Tilt shift effect and how to fake it in post-processing.

Last weekend I ran a review of my experience so far with the Xperia Z5 phone rather than my normal Shot of the Week.


The theme for that week in my Flickr 52 Weeks group was “Tilt-Shift” and although I did include my entry in the post, I thought I would talk a bit about tilt-shift this week. This is partly because the theme this week was black and white (hence the photo above) which I’m going to cover later this week, but also as it’s quite an interesting topic that I didn’t want to miss.

“Tilt–shift” encompasses two different types of lens movement:

  • Rotation of the lens plane relative to the image plane, called tilt as you are effectively tilting it forwards or backwards which changes the focal plane.
  • Movement of the lens parallel to the image plane, called shift, where you typically move the lens vertically up.

Tilt is used to control the orientation of the plane of focus (PoF), and hence the part of an image that appears sharp.

Shift is used to adjust the position of the subject in the image area without moving the camera back

You can read more on Wiki.

TS Dover

The tilt mechanism can be useful in landscape photography as it extends the depth of the shot that is in focus. By tilting the lens forward both the foreground and background can be made sharp without using a large f/ number. The effect can also be used to create a “miniature world” image where it appears that you are looking a model of a scene rather than the scene itself.

The shift mechanism is often helpful in architectural photography for avoiding the convergence of parallel lines that you get when photographing tall buildings.

TS greenford

Due to the complexity of manufacture and the relatively specialist application, decent tilt-shift lenses tend to be quite expensive but it is easy to create a faux-tilt effect with phone apps like Pixlr by adding blur to parts of the shot.

You could use an on-line service like TiltshiftMaker.

Or you can reproduce in Photoshop – there are many tutorials out there, like this one from Tilt Shift Photography.

TS Lland

All of the tilt-shift images in this post are ‘fake’, created either with PS or Pixlr. Why not have a go yourself, try taking a shot and making it into a fake tilt-shift.

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