Tilt-shift photography typically refers to a process that’s employed using a special lens that has the ability to physically tilt for plane of focus then shift to adjust the position of the subject on medium- and sometimes small-format cameras.

Tilt-shift within mobile photography applications is often the process of selective focus in order to simulate a miniature scene, also known as miniature faking. Selective focus can also be used to give the appearance of a shallow depth of field (DoF), or placing the focus on a subject in the background while blurring out the foreground & vice versa.  

Miniature Faking with Instagram

In order to make a full size scene appear to be a miniature model, the center of the image should be in focus and there should be a gradual blur towards the top and bottom. 

Let’s start with a photo of the Painted Ladies near Alamo Square:

Select “Choose,” then pick your filter if you wish, we’ve selected Rise, then tap the drop at the top. From here you have a choice between linear (line) or radial (circle). Select the line.

You can then drag or tap to move the focus around. As stated previously, you’ll want what’s in the center of the image to be in focus and the blur, shown as a translucent white, to be above and below the photo.

Once you’re done selecting your focus, removing your finger from the screen will remove the white blur guides and you can see what your final miniaturized photo will look like before you share it!

Shallow Depth of Field with Instagram

In order to make a more dramatic shallow depth of field (DoF), where the subject appears sharp but the areas in front of and beyond the subject appear blurry you’ll want to place the focus directly on your subject.

Let’s start with a photo of an adorable basset hound:

Again, select “Choose” and pick your filter, we really like Rise so we went with that filter again, then tap the drop at the top. From here you can experiment between linear and radial blur. We’re going to go with radial since we want to have our focus on his nose, eyes, part of his ear & a bit of his neck.

You can then drag or tap to move the focus around. Remember that with DoF the subject should appear sharp and the areas in front of & beyond the subject should appear blurry. We’ll want the translucent white around the circle just touching the edges of our subject in this case.

Again, when you’re done selecting your focus just remove your finger from the screen to make the white blur guides disappear so you can see a preview of what your final photo with shallow DoF looks like before you share it!

Don’t worry if you don’t master these techniques perfectly the first few times you try! It can take some time to master the look of both miniature faking & shallow depth of field. It’s often difficult to create an element that doesn’t naturally exist in your image, but in this case practice will eventually make perfect.

We’d love to see your favorite shallow DoF and miniature photos - reblog this post and share your photos in the comments!

Photos by @jayzombie.