The other morning I found myself on the rooftop of the Hitt Street parking garage at sunrise. It had been a long night of paper-writing and I decided to take a break before finishing it up and going to bed for a nap before class later that day.
While I’ve owned a tilt/shift lens since 2005 and have used it extensively for landscape and architectural photography, mostly for the Scheimpflug effect, but I have never before intentionally made use of the tilt function to distort my subject. Vince LaForet’s “tiny landscapes” inspired me to try my hand at the technique.
Of course, my first few attempts were utter failures because, while I was able to compose the image properly and could “see” my subjects transforming into “toys” in front of me, I then stopped down the aperture to get proper depth-of-field. Why not, I thought–that’s the way it’s done, right? Wrong.
More after the jump…
The “toy landscape” effect relies upon the tilt of the lens and a shallow depth-of-field. If it wasn’t for the screen on the back of the camera, I wouldn’t have realized what was going on until much later–and probably wouldn’t have understood the result!
I will say that I really enjoy most the “matchbox car” effect that I get with automobiles. I am certain this effect can be abused–it’s a “trendy” thing to do with tilt/shift lenses, and now that I know how it’s done I’ll likely file it away in my brain, but I doubt I’ll be using it again any time soon. That way I can use it some day when the effect is the best way to relate an idea about a subject–when I want to show how small we really are in relation to the world.
One final thing I will remark upon is that the other day, while I was not attempting to make images with absolutely perfect focus, I did discover that the “live view” functionality of the 5D Mark II made focusing my tilt-and-shift easier than ever before. In the past, it’s always been difficult for me to be absolutely certain that my focus was “right,” and I would spend an inordinate amount of time making test frames and zooming into them to confirm that my subject was, indeed, sharp. Now, with the ability to zoom in to 100% with the screen on the back, focusing is far simpler–something that makes me happy I upgraded from the 5D.