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10 Great Masters of Tilt-Shift Photography

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You might not recognize the term “tilt-shift” immediately, but you’ll certainly recognize the photo style when you see it. Essentially, the term covers a photograph that looks like it’s taken of a model, even though it’s actually an image of a full-scale scene or object. The name originates from the specific lens used to achieve the effect, although these days it is commonly achieved using effects in Photoshop instead. Of course if you really want to appreciate the technique, the best way is to see a few great examples of it, so here are ten artists who have truly mastered tilt-shift methods.

Olivo Barbieri

One of the cool things about using tilt-shift in a city is that it seems to erase the hustle and bustle of city life without actually taking away the area’s life forms. In fact, that was one of the things that inspired Olivo Barbieri to take on the medium. “I was a little bit tired of the idea of photography allowing you to see everything,” Barbieri says. “After 9/11 the world had become a little bit blurred because things that seemed impossible happened. My desire was to look at the city again.”

Vincent Laforet

While not all of Vincent Laforet’s works are tilt-shift images, he is considered a pioneer in the medium, and was even named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Photography” by American Photo. With beautiful shots like these that make modern living seem like some strange fantasy, it’s easy to see why.

Matt West

Of course, you don’t have to be a professional photographer with an unlimited budget for a helicopter and special lenses to achieve the tilt-shift perspective, especially since the advent of Photoshop. For example, Matt West was able to take this image from the roof of a parking garage. He just held the paintbrush in his left hand to create a forced perspective image and then added the tilt-shift effect at home with Photoshop for an unforgettable image that truly looks like the city is a miniature created by the photographer.

Ian Payne

Photoshop tilt-shifts can be quite impressive even without a forced perspective addition, as you can tell by this image of a New York City street scene by Ian Payne.

Serena Malyon

Even if you never appreciated the artistic merit of Photoshop manipulation before, Serena Malyon might be able to change your mind with her amazing take on the classic paintings of Vincent Van Gogh created for Artcyclopedia.

Malyon used Photoshop's tilt-shift techniques to focus in on specific aspects of Van Gogh’s artwork, creating an entirely new perspective on these oft-viewed paintings that allows viewers to notice details they may have never seen before.

Skrekkogle

Perhaps one of the coolest tilt-shift art projects ever thought up, though, was this one by the Skrekkogle art design group.

Noticing that people often use a coin to provide an instantly recognizable scale for any tiny object, the group opted to create a giant, 20:1 scale, fifty-cent Euro coin to make their tilt-shift images seem even more like tiny models.

As you can see, the result is that the already impressive tilt-shift images are even more convincing thanks to the presence of the massive coin.

Modest and Jill Janicki

Pier 39 might be one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of San Francisco, but thanks to Flickr users Modest and Jill Janicki, it looks like an entirely new and utterly unreal place in this great image. The sharp lines and detailed paint jobs on the buildings make this tilt-shift look even more like a miniature than most location shots using the technique.

William Mandra

This picture of Disney World’s Gold Dust Saloon from Big Thunder Mountain by William Mandra works for the same reason: the buildings are so unique and just-so-slightly cartoonish that your mind is more willing to accept that they are models than actual full-scale buildings.

Juan Pablo Mejia

The great thing about this tilt-shift by Juan Pablo Mejia is the way even the construction workers look like tiny model people designed only to add realism to a miniature cityscape.

Ronaldo Fonseca

Similarly, these soccer players from a game between Portugal and Denmark look more like accessories to a toy than highly-talented professional athletes, thanks to Ronaldo Fonseca’s use of tilt-shift.

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Ape Meets Girl
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Pop Culture
Epic Gremlins Poster Contains More Than 80 References to Classic Movies
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Ape Meets Girl

It’s easy to see why Gremlins (1984) appeals to movie nerds. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and written by Chris Columbus, the film has horror, humor, and awesome 1980s special effects that strike a balance between campy and creepy. Perhaps it’s the movie’s status as a pop culture treasure that inspired artist Kevin Wilson to make it the center of his epic hidden-image puzzle of movie references.

According to io9, Wilson, who works under the pseudonym Ape Meets Girl, has hidden 84 nods to different movies in this Gremlins poster. The scene is taken from the movie’s opening, when Randall enters a shop in Chinatown looking for a gift for his son and leaves with a mysterious creature. Like in the film, Mr. Wing’s shop in the poster is filled with mysterious artifacts, but look closely and you’ll find some objects that look familiar. Tucked onto the bottom shelf is a Chucky doll from Child’s Play (1988); above Randall’s head is a plank of wood from the Orca ship made famous by Jaws (1975); behind Mr. Wing’s counter, which is draped with a rug from The Shining’s (1980) Overlook Hotel, is the painting of Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II (1989). The poster was released by the Hero Complex Gallery at New York Comic Con earlier this month.

“Early on, myself and HCG had talked about having a few '80s Easter Eggs, but as we started making a list it got longer and longer,” Wilson told Mental Floss. “It soon expanded from '80s to any prop or McGuffin that would fit the curio shop setting. I had to stop somewhere so I stopped at 84, the year Gremlins was released. Since then I’ve thought of dozens more I wish I’d included.”

The ambitious artwork has already sold out, but fortunately cinema buffs can take as much time as they like scouring the poster from their computers. Once you think you’ve found all the references you can possibly find, you can check out Wilson’s key below to see what you missed (and yes, he already knows No. 1 should be Clash of the Titans [1981], not Jason and the Argonauts [1963]). For more pop culture-inspired art, follow Ape Meets Girl on Facebook and Instagram.

Key for hidden image puzzle.
Ape Meets Girl

[h/t io9]

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Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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presidents
Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Official Presidential Portrait
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Kehinde Wiley
Kehinde Wiley Studio, Inc., Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Kehinde Wiley, an American artist known for his grand portraits of African-American subjects, has painted Michael Jackson, Ice-T, and The Notorious B.I.G. in his work. Now the artist will have the honor of adding Barack Obama to that list. According to the Smithsonian, the former president has selected Wiley to paint his official presidential portrait, which will hang in the National Portrait Gallery.

Wiley’s portraits typically depict black people in powerful poses. Sometimes he models his work after classic paintings, as was the case with "Napoleon Leading the Army Over the Alps.” The subjects are often dressed in hip-hop-style clothing and placed against decorative backdrops.

Portrait by Kehinde Wiley
"Le Roi a la Chasse"
Kehinde Wiley, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Smithsonian also announced that Baltimore-based artist Amy Sherald has been chosen by former first lady Michelle Obama to paint her portrait for the gallery. Like Wiley, Sherald uses her work to challenge stereotypes of African-Americans in art.

“The Portrait Gallery is absolutely delighted that Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald have agreed to create the official portraits of our former president and first lady,” Kim Sajet, director of the National Portrait Gallery, said in a press release. “Both have achieved enormous success as artists, but even more, they make art that reflects the power and potential of portraiture in the 21st century.”

The tradition of the president and first lady posing for portraits for the National Portrait Gallery dates back to George H.W. Bush. Both Wiley’s and Sherald’s pieces will be revealed in early 2018 as permanent additions to the gallery in Washington, D.C.

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