Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tilt-Shift Photography Tutorial

"Tilt-shift photography" is a camera trick often used to simulate a miniature scene. Sometimes the term is used when the shallow depth of field is simulated with digital postprocessing; the name may derive from the tilt-shift lens normally required when the effect is produced optically. In this tutorial, I shall teach you on how to achieve this technique through Adobe Photoshop.
Tutorial details: 
Program: Adobe Photoshop 7 or higher
Difficulty: Beginner
Estimate Completion Time: 10-20 minutes
This is the final product of the tutorial.

Step 1: Choosing the Right Photo

It doesn't mean that if you have Adobe Photoshop in your laptop or PC, you can already achieve this particular technique. It can be tricky though since miniature models are often viewed from above. Hence, the photo must be taken from an elevated area or viewpoint.

In this tutorial, we are going to use this photo taken by Renz Bulseco from the rooftop of the control tower of Davao International Airport.

Step 2. Quick Mask Mode

Press Q on the keyboard to enter the Quick Mask Mode or simply click the Quick Mask icon as shown below.

Step 3. Gradient Tool

Press G on the keyboard to choose Gradient Tool or simply select the Gradient Tool icon as shown below. After that, select the Reflected Gradient option, the fourth icon before the Mode drop-down.

Step 4. Draw A Line

After setting up the gradient tool under quick mask tool, draw a line. Make sure the line runs over the photo where you'll be focusing at. In this step, you will need a fair degree of trial and error. After releasing the mouse, the area of focus will appear as a red mask as shown in the photo below:

Step 5. Exit Quick Mask Tool

Press Q to exit Quick Mask Tool and return to the Standard Mode. As you can see, the area of focus is surrounded by the "marching ants" selection lines as shown below:

Step 6. Lens Blur

From the menu bar, choose Filter > Blur > Lens Blur:

Step 7. Tweak the Blur

After clicking the Lens Blur filter, you can now view the focus effect. The default settings of the program can already suffice every designer's taste but it would be better if you'll experiment it! Remember that if you're not satisfied with the blur effect, you can always go back to Step 4 and try drawing a line on a different center of focus.

Step 8. Hue/Saturation Adjustment

After removing the "marching ants" selection boundary (CTRL D), Press CTRL U on the keyboard to open the Hue/Saturation adjustment or simply on the menu bar, select Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation. Model scenery is often brightly colored so enhancing the color helps on tricking the eyes of the viewers.

Step 8. Curve Adjustment

To increase our photo's contrast, press CTRL M on the keyboard or on the menu bar, select Image > Adjustments > Curves. In this example, we use a very small S-shaped curve to increase contrast. Although you can opt to skip this step if you're already satisfied of tweaking the photo's hue/saturation.

Step 9. Finished Product

Here's the final image of the tutorial.


  1. thanks for sharing your knowledge about "Tilt-shift photography" It looks easy but I am not really good when it comes to this. But good to know you share these stuff, pagaralan ko din to this weekend after ng Binondo.

  2. Can we work do this if we have Adobe Photoshop 7?

  3. Hello Jomar. Yes, you can. The quick mask tool and the lens blur filter is available on Adobe PS 7. :) Let me know if you have problems or whatnot. :)


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