The Timeless Sea: Tilt-Shift Miniaturization Effect on a Long Exposure Photo of My Friends on the Sonoma Coast

Who says I don’t listen to you?  Someone asked me to post the other photo I took of my friend and his two charming kids at the Sonoma Coast because this one utilizes a tilt-shift look.  This can create a sort of miniaturization effect, and quite frankly, this is usually more effective when done to cabins on a hillside or cars on the street rather than people, giving this miniature model toy effect, although that said, one of the best photos I’ve seen utilizing this effect was of masses of swimmers jumping into the ocean.

Sonoma, The Timeless Sea II (long exposure photo of the Pacific Ocean)

Title: Sonoma, The Timeless Sea II
Info: Nikon D90, 18-200mm Nikkor VR at 27mm, F/25 ISO 200 for 6 seconds, two Tiffen 0.9 neutral density filters, flat rock (forgot my tripod!).
Photography: Ken Lee
Location: Salt Point, Sonoma County, California, USA

I don’t have a tilt-shift lens, so I created this in Photoshop utilizing the Quick Mask function in Photoshop.

I began by using Gradient Tool (Cylindrical Gradient) to apply a gradually increasing blur from where I wanted the focus point to be (in this case, the my friends standing on the rocks), increasing the amount of blur further from that point.  You can use your mouse, holding the Shift Key, to draw the gradient from the focal point on up.  You’ll need to experiment with this a few times.  I then switched out of Quick Mask to Standard Mode again.

I then applied the Lens Blur Filter in Hexagon Mode, tweaking the Radius to adjust the amount of blur.  I began around 15 and started adjusting to see what looked good 15-20 is usually fine.  You can also mess with Specular Highlights and Brightness as you see fit.

Especially with toys or cabins on a hillside, you’ll want to jack up Saturation Mode to bring out this miniaturization effect.  You can lighten and add a little contrast if you want as well.  That’s what I did here.

The miniaturization effect with this tilt-shift technique is more a function of your photo and what you choose to photograph.

LONG EXPOSURE PHOTO:  This is also a long exposure photo in which my friends once again sat still for six seconds.  I used two neutral density filters stacked together to reduce the incoming light, resting the camera on a rock.

Our trip, including more photos:
http://www.elevenshadows.com/travels/sonoma2012-guerneville/

Equipment:  Nikon D90, 18-200mm VR Nikkor lens

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