This is the second in what may be a continuing series of stuff I do in Photoshop. You’re not really limited to Photoshop, as it’s such an expensive program. Similar, if not exact, things can be done in Gimp, a free photo manipulation program, or in the less expensive PS sibling Photoshop Elements. For this tutorial, you'll need at least the Creative Suite version of Photoshop. I use CS4 but earlier versions work too.
The first of the series was on how to "Ortonize" a photograph, especially nice for portraits. That post can be found here.
Some of you have seen a few of my "tilt-shift" photographs. There are a few that are scattered throughout my blog in various posts. I'll repost those at the end of this blog—with new ones not seen before.
Tilt-shift gives us a photo result that you can get to in a couple of different ways. You can buy a $2000.00 Perspective Control Tilt Shift lens, or you can simulate it in a series of fairly simple Photoshop processes. It's not difficult, and it's a fun thing to do. (I added a link at the bottom of the post to show you what a real PCTS lens looks like.)
The image above is the end result of the fake tilt shift process. It's a photo taken from the flyover above Granville Island looking toward my friend's place at the north end of Vancouver.
Ok, lets get started.
The first thing to do is to choose a photo you want to work on. Well—even before you do that—a note about picking the right photograph for this process as not every photo will work well. The effect of the process is that it often creates an illusion that you're looking at a model. We're used to seeing models from above, so the mind can be more easily fooled by pictures taken looking down than those that are looking up or ones at eye level. But that's not a hard and fast universal rule. You can see in an iPhone photo that Mishima processes here, that the selective focus works quite well with his photo. (The link above is also a hilarious story on how that photo was stolen by God Almighty to use as His personal Avatar on OS.)
So, the point is to play around and have fun. Once you get the process down pat—and it's not really difficult—you can try different photos of yours to see how they turn out.
You can use the original of mine above if you wish to run the tutorial. That image can be found here.
Step 1 Initial steps and settings
Open your chosen image and made a duplicate of it. Work off the duplicate—always a good idea. Then press Q to switch to Quick Mask mode. Or you can choose Quick Mask as a menu option as shown:
Next, click on the Gradient Tool as shown:
Set the default colors to black and white by pressing D. If you've been using another color in Photoshop from a previous session, you need to get back to the defaults:
before pressing D on the keyboard
After getting to the default colors, then click on the little two-headed curved arrow so that the white color is in the foreground.
after pressing D on the keyboard and then clicking on the two headed arrow
Next set up the gradient as shown below. Make sure you select the Reflected Gradient option, the fourth button along from the left:
Step 2 Apply the Mask
Choose where you want the focal point to be on the photo. That will usually be about half way between the top and bottom of the photo, but not always. Click and hold at that point. Drag the line of the gradient tool upwards, releasing it near the top of the image. It doesn't matter if your line is not vertical. In fact, in the image above, I was about 6 degrees off vertical.
You should get something that looks like the image below:
Press Q on the keyboard again to get out of the Quick Mask mode and you'll see something like this:
You can use the arrow key to move the selection up or down a bit. But the selection is what will be out of focus, so you need to inverse the selection:
So that you'll have something like this (I know the difference is subtle, but it's crucial):
What you see after the inversion, are the parts of the photo that will be rendered out of focus.
Step 3 Apply the Lens Blur
Choose Filter→Blur→Lens Blur to bring up the photo in the Lens Blur filter pane:
It will take a little fudging of the settings to get it optimal for your image, but start with the settings shown below:
Click OK to apply the effect and you'll be returned to your image with the tilt shift focus in place. You'll probably still have an area that has a marquee around it, press Command-D (on a Mac) or Control-D (on a PC) to deselect the marquee.
Step 4 Finishing up
The final step is easy enough. You want to enhance the artificiality—the sense that you're looking at a model. Bring up the Curves palette:
Drag the RGB channel to something like what is shown below. Make sure you select the Preview button in the Curves palette and you can see the changes as you make them.
That's it! You've done it! You have a fun cool thing to look at. Below is a side by side to show you the before and after:
You can see a larger version of the side by side here.
Here follows some of my own examples of the Perspective Control Tilt Shift technique I've used on some of my own photos. Some are successful, some not so much.
A landscape oriented version of the tilt shift image we worked on:
Several from Tokyo:
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbd/3514137188/" title="Untitled by bbdoyle, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3359/3514137188_3576e3c212_b.jpg" width="485" height="726" alt=""></a>
Another from Vancouver, BC:
Two from Hawaii:
This one, from the Gaylord Resort near DFW features a woman in a red dress at the center of the shot. When I showed this to my artist and photographer son and told him that it was not a real model, he said "Get OUT!"
A home that is an oasis in the midst of the heat and humidity of Dallas:
From the first level up on the Eiffel Tower:
Some from Mesa Verde:
And, lastly, one of my favorites. I love how the focus is on that lone bike rider. This was taken from a hotel window in Portland, Oregon.
Thanks so much for taking the time to visit. I hope you have a fabulous weekend, and the best Mother's Day possible.
all images copyright © 2004, 2007, 2008, or 2009 by barry b. doyle • all rights reserved