The Tilt and Shift technique is growing in popularity, although it’s not a new technique, technology has taken it to a new level of artistry. It’s been around for more than 60 years, using specialized adapters or lenses, though its effect differs from what you are seeing most recently. This newest technique is called Fake Miniaturing. Its effect, when used properly, can make almost any picture look like a miniature diorama, giving the subject a toy-ish look. Even though the latter is often referred to as Tilt and Shift photography “tilt”and “shift”can be two separate photography effects.
Tilt A tilt lens is aptly named, that’s just what it does, tilts. Traditional lens are parallel or vertical to the camera’s film, ensuring that your focal plane is in focus, say for example a child on their bike. By using a special lens that tilts you can narrow your focal plane to a one particular point, like focusing in on the child’s face while the rest of the picture is a blur, this gives the picture an artistic flare or depth to your subject. This technique is a great medium to use for those photographers that love to use their photos to tell a story or grab their audience and force them to focus on one particular spot within the whole image.
Shift A shift lens will stay parallel, but move up and down via rails that are built into each side of the lens. This special lens comes in handy with vertical perspective distortion that is too tall to fit within the camera’s shot, e.g. a tall tree or building. If you’re too close to your subject plane, the tree per example, the top of the tree will be cut off. But, if you point your camera up, you get perspective distortion, giving the top of the tree a narrow perspective while the bottom or trunk of the tree looks wider than it actually is. This distortion effect is actually great artistically and most photographers enjoy and appreciate its quality, but if one is trying for an accurate representation, a shift lens can be a real life saver. It’s also possible to purchase a lens that both tilts and shifts, by the way. If you’re handy, you can build your own.
Fake Miniaturing If done right, this technique can have the most amazing effect making a picture of a large yellow dump truck look like a child’s toy, for example. There’s no special camera equipment or lenses needed. You can achieve that “plastic”toy look with adjustments in your photography software, like photoshop. There’s plenty of online tutorials to help walk you through the process. With patience, you can transform the most blaséscenic picture and give it a dramatic look or an imaginative aura.
Tilt/Shift Applications If you don’t have the budget for expensive software or you’re a novice and just want to play around, there are loads of alternatives available. You can find plenty of Tilt and Shift applications for your smart phone and all your mobile devises that you can play around with. There are even websites where you can upload any picture and give it a tilting effect or fake miniaturing look. Be aware that you may not get the same results you would with photography software. However, it’s a great place to start and play around with different effects besides Tilt and Shift, for a lower cost.