Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
Illustration by Petra Stefankova

Creating the toy effect


From:

Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

with Ben Long

Video: Creating the toy effect

Now, you've seen how we can use a tilt- shift lens to greatly expand the depth of field in certain situations. I can also use my tilt-shift lens to really compress the depth of field. And when I do that, I can end up with an effect like this: something that looks like a little miniature set, like a little toy set of something or re-creation of something. That's not what this is. This is an actual real-world scene shot through a tilt-shift lens. The thing is, when we're looking in real life at something very small, we have very, very shallow depth of field.
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  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
3h 50m Intermediate Dec 17, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.

The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.

The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.

Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Ben Long

Creating the toy effect

Now, you've seen how we can use a tilt- shift lens to greatly expand the depth of field in certain situations. I can also use my tilt-shift lens to really compress the depth of field. And when I do that, I can end up with an effect like this: something that looks like a little miniature set, like a little toy set of something or re-creation of something. That's not what this is. This is an actual real-world scene shot through a tilt-shift lens. The thing is, when we're looking in real life at something very small, we have very, very shallow depth of field.

So when we see a scene with shallow depth of field, we take that shallow depth of field as an indication of scale and we interpret that scene as being something very small. So even though I've got a real full-size real-world scene here, if I can get the depth of field compressed to something really tiny, when I look at the picture, I will interpret it as a miniature set. So we're going to create one of those shots right now. This is, honestly, in my opinion, something of a kind of cliche now. It's kind of tired effect, but it's still pretty fun and if you have got a tilt-shift lens, you have got to play with this. It's hard to resist.

So I'm standing here in Downtown San Francisco as the sun is setting and I'm on a rooftop here. I'm looking down onto an intersection. I'm just going to take a normal shot of it so you can see what it looks like. Going into Aperture Priority, I've got my 24-millimeter tilt-shift lens on here. I've got it set normally. I have no tilt or shift or rotation or anything dialed in. Like all tilt-shift lenses, it's a manual focus, so I'm focusing it manually. I'm at f/11 so that I can have some deep depth of field, so you can really see what my scene looks like. Because I'm shooting with a wide-angle lens into the sun, I'm having a little bit of a problem with flare.

So I'm just going to just hold my hand up here and block out that flare, and here's what I'm looking at over the rooftop. So I want to turn this into a toy effect. I want to shrink the depth of field. I'm going to do that by performing a big tilt on my lens, but there are a couple of things I need to do before then. When I tilt the lens up or when I shift it, I am radically cutting the amount of light that gets to the sensor, and unfortunately, the camera cannot accurately meter through the lens when it's tilted and shifted that way, so I need to meter first. Now, I shot that scene at f/11.

I actually want my aperture wide open, so I'm going to dial it down to 3.5, which is as big as I can go here. I want very, very shallow depth of field to exaggerate the effect that I'm going for here. So what I'm going to do right now is just meter. So I'm in Aperture Priority mode still. I'm at ISO 400. I probably don't need to be at ISO 400 when I'm wide open, so I'm going to bump it down to 100. And my camera is telling me that at 3.5, I need a 160th of a second. So I've got a couple of options. I could use the exposure lock on my camera, which would lock in that exposure.

The thing is, it will time out eventually. So if I lock it in and I'm spending some time tilting and shifting, it may release the exposure and then I'd have to start all over. So instead, I'm going to just go into manual mode and dial that in by hand, and now I forgot what it was. It was a 160th of a second at 3.5. So I'm switching to manual and I'm going to 160th at 3.5. Now, I'm ready to go. My metering is set. The last thing I want to do is focus. It can be hard to focus really accurately when you got the lens all messed up, so I'm just going to focus at a particular point in the intersection down there, and now I'm ready to go.

I've got all the locks loosened so I can really easily move the lens by hand, so I'm just going to tilt it upwards. And as I soon as I do that, through the viewfinder, I can see the shallow depth of field take hold. If I want, I can kind of move the plane that is in focus back and forth by focusing in and out. I still have my flare problem, so I need to block that. Ooh, and the sun is going down quickly. It's hard to get it all without getting my fingers in the shot. So I'm going to take the shot, and my exposure looks good, and here's what I've got.

So I've radically shrunk the depth of field and just by doing that, we now interpret it as a little toy scene. Obviously, you need a particular vantage point for this effect to work. You need to be up high so that you can work with that plane that's below you to shift depth of field back and forth. As you saw earlier, the way that I can control focus on here is across a receding plane, so I need to be up high. Again, if your SLR supports video, you can shoot video through this effect and the actual little moving cars and people will look like little toys.

If the motion is perfectly smooth, they look a little bit less like toys. So a better way to get a toy mini-effect is to do a time lapse because then your motion isn't all perfect and smooth, and it just looks a little more abstracted. Again, I personally feel that this is a little bit of a cliche now. Lots and lots of people are doing this, but it is a lot of fun to play with. If you have got a tilt- shift lens, give it a try. If you don't have a tilt- shift lens, don't worry. We're going to show you how to create this effect digitally later in this course.

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