Tilt-shift photography is an interesting form of photography that is now catching up. It involves the use of camera movements on small and medium-format cameras, and sometimes specifically refers to the use of tilt for selective focus, often for simulating a miniature scene.
‘Tilt’ is used to control the orientation of the plane of focus (PoF), and hence the part of an image that appears sharp. The ‘Shift’ is used to adjust the position of the subject in the image area without moving the camera back; this is often helpful in avoiding the convergence of parallel lines when photographing tall buildings.
In photography, a perspective control lens allows the photographer to control the appearance of perspective in the image; the lens can be moved parallel to the film, the terms PC and TS are also used by some manufacturers to refer to this type of lens.
Short-focus perspective-control (PC) lenses (i.e. 17 mm through 35 mm) are used mostly in architectural photography
Longer focal lengths may also be used in other applications such as landscape, product, and closeup photography.
The first PC lens manufactured for an SLR camera in any format was Nikon’s 1961 f/3.5 35 mm PC-Nikkor. Other manufacturers, including Olympus, Pentax, Schneider Kreuznach (produced as well for Leica), and Minolta, made their own versions of PC lenses. Olympus produced 35 mm and 24 mm shift lenses. Canon currently offers 17 mm, 24 mm, 45 mm, and 90 mm tilt/shift lenses, whereas Nikon currently offers 19 mm, 24 mm, 45 mm, and 85 mm PC lenses with tilt and shift capability.
With a PC lens, the camera’s back can be kept parallel to the subject while the lens is moved to achieve the desired positioning of the subject in the image area.
Most SLR cameras provide automatic aperture control, which allows viewing and metering at the lens’s maximum aperture, stops the lens down to the working aperture during exposure, and returns the lens to maximum aperture after exposure.
Using tilt changes the shape of the depth of field (DoF). When the lens and image planes are parallel, the DoF extends between parallel planes on either side of the PoF. With tilt or swing, the DoF is wedge-shaped. The DoF is zero at the apex, remains shallow at the edge of the lens’s field of view, and increases with distance from the camera. The angular DoF increases with lens f-number, the angular DoF decreases with increasing tilt.
Shift is a displacement of the lens parallel to the image plane that allows adjusting the position of the subject in the image area without changing the camera angle; in effect, the camera can be aimed with the shift movement.
Selective focus via tilt is often used to simulate a miniature scene, so much that “tilt-and-shift effect” has been used as a general term for some miniature faking techniques.
Basic digital post-processing techniques can give results similar to those achieved with tilt, and afford greater flexibility and control, such as choosing the region that is sharp and the amount of blur for the unsharp regions. Moreover, these choices can be made after the photograph is taken. One advanced technique, Smallgantics, is used for motion-pictures; it was first seen in the 2006 Thom Yorke music video “Harrowdown Hill”, directed by Chel White. Artist Olivo Barbieri is well known for his miniature-faking skills in the 1990s. Artist Ben Thomas‘s series Cityshrinker extended this concept to miniature faking major cities around the world, one such example is in his first book, Tiny Tokyo: The Big City Made Mini (Chronicle Books, 2014), which depicts Tokyo in miniature.
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With a perspective control lens, however, the lens may be shifted upwards in relation to the image area, placing more of the subject within the frame.
Another use of shifting is in taking pictures of a mirror. By moving the camera off to one side of the mirror and shifting the lens in the opposite direction, an image of the mirror can be captured without the reflection of the camera or photographer.
Written By: Rishabh Jain
A techie by profession and a foodie at heart, Rishabh loves finding bugs, not only in the backyard but also in the server. An ardent football fan Rishabh is a sports fanatic and is ready to help anyone with anything he can.
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