Join Justin Reznick for an in-depth discussion in this video Making a miniature city using a tilt-shift lens, part of Exploring Photography: Tilt-Shift Lens.
- We are on the 71st floor of the Aon center in downtown Chicago overlooking an incredible city, 360 degrees. And this really inspires me to get the tilt-shift lens on and basically create what's called the miniature look. So I'm really excited to share with you today how we do that. So, we have the 90mm Canon Tilt-Shift Lens attached to the camera. I'm in vertical, or portrait orientation, and what I really want to do is just kind of get the height going.
And, we're going to be tilting. And, in order to tilt, the first thing we have to is make sure that we're tilting in the direction that our camera, the portrait orientation, so we're going to be tilting up and down. So, if you need to rotate the camera, for example, if it was in this position, this is a tilt right or left. So, make sure you're aware to twist it so that you're going up and down. Now, remember, the tilt function, usually we have a locking mechanism just like the shift. So what we're going to do is we're going to unlock that mechanism, turn it to the right, and then we're able to tilt up and tilt down, okay? So, tilt up and tilt down.
Now, our goal is to get as much of the frame out of focus as possible. And, typically what you do is you tilt away from your subject. So since my subject is down, I typically will tilt up. So, let's get this set up by turning the camera on. And, our aperture is very important here. Because we're going for as limited portion of the frame in focus as possible, we're going to shoot this wide open at f/2.8. So, very important that we're f/2.8. And, what we're going to do is manual focus.
We're going to kind of pinpoint the area right down. I'm going to be looking at some cars, some boats. And, we're really focused on the Chicago river cutting through and I've got Marina City on the bank. Marina City's these fascinating circular residential buildings. At the time they were built, they were the tallest residential structures in the day and this was in the early 60's. So, really interesting buildings. We've got the river and our goal is to basically make the cars and the boats look like it's a model.
Look as if you're looking at a model recreation of the scene but in reality, we're really taking a picture of the real Marina City. Alright, so f/2.8 and we're going to do is we're going to tilt up and as we tilt up, we'll notice that everything goes really blurry and that's what we're looking for. And then what we can do is use the focus ring to just focus on a boat or a car, something very specific, and our goal is to have everything else kind of go out of focus. Okay, so let's give that a try.
And I'm going to look through the viewfinder, it's just going to help me really fine-tune it. Make a slight adjustment with the composition. Alright, I've got some cars on the bridge in focus everything else is out. Okay, so I am tilted the maximum amount up or down. Now, if I tilt down, okay? I get a similar effect because I'm so far from the subject that whether you tilt all the way up or tilt all the way down, I'm getting a similar amount of blur.
So what I want you to do is experiment, okay? So, tilt up, tilt down, and continue to focus on an element in the scene. (photo snaps) So, you'll notice that I'm constantly playing with focus. And I'm on a tripod, which is great so I don't have to worry about the camera moving. (photo snaps) Alright, let's tilt again.
Going the opposite direction, maximum tilt. (photo snaps) Okay, I've got cars going, I've got some really interesting effects with the cars nice and sharp and the rest of the scene out of focus but I'm still waiting for a boat. I really want a boat to go through. So, I'm going to hang out and shoot that. And then, you know, miniatures is very much about experimenting and what's going to work and what's not going to work. So, as I walk around this 71st floor, I see all these opportunities. So, I'm going to wait for the boat, get that shot, and then move on, and find another scene worth taking.