the lens in Photoshop. With the right photo, you can digitally blur and manipulate it to make places and people look like miniatures. Even without the right photo, it’s still an interesting effect.

Miyazu Garden, 2013.
Miyazu Garden, 2013.
Miyazu Garden, original photo – Nelson, 2011.
Miyazu Garden, original photo – Nelson, 2011.

The latest version of Photoshop apparently has a ‘tilt shift’ blur feature but, really, it’s pretty straightforward: apply a reflected gradient and a lens blur so that parts of the image are out of focus, then adjust saturation and contrast to make the colours look more artificial.

The effect tends to work best with photos of people/vehicles/buildings taken from an elevated viewpoint. You don’t have to hire a helicopter to get a suitable photo… but climbing several flights of stairs to get just a little bit higher could make all the difference. With that in mind, I’m now on the hunt for really good photos to miniaturise : )

My thanks to Hovercraftdoggy for their inspirational We make models post (which includes a link to a tilt-shift photography Photoshop tutorial).

9 thoughts on “Focus

  1. Yes for sure this looks like a definite must try Anna !
    Thanks . Will pop over to HovercraftDoggy ….

    1. I’m sorry that I made your eyes feel funny — that wasn’t my intention. Perhaps I should warn you that I plan to post a few more of these in the near future. It’s just too much fun : )

  2. It is amazing how easily the human mind is fooled by a simple optical trick like focus distortion! 🙂 This feature is also available in Photoscape, which is a free piece of software – it is a filter option called Fake Tilt-Shift. I have only tried it on a couple of pics but it seems to work very like Photoshop.

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