Tilt-Shift Photography On The Cheap

So there’s this thing called Tilt-Shift Photography, which I guess could also be called “using a tilt-shift lens on your camera.  What is a tilt shift lens?  It’s a horrendously expensive specialty lens often used by people taking architectural photography.  Why are you reading this?  Because tilt-shift is fun stuff:

Soap Box Derby Banana

Alright – I admit it.  That’s not real tilt-shift.  The good news is that you can fake it too – easy!  Click the link and I’ll tell you all about it.  It’s easy.  Did I say easy?  I meant easy.  Click the jump.  Do it.

Ok… back to the explanation, just so we can dispense with it.  If you want the lines of something, like a building, to stay straight, your camera, lens, and the building all have to be square to each other.  If you don’t, the walls of the building will appear to slope toward each other the higher they go.  So these special lenses exist that allow you to tilt or shift the lens without moving the camera.  I like it because you can use it to make people and other objects look like little toys.  That’s fun, right?

Dive boats on Koh Tao

So what if you don’t have any special gear but still want to play?  Well luckily, Lifehacker pointed me toward a sweet little app – the TiltShiftGenerator – one guess what it does.  You can run it right from the web or download (which requires Adobe Air, also a free download) and run it on your computer.  Totally reminds me of the Poladroid app from a while back.  There are only a few things to know:

1.  Make sure your picture isn’t over 1600 pixels wide as this thing chokes on big images.

2.  The best pictures have a subject that is pretty far away and not a ton of distracting stuff in the fore or mid-ground.  If there is something close to the camera, hopefully it is on the edge of the frame.

3.  If your subject is one point in the picture, choose “Radial”.  If you have more than one subject or it is spread out over the picture, you probably want “Liner”.

Tilt Shift Generator Screenshot

4.  Move the “Center Radius” slider down almost all the way to the left to bring the control lines in.  Click in the middle of your subject to center the lines.  Click and drag the circle control to rotate the lines and use the “Center Radius” slider to make them bigger or smaller until your main subject is in focus.

Old Cars, with Tilt-Shift effect

Toy with it until you like what you see and you’re all set.  Instant fun!

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