Tilit-Shift Quarry Illiusion

First time I was introduced to tilt-shift photography, was when I discovered Olivio Barbieri’s work. We have even showcased some of his works through this website. I’m not sure if Olivio originally discovered this technique or not, but what I know for sure is what Graham A. Stephen submitted, is equally impressive! Graham’s work should be of great interest to our audience, because the author was kind enough to provide both versions, one including and the other lacking the implemented effect. Check out how the construction site appears in both versions! What I would like to know, is whether this technique can be reversed? Would it be possible to force the miniature replicas to appear bigger (and are the Hollywood studios using this)? Also, can the tilt-shift technique be applied to almost any scenery? So many questions, so many of you to answer them ;D

44 Replies to “Tilit-Shift Quarry Illiusion”

    1. In the second picture it looks like a real-life setting ( a construction site ). While in real it’s actually miniature (as you see it in the first pic)

    2. When you focus a camera, only something at the proper distance is in focus, things that are too close or too far are blurry.

      So when you take a close up photo of say a toy car in front of a regular building, to get the toy in focus, the building is out of focus.

      What he has done here however is taken a photo of some full sized construciton equaipment in front of a full sized building. But he artificially blurred the background stuff. This makes it look like the construction stuff were tiny toys.

    3. I think what is happening is that this is a photo of a Quarry. The top photo is supposed to look like it is a minature since the top and bottom have been blurred. The botom photo is the real photo to show it is all live size. Kinda neat but not really.

  1. This is the first time I’ve seen this done to a real-life setting. I have seen many, many “making of” featurettes where Hollywood has used this in effect ‘in reverse’ as you call it. In fact, the phrase I remember hearing more than once (especially before CGI became so wide-spread) was “If you want to make it big…make it small!” — meaning that the larger the scale of something needed to be, the more likely it would be that miniatures would [have to] be used.

  2. i think the pic should have been switched to have more of an effect… like the bottom one on top and the top one on bottom…. but i it still very amazing to see this!!!!

  3. what carl says is true, sorta – im pretty sure that “make it small” was more a reference to the limitations of the day (not that making a miniature would seem like a real life model) forcing the producers, if they wanted something too big to manage in a studio you had no choice but to make miniatures – once made; the poor quality of images in the day made it passable
    – this last is true even of say skin molding (ie – alien masks; worf on star trek); that the poor quality made it passable – remember hearing how scared holywood was of HD (making most camera tricking technique obsolete)

    No it would not be possible to do this effect in reverse; the blurring of the fore and aft grounds creates an illusion of depth beyond the scope of the lens – should you shoot a miniature the effect would be automatic, and how do you unblurr… and besides making the picture sharper would require finite detail in the model… why bother when we can CGI?

  4. I get it but i dont get it at the same time for some reasont it looks like a piece of trash with tiny tiny toy cars in the dump :)

  5. In the first picture, it looks like a miniature that is placed up close with the buildings way in the background. The second picture shows you how it really is.

  6. Besides being able to do this in camera with the lens on small format cameras, and with View Cameras (large format) with multi-planes, it is also possible to do the same effect with Photoshop.
    I am not saying he used Photoshop technics but it is possible to do that way too.

  7. Nice!
    I didn’t read the text until now and saw the picture and thought: well this is obviously a miniature set that pretenses to be large. Look you can even see there is a match used in that blue one!
    So, great illusion!

  8. I think I know why this illusion works. Consider why the original photo does not look miniature. The objects are so far off from the camera lens, that there is little difference in the blur when you set focus of the lens to some point in the landscape.
    The fact that the photograph (first one) seems to focus at a point, says that the objects nearer to the camera are so close to the lens that they get blurred due to the focus; the same applying to objects far off. If you keep your camera on a table with several things on it, and click a photo, things closer to the lens are blurred, and so are those farther from the lens. But some objects seem perfectly sharp because the camera focuses on them. That’s why objects in the first photo seem miniature. So, by adjusting the blurring on an image, I think you may be able to make any image seem like a miniature model.

  9. This appears to me to be a simple case of adjusting the range of focus by changing the photography — use a larger f-stop(lens opening) and a shorter exposure to isolate the focus on the specific spot — use a smaller f-stop and longer exposure to get the entire field of view in focus.

  10. To anyone who doesn’t get it:

    Tilt-shift photography is a technique (it can be done with the camera, or digitally using Photoshop) in which the mind is tricked into thinking that the objects that are in focus are smaller than they actually are, due to the reduced depth-of-field characteristic of macro shots.

    What this means is, generally photographs of small things have blurred foregrounds/backgrounds, this technique takes advantage of this widespread fact by applying it to a BIG scene, so that we are tricked into thinking that things in the BIG scene are actually small.

  11. I think its done using a special camera lens which gives the illusion of the subject having been photographed using a standard macro lens. Macro shots tend to produce photos with a very limited depth of field where only the subject is in focus and everything in front and behind is blurred. There also tends to be some distortion of the subject in the shot especially around its edges.
    Anyone used to seeing normal macro photos will be fooled in to thinking that this is a very close up shot of a small subject.

  12. @Carl – First you heard of using a real-life settings? Look up tilt-shift videos. They basically use the same technique and are amazing to watch. Saw some of New York, a ski village in Alberta, and plenty of others.

    Yes, the trick can be done with any landscape, but some allow the effect to flourish better than others.

  13. This is very clever, from the first pic, the middle section is the only one in focus and so appears to be a miniature model, but once the focus is restored, you see that it is actually a shot of a full size quarry scene.

  14. @Sean: Im sure that the original photo is of a regular construction site. The trick is that we are all used to having a certain depth of field depending on how far away the object of our focus is…

    Try it.. First look at the pen on your desk… Blurry directly in front of the pen and blurry directly behind the pen,right?

    Now look outside your window and focus on something halfway the horizon… hardly anything blurred right? That’s because your depth of field is a lot longer…

    Soo back to the Photo: Taking a ‘normal’ photo and shortening the depth of field(blurring front and rear) wil make the object appear to be very close to us. And that will make us thing they are small models…

    Oh and you can’t do it the other way around with (a single) photo’s because you can’t de-blur or sharpen a photo to create a longer depth of field… (But it’s possible with 3d and is widely used in movies)

  15. the use of the focus to make things look miniturised is quite an old technique if you want to see video footage of the minituriation effect goto keith loutit’s smallworld website at keithloutit.com

  16. Tilt and Shift lenses don’t just affect the depth of field, but also the perspective of the scene. They were generally used before the advent of photoshop etc. to reduce converging verticals in building shots where the camera operator was pointing the camera upwards but wanted the building to appear face-on.

    Its because of this effect that the images have the ‘miniature’ look not the simple blurring of foreground and background, which can be achieved with most large aperture lenses.

  17. I don’t think some of you are getting it….the picture is of an actual quarry…the tilt shift technique takes the actual sized image of the quarry and makes it appear as it it is in miniature…that is the illusion.

  18. The technique can be reversed, and the Hollywood studios are using the reversing of it but I don’t know if they are using the normal way.

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