It really is a small world after all

Increasingly, camera manufacturers are adding art filters or scene modes specifically designed to mimic the effect of tilt-shift lenses.  Olympus, on their 4/3 and micro-4/3 cameras, call it a Diorama Art Filter and others, such as Canon, describe theirs as Miniature Effect.  In either case, these in-camera manipulations distort the photo to create the appearance of a full scale but miniature model of reality.  Here’s an example taken at a mall last Christmas with a Canon G12:


According to the Tilt Shift Photography website:

Tilt-Shift miniature faking is a creative technique whereby a photograph of a life-size location or object is manipulated to give an optical illusion of a photograph of a miniature scale model.

Altering the focus of the photography in Photoshop (or similar program) simulates the shallow depth of field normally encountered with macro lenses making the scene seem much smaller than it actually is.

In addition to focus manipulation, the tilt-shift photography effect is improved by increasing color saturation and contrast, to simulate the bright paint often found on scale models.

Most faked tilt-shift photographs are taken from a high angle to further simulate the effect of looking down on a miniature. The technique is particularly effective on buildings, cars, trains and people.

On paper, this isn’t all that interesting.  Why would anyone go to great lengths to take photos of reality and then alter them such that they appear to be smaller models of that reality?  Well, the answer is that sometimes the effect is interesting.  Using the Olympus feature (on my E-PL2) and the tilt shift plug in for Apple Aperture, I created a few examples, some of which aren’t typical scenes that lend themselves to miniaturization (as I believe the above example does).  But once applied, the distorted, edge blurred effect creates an appealing, otherwordly impression.





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2 Responses to It really is a small world after all

  1. jim r says:

    Your Target shot is the very first time that I’ve been impressed by these ‘toy’ filters. Every other image I’d seen has looked like a normal shot with a bad lens, but that one got me. It truly does look like a PlaySkool Target store – thanks for showing that it can be done, and done well!

    • 2guysphoto says:

      Jim – thanks for your comment. There’s something fairly gimmicky about this effect in general, but I’m finding that as I play around with it some more, I’m enjoying it more… and thinking about creative ways to use it.


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