Tilt-Shift Photography

toy cars
looking down on some toy cars

Doesn’t the photo above look like some little set with little toy cars? It’s called “tilt-shift” and it’s a photographic technique. Photographers use a type of camera lens that can be moved (shifted) and pointed at different angles (tilted).

Tilt-shift miniature photos are photos of real-life scenes that are made to look like miniature scale models. Though it was originally done using those special lenses, these days a lot of people are doing it using apps. I suppose that if you use the software for the simulated depth-of-field trickery, it’s fake tilt-shift, but since most of us amateurs don’t have these special lenses, it may be your only shot at it.

Using the software, you are distorting the focus of the photo, to simulate the shallow depth of field of a macro (closeup) lens. That gives the illusion that the scene is much smaller than it actually is.

It seems to work better if your shot is from a high angle to get that illusion that you are looking down on a set. Horizontal objects also seem to work better than vertical objects that would cross the in-focus & blurry areas.

I actually discovered this years ago via a website called TiltShiftMaker that lets you transform your photos into one of these “miniatures.”  It’s free and easy to use. There is also an inexpensive premium version and probably other apps that can do it too. The hardest part is getting an appropriate starting image.

You can also get this effect using software like Photoshop with its image blur and layering functionality and it would probably be better (if you really know how to use that complicated piece of software) but the online tool is a good way to try out tilt-shift photos. 

knights and horses
In a museum – but it reminds me of my toy knights and horses.

Samples and more information



Photoshop tutorial

Published by


A lifelong educator on and off the Internet. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

One thought on “Tilt-Shift Photography”

  1. Vincent Laforet started with the tilt-shift at the U.S. Open and an airport, and all hell broke loose in the aftermath. In the hands of pedestrians, you have to watch out for ordinary pictures juiced up by an extraordinary feature.


Add to the conversation about this article

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.