Tilt-shift Table Clutter

Tilt-shift is a way to greatly reduce the depth of field of a photograph. The effect is to make the subject look like a miniature, as though constructed as a tabletop model. The effect is traditionally accomplished with a tilt-shift lens that can create the effect in camera. There are a few very expensive professional tilt-shift lenses (called perspective control lenses) from camera makers out there. There are also inexpensive lenses from Lensbaby. Miniature-faking is not the only use for these lenses; for example, perspective control is used in architecture photography to reduce the convergence effect of straight lines. However, the tilt-shift miniature effect can also be created easily in post-processing with software. The post-processing version is much less expensive than a dedicated lens. The pros and cons of each method, I will leave to others or a future post some day. I used an online version called Tiltshiftmaker.com. It’s free for light use with basic features. I discovered it in a web search; there are plenty of other options.

The effect is often with in landscape photographs. It’s fun to see miniature city streets with itty bitty people frozen in time, or famous landmarks abruptly shrunken. I didn’t have access to a landscape today. I decided to try it in-house, literally. I captured our cluttered dining room table. In this case, I wanted a doll-house look, as though peering in through the tiny window. I found that a wide angle worked better than a short telephoto. The effect needs a nice stretch of perspective to work with. Telephoto tends to foreshorten, and diminishes the effect. In a way, the cluttered table is much like a city scape, with buildings and streets leading off into the distance, so the wide-angle is the logical approach.

The image was taken with a Nikon D90 and our trusty cheap wide-angle, the 18-55mm AF-S VR. Post-processing (before applying the tilt-shift effect) was minimal. I exported to jpg, then headed over to Tiltshiftmaker.com to upload and apply the effect. The website was fast and easy to use; download was fast as well. The site let me come and go without interference from registration or other nagging. This was just a trial run; I hope to try it again someday with a landscape.