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A true tilt-shift photo is done using a tilt-shift lens, and they’re typically used for architecture photography, to fix the perspective of buildings when you look up. Recently though, the effect has been used in photoshop to create ‘model village’ style photos, making the whole scene look miniature. Here’s how it’s done…

Firstly, you’re going to need Photoshop or GIMP to edit the photos, because even though it’s not complicated to complete, it does go further than the basic tool available in Aperture or Lightroom.

These sorts of photos work best as landscape and cityscapes, so start off with a photo like that.

Step 1 – Open your photo in Photoshop, and click on Select > Edit in Quick Mask Mode.

Step 2 – Select the gradient tool in the sidebar, and then at the top of the screen, select the cylindrical gradient tool. 

Step 3 – Use the gradient tool to select the area that you want to be in focus when you turn the photo miniature (select and drag upwards). You can experiment with the size of this area, but I find that something like below works best. It also works best off center. 

Step 4 – Unselect the Quick Mask Mode. This can be done in the sidebar, by selecting this icon at the very bottom. 

Step 5 – Go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur, and the image below will appear. Click invert in the first section (Depth Map), and play with the radius in the Iris section until you’re happy, and then click OK, and the job’s a goodun.

Here it is!

Here’s a few more examples for you to feast your eyes on.

How to Create Tilt-Shift Photos in 5 Easy Steps (Photoshop)

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Hey I'm Josh, I'm Photographer in Chief here at ExpertPhotography, and I'm in charge of making sure that we provide you with the best content from the most knowledgeable photographers in the world. Enjoy the site :)

  • By doing this are we not “explaining where the viewer should be looking”? Like any effect, this does have it’s place. I actually love the “dreamy” look it makes in video (especially wedding videos), however much like spot color, HDR, B&W, HIspo-whatever it’s called or whatever else is out there…it has it’s place, it’ll get over used (which quickly turns annoying, even in video) and there will be those who love it, hate it or are in between. I just find the two posts in a week about spot color and this a bit ironic as part of the effect of spot color you talk about is drawing the viewers eye which is exactly what this does and what bokeh does. Just my $.02.