Toying with tilt shift

Have you ever seen images that look as if they are miniature scenes made up of toys? I’ve always wondered how they can be created successfully. A tilt-shift lens can achieve this but they’re quite pricy and I can’t justify paying a lot for something I’d use infrequently. After searching on the web I found a really easy to use step by step guide to creating this effect at Photoble. There are a surprisingly few number of steps to creating a tilt shift effect, but a lot of patience is needed to make it look realistic. The key to being successful is using an image that has been taken high up, looking down at a scene consisting of people, traffic and buildings. Whilst trying to find a suitable image I realised that I rarely take that kind of photo. Most of my own style involves tightly framed, close-ups of subjects. Eventually I found this image looking down at the dockside of Cadiz (below).

Original Image

Unfortunately the image I had chosen didn’t have any people in it, but there was a lot of traffic and I particularly liked how the white lorry in the left lower third was a feature of the scene.

I opened it in Photoshop CS5 and then pressed ‘Q’ to enter ‘Quick mask’ mode. Then I ensured the gradient was selected as ‘Reflected Gradient’ and drew a vertical line near the white lorry. After that I applied a ‘Lens Blur’ filter, with a radius of 30. This stage mostly involved trial and error, altering the position of the mask until the effect looked right. Finally I increased the contrast and saturation to give it some punch. Below is my final image.

Cadiz Tilt Shifted

I think it works well, but would have liked it to have included some people. In the future I will make more of an effort to look for opportunities where I can take photos from high angles and experiment further with this effect.

About Matt Davenport

With over 20 years teaching experience in primary schools, I am an ICT Advanced Skills Teacher and Apple Teacher.
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