Guide to Post Processing Tilt Shift Effect. Buckingham Place.. with a Shift.

Buckingham Palace Tilt Shift

Buckingham Palace Tilt Shift

So you can get a Tilt shift lens, but on my budget it all comes down to… Photoshop!

This is an effect where you can almost minaturise different situations by creating a very thing DOF (Dept of Field)

The process is quite simple, however i think it lies more within the shot of choice to create the effect.

The shot needs to be able to be blurred enough to still form the frame of the shot (i.e – you can still know what you are looking at even tho it is severely out of focus).

I currently do this Post Processing in Photoshop CS3 and CS4.


1. Load the image you want to edit into Photoshop
2. Press Q (to open Quick Mask)
3. Select the Gradient Tool (where Paint bucket is) and ensure you have the Center fading to top/bottom option selected along the top bar.
4. Now shift draw your line and you will see it create the gradient look… i find to get the best results dont try and keep too much in focus.
*TIP* The area you want in focus; draw your line downwards from roughly 50% through the area you want in focus. Draw this line a little below where you want the DOF to end. Also.. experiment with different effects.
5. Press Q again (to Exit Quick Mask) and you will see a rectangular selection of your photo.
6. Go to the Filter Menu. Filter -> Blur -> Lens Blur.
7. Ensure that Hexagon is selected, and start with level 20.
8. Apply the effect and see how it has turned out. From here, you can go back to Step 6 (or click back in History) and adjust the settings to suit your taste.
9. Once you have the desired Tilt Shift Effect you can further enchance the look by adding some Sharpness and Saturation.
10. Go to the Filter Menu. Filter -> Sharpen -> Smart Sharpen
11. Start with 20%, Radius 20.0 pixels and Remove: Gaussian Blur
12. Apply the effect and see how it has turned out. From here, you can go back and adjust the sharpen effect until you are happy.
13. Go to the Image Menu. Image -> Adjustments -> Vibrance (On CS4, earlier versions please select Saturation)
14. Bump the Saturation level up to 30 – 40. Add some Vibrance too, anywhere up to 50 and see the effect. From here, repeat or go back through the process until you have enhanced the image the way you like.
15. Crop the image to suit (If you have not cropped pre-edit). Please keep in mind the idea behind the Tilt Shift is that you would like to create the minature feel, and this means the viewer must be able to make out what the OOF (Out of Focus) area is, as a scale size for the IF (In Focus) area.

In the above image I have;
– Slightly straightened and cropped the image.
– Created a thin DOF based on the people in the photo
– Lens Blur Settings: Hexagon & Level 30
– Saturation +40
– Vibrance +75
– Smart Sharpen of 25% at 20.0 Pixels.

This image was difficult, as I wanted to retain some of the details of Buckingham Palace, otherwise it would be lost in the image. I am more happy with the OOF area at the bottom of the image.

I hope you find this small guide useful.

Till next time..

You can view some more of my Tilt Shifts here.

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