Faking tilt-shift photography, via Photoshop

Feb 27 2009 Published by under Optics

I recently took another look at my post on depth of focus and depth of field, and noticed to my chagrin that the link to the original 'miniworld' pics, which show how a real scene can be made to look miniature by appropriate blurring, had been broken!

Fortunately, it's no great mystery how such images are done.  I easily found a very nice webpage that describes in detail how to manipulate your own photographs using Photoshop.  The results of my crude tinkering are shown below (click on the pictures to see the full effect):




The first one is of houses on the coast near the Florida-Alabama border, the second is of the ice rink Jaap Edenbaan in Amsterdam, and the third is a view of Amsterdam from the Zuiderkerk.  I put these pictures into an update on the depth of field post.

One thing is worth noting about this technique: real miniature photographs have a narrow depth of field, which means that only objects at a certain distance from the camera will be in focus.  The Photoshop technique shown here fakes this by creating a vertical gradient blur on the image.  To look reasonable, however, the image must be one for which the vertical axis of the picture maps more or less to the actual distance of the object from the camera.  Big objects in the foreground, which stretch across the vertical axis of the picture, can ruin the effect.  For instance, check out this attempt on a Providence cemetary:


The trees on the left and right (and the church steeple, to a lesser extent) disrupt the illusion, to my eye.

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