Focus

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).