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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.