Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tilting and Shifting


I've been intrigued by the look of a tilt shift lens and though I don't have one, it is possible to recreate it effect using Photoshop. Or at least approximate the effect. There are a number of sites that provide instructions on how to do this and I'll provide links below. In my case, as a rabid member of the AtlantaMINIS club I've been wanting to take a photo of our gatherings from afar. Last Sunday we had an event that ended up at Brasstown Bald which is the highest peak in Georgia. I decided to get a shot from the observation tower to try this effect. Unfortunately, I could have used another 100 mm reach on my lens but had to make do with the 200 mm I had at my disposal.

The steps I took are:

  1. After doing my "normal thing" in Lightroom I brought the image into Photoshop - note I cropped a bit in Lightroom as required by my lack of reach with my 200 mm lens.
  2. At this point I duplicated the layer - always protecting myself from frequent disaster.
  3. On the duplicated layer I created a mask by clicking the create mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette:

  4.  Next click the Quick Mask icon at the bottom of the Tools palette so you can see your masking:

  5. Now you will paint in a mask which will be used to limit the areas that a lens blur will be used. I created a gradient that has white where the blur will occur and black where the blur will be blocked. The gradient I created looks like this in the gradient editor dialog:

  6. With the quick mask turned on and the gradient selected you will drag across the image making sure the "red" mask is in alignment with the portion of your image you want to be in focus. I tried this numerous times until I got the right look. Important: Make sure the mask is selected and not the image. You'll know because there will be a little white outline around the mask in your layer. See below.

    Mask is selected

  7. Click the Quick Mask button again to turn off quick mask mode. You'll now see the "marching ants" around the selected areas.
  8. Use the Lens Blur filter and play around with the settings until you get a look you like. For the MINI image I used Radius: 39, Brightness: 6, Threshold: 237. Mix to taste.
  9. If I didn't like the "blur" when I had the lens blur filter dialog up, I would escape and then redo steps 6 and 7 until I got a look I like. If you redrag a gradient in quick mask mode then the one you had created is just replaced.

  10. To complete the look put in a curves adjustment layer and increase the contrast. You can go the, um, cheap route and just use a contrast adjustment layer and bump up the contrast to around 30. You lose fine tuning if you do that rather than a curves adjustment.
  11. Top it all off with a saturation adjustment and bump up the saturation. I went up to about 40 on this image. These last two steps start to give the image that "plastic" look.
  12. The final result for this test image:

For more examples go to these sites: