I am getting the photography bug. Over the last few years, I have spent a small fortune on cameras, software and materials. I am learning the technical side of taking pictures and I’ve also taken to restoring old photos and taking photos that I thought were hopeless and making some out of them. Sometimes I am successful and sometimes not so much but I always enjoy it and it is something that I can share with others.
Along the way, I’ve learned a few tricks and have passed a few on. I’d like to do so again.
Tilt shifting is the process of taking a photo of something real and making it look like a model. There are a number of ways of achieving the end result, anywhere from complicated tricks using a package like Photoshop down to uploading a photo to web site. There is a really nice site, TiltShift Maker, that is super simple to use and can return some nice results. Give it a try. Photos of places taken from a distance will yield the best results.
If you want a bit more control, the effect can be rather easily achieved using cheap or free software such as Paint Shop Pro, Adobe Photoshop Elements or even GiMP. For this discussion, I used Photoshop Elements 7.0. Please keep in mind that my method is super simple and may not give you the exact result you want, but it will be close and I have some links for you to go to for more in depth instruction. So, fire up your image editor and lets get going.
Open your photo and pick a section of the photo that you want to be the focal point. Use a lasso tool for tight control or the marquee selection tool and outline the focal point area. Next, invert your selection using the SELECT->INVERSE tool. Now comes the trickery. You need to blur the inverted selection. Select FILTER->BLUR->GAUSSIAN BLUR. You will have to experiment with the various settings like radius and feather. You should have a small amount of feathering to smooth the transition from blur to non-blur or you’ll have a rather sharp and unconvincing transition. Once you have completed the blur process, you are essentially done. Deselect and marvel at your creation. Depending on the photo, the effect is rather striking and surreal. You’ve managed to take reality and make it look like a bad ‘70s monster movie. Isn’t it great?
FREE and Portable Image Editor
I saw this on Friendfeed a few days ago, unfortunately, I don’t recall who suggested this cool little piece of software. Called Fotografix, it is a minimalist Photoshop-like image editor. It is free and, best of all, is small-the whole thing is about 600K. It does not need to be installed so you can run it from a thumb drive or other portable media. The application is not perfect and has a few bugs, but it is stable enough to take with you and do some basic image editing. Download it here.