3 Techniques for Tilt Shift Photography

Tilt shift photography involves a lens that can tilt and shift its focal plane. It allows for a great degree of control on depth of a field. The Tilt shift photography technique is widely used in false miniaturization of objects that are actually much bigger. You will need a specialized tilt shift lens and a compatible digital camera.

1. The Basics


A tilt-shift lens is a highly specialized piece of photography equipment that allows a photographer to exert strong control over the depth-of-field in any image that he chooses. A regular lens can provide a very small degree of this control. The tilt shift lens allows you to restrict the focus to a single and very narrow band of the entire view, allowing almost everything else to simply blur away. This has a unique effect of actually distorting the appearance of the view field, which tricks the eye into thinking the perceived depth is actually a lot smaller than it is and all the objects which are actually huge in real life look like miniatures.

The reason behind this effect is that tilting the “tilt shift” lens with respect to the film or the sensor plane actually distorts and changes the perspective of the image. It allows a photographer to make converging lines remain parallel or even diverge.

2. Using the Shift Lens

For tilt shift photography, you need to know the limit of your lens and to what degree it shifts around. The documentation of your tilt shift lens should be adequate to tell you about that. An example is the Canon TS-E 24mm/3.5L tile shift lens. This particular tilt shift lens shifts up to 11mm. Thus, you can be sure that the lens elements move up by 11 mm, and the image also moves by 11mm on the film of the camera.

Please note that because the film images are actually formed upside-down, this means that moving the lens up will actually move your images in the downward direction.

3. Distance Calculation

You will need to calculate how far from your target would you need to be to get the desired shot without actually twisting the perspective of the shot. This is a simple calculation that will depend on the height of the subject above your eye level.

You will need the following simple formula to calculate your distances: Distance / Target Height = Focal Length / Height Above Center line. This simple calculation will help you to avoid a lot of trial and errors on an actual shoot.

Please note that if you are employing maximum shift on your lens, some light will always falloff in the corners. This is due to some basic restraining optical properties. This effect may also be visible in the wide filters. To fix this, you may use a smaller aperture. Alternatively, you can back away from the subject and reduce shift or consider the use of an auxiliary filter holder instead of screw-on filters.