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Tiny Little Houses

By DRicherby
Just so you know, I'm an idiot. The kind of idiot who pays for a year's membership of a site and then doesn't touch it for nearly a fortnight.

Anyway, this is something of a departure for me. Not only am I actually posting something but it's been edited much more than is usual for me. I've been interested in the tilt-shift effect for a while, especially after seeing Vincent Laforet's tilt-shift sports photography (Google for his website; the sports stuff is under Index->Sports->Play Magazine; there are some more under Index->Featured Work->CN Portfolio-Commuters). Alas, the lenses are crazy-expensive and manual-focus only, which is no good for me on the 400d's tiny viewfinder: I can't tell the difference between in focus and way off.

So, here's my first attempt at faking it with Paintshop Pro. Or, at least, the first attempt I'm willing to show in public. The large version displays the effect much better than the smaller one. Comments would be greatly appreciated and I've posted the unedited version, in case anyone thinks they can do better and has the time to show me what it's supposed to look like. Smile

Taken in San Francisco, on a little walk at dusk, after Thanksgiving dinner.


Thursday, 27th November, 2008
50mm, f/3.2, 1/8s, ISO-400

Tags: California Dusk Houses Streets Digitally manipulated San francisco Miniature Landscape and travel Fake tilt-shift Forest hill

Voters: discreetphoton, imander, glyndwr and 26 more

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13 Jan 2009 1:04PM
Much as I'd love to try with a mod, I'd fail. I've been trying to fake the tiltshift look as well with some shots I've got of large 'plant' machines, and I'm failing miserably so far. However, this looks quite good to me, you seem to be getting the hang of it, but am no expert alas.

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Pagnobito 12 2 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 5:11PM
Thanks for the link to that guy. I have no idea what tilt shift is, it looks good though, like they are toy houses.

It seems I have created a similar image of my own accidently -not posted here- of my car and it made that look like a toy, I wonder why?
DRicherby 9 269 725 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 5:40PM
A tilt-shift lens is one that can be angled so that its centre-line isn't at right-angles to the film/sensor (`tilt') and moved from side to side so that the centre of the lens isn't pointing at the centre of the film/sensor (`shift'). They're mainly designed for architectural photography: tilt allows the focal plane of the lens to be made more parallel to the building's facade, so that you don't need as much depth of field to get the whole thing in focus; shift alters the perspective so that vertical lines don't seem to converge so much as you look up at the building. The faking here is (I think) mainly simulating tilt.

The reason it makes things look like toys is that it gives a very narrow depth of field, which fools your brain into thinking that it's a close-up shot. But, if it is a close-up shot, it must be a close-up of something very small, not of something a few hundred metres away. The viewing angle matches this: we're looking down at the scene, just as we would be if it were a model. The toy-like effect, in this case, is enhanced by my having increased the saturation of the colours a lot (which gives a slightly plasticky feel and also makes everything look too clean to be real) and done an edge-preserving smooth, which has wiped away quite a lot of the texture within the shapes (again, making things look rather plasticky). At least, that's what I was trying to do!
teocali Plus
10 441 18 England
13 Jan 2009 6:06PM
I looked at this before David but, like Pagnobito, had no idea what a tilt shift was, so I am so glad he asked! Thank you so much for posting this wonderful explanation, which has added to my sadly lacking photographic knowledge! Smile
Based on your explanation I would have said that you had done a pretty good job. Must say I think it is a great image to start with - will check back to see if anybody else has commented and will also visit Laforet's website.
DRicherby 9 269 725 United Kingdom
13 Jan 2009 7:59PM
I was asked some more questions about tilt-shift lenses in personal mail so I thought I'd put an edited version of my response here, in case anyone else was wondering.

Lenses take things that are a certain distance away and focus them onto the film. Let's call the distance the lens is focused at, X. (Don't worry -- I'm not going to do any algebra; I just want a name for that distance.) Things that are much closer than X will be focused in front of the film; things that are much farther away will be focused behind the film. Things that are a bit closer than X or a bit farther away will still be acceptably focused; the extent to which this is true depends on the aperture you're using.

Now, suppose you tilt the lens upwards. The top of the lens is now closer to the film and the bottom is further away. This means that things that are closer than X will still be in focus at the top of the film and things that are farther away than X will be in focus at the bottom of the film.

What effect does this have? Well, remember that the image is formed on the film upside down, so the top of the film is the bottom of the photograph. So, close things are in focus at the bottom of the photo; distant things are in focus at the top. This is exactly what you want when you're photographing a building, because, if you're on the ground, the top of the building is farther away from you than the bottom.

To get the toy-like effect in this photo tilt-shift lens, you'd be use the technique I've just described in reverse. That is, you'd tilt the lens the wrong way so that the in-focus region gets much smaller, just as it is in a macro shot.
proz 13 205 United States
14 Jan 2009 7:10PM
this is a really sweet shot
Mynett 9 142 6 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2009 8:38AM
it is very interesting - ,and must have worked as you wished, as Cliff was looking with me and he thought it was a leggo model..... it is incredible . i have enjoyed reading your explanations which I don't fully understand, I would need to try it out to understand fully - are you a teacher, as your explanation is very good.

DRicherby 9 269 725 United Kingdom
16 Jan 2009 3:23PM
Thank you for your kind words, proz and Linda. Smile If you Google for something like `fake tilt shift' plus the name of your image editing software, you should find plenty of tips about how to get the same effects in your photos.

I'm a university researcher so I have done some teaching in my time, including lecturing some postgraduate courses in maths and logic. At the moment, I'm not teaching but I'd like to get back to it at some point -- it's a lot of work but I find it very rewarding.
SueEley 12 279 96 Wales
31 Jan 2009 9:11PM
Very well done - hard to get right, and you have!
9 Feb 2009 6:25AM
Very beautiful..
videotec 9 8 United Kingdom
11 Feb 2009 5:54PM
I had no idea what tilt shift was, then i read your explanation, Many thanks for enlightening me,,another part of the learning curve for.
Well looking at both images I would say the it looks as if you have achieved what you set out to do---Brilliant work
phototwink 12 18 3 Scotland
24 Feb 2009 8:29PM
Interesting effect! I enjoyed similar stuff using a 5x4" camera at college (very mature student!) a couple of years ago, but haven't had a go since. I think you've pulled it off really well. I look forward to seeing you next experiments.
16 Mar 2009 10:48PM
Looks great ! Smile ive been wanting to try one of these for a while, only havnt found the right shot yet to put it to the test, i cant wait though Smile
CaroleA 12 5 3 England
2 May 2009 5:20PM
Very clever - just like your recent posting.
74tash 9 Australia
20 May 2009 12:20PM
thank you ... ''learning while having fun'' , reading and absorbing all the information I have never had access to... thank you again Smile
twordley 12 360 England
3 Jan 2010 11:01AM
Just so you know, I'm an idiot Methinks not!

far from it, and the lecturer bit doesn't surprise me either, a fantastically clear and precise explanation of tilt and shift lenses and photography.

When are you going to do a piece on studio lighting and flash effects? - cos i'll have some of that too!

back to your image - I think you have achieved exactly what you set out to do here. if your going to do it well. you certainly acheived that.

great work

all the best for 2010

DRicherby 9 269 725 United Kingdom
3 Jan 2010 10:55PM
Thanks for your kind words, Trev. Smile I'm afraid there won't be a spiel about studio lighting or flash because I know nothing at all about either...

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