Tilt-shift photography is a technique that transforms photographs of actual, full-size objects into miniature scenes. In other words, a large plane looks like a toy plane, a real town becomes a town of miniatures.
There are two ways to achieve the tilt-shift effect.
One way uses a special lens that allows you to control the rotation relative to the image plane and movement parallel to the image plane, tilt and shift. Tilt controls what is in focus and shift allows you to change the line of sight, while keeping it parallel to the subject of the photo.
If you are interested in trying out tilt-shift photography with your Canon or Nikon DSLR, here are a couple of lenses that would work great.
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II – High-precision lens elements for low distortion and high resolution; ±8.5° Tilt and ±12mm Shift. Aspherical and UD lens elements minimize chromatic aberration. Sub-wavelength structure and super-spectra coatings minimize ghosting and flare. Circular aperture for creative, blurred highlights.
Samyang Tilt-Shift SYTS24-N 24mm f/3.5 – Angle of view: 83.5° on full frame and 59.9° on APS-C. Construction: 16 elements in 11 groups with 2 aspherical lenses. Maximum tilt amount of ±8.5°, Maximum shift amount of ±12mm; 90° right and left mount rotation with click stops for each 30° step; Manual focus. Constructed for full frame cameras but can also work on APS-C; Takes 82mm Filter Size.
These resources might be useful, if you want to learn more about using tilt-shift lenses.
Canon — Tilt-Shift Lens Basics with Vincent Laforet
In three short videos, Vincent Laforet explains how to use a tilt-shift lens and how to create the miniature effect.
Digital Camera World – Tilt-shift photography: how to use 1 lens for 6 very different effects
This article shows the different effects you can create with a tilt-shift lens. (You can do a lot more with a tilt-shift lens than the miniature effect.)
Another way is to ‘fake it’ in post-processing with Photoshop. It only takes a few post-processing steps to create a tilt-shift effect. To see how it’s done, check out our Photoshop tutorial.
Examples of Tilt-Shift Photography
Here are 15 photos that show why tilt-shift photography is awesome and worth trying out.