February 11, 2009

177: Think Small

A recent and unprecedented run of consecutive snow days had me finally getting around to trying tilt-shift photography – a digi-technique I'd read about in the past few months. I did not have many photos that fit the bill, and I'm keen to take some photos downtown specifically for this once the winter is over and done with. But for the time being I used a tutorial found via Drawn! and attempted it on a pair of suitable panoramic photos I took during past vacations. This technique, combined with certain subject and compositional criteria, has the ability to give a photo the illusion of a miniature model – criteria that includes:

  • subject matter believable enough to be miniaturized in a model (urban scenes work best, naturally; streetscapes, train yards, etc.),
  • a slightly elevated viewpoint (as one would typically view a model), like from a balcony or bridge,
  • sharp directional lighting, particularly full sun, to mimic indoor bulb light or spotlights,
  • tight composition – shots out of airplane windows need not apply – again, to ensure believability.
Originals and stylized versions are on display here of Bethesda Fountain in New York City (above) and Praça 8 de Maio in Coimbra, Portugal (below).

To make the technique really work, the criteria above should definitely be considered before the photo is taken. These images of mine are what worked best without being able to do so; as such, there are still flaws with both. For example, the Central Park
fountain and banners would be wholly in focus if this were a real model, and more foreground than sky in the Coimbra panorama would be preferred (I also did a quickie patch job here to 'eliminate' a few folks). Both shots also show more detail than perhaps one would attempt in constructing an actual model, and there are many subtleties to consider in the blurring procedure to make the technique pop just so.

You can click here to access a handful of absolutely ace examples where the technique is done right, and here to follow a pretty basic tutorial of the process.


jk said...

really cool stuff.

Mary said...

The fountain scene is superb! I really like that effect...hope to see more!