On a recent trip to Paris, my wife and I left the kids with my sister at the playground next to "le champ de Mars " and decided to head out to the top of the Eiffel tower. As usual though, lines for the elevator were half an hour long, so we opted to take the stairs instead! How bad could it be, and what a perfect excuse to be guilt free the next time ( meaning every 4 hours or so ! ), that I will enter a French bakery ! It started well but as we reached the first floor, we both agreed that the view was just beautiful and probably wasn't going to be any better on the second floor :}
We took our time to go all the way around and take in the different views of the city. However, before we started our descent back to the bottom of the tower, I pulled my camera out to take few shots. I was especially interested in making a panorama of the place du Trocadero which faces the Eiffel tower from across the Seine river, and I also wanted a wide view of the Champ de Mars on the opposite side of the tower.
we were in the middle of the day and the sun was shining which is not exactly what you would call perfect conditions for landscape photography. It looked too bright and everything had hard shadows, colors appeared flat. In addition, le Champ de Mars wasn't in the best shape, you could see patch of grass missing.
Obviously, I could have brought the picture in Photoshop, fix the grass, the sky, etc... but that was not my intent. Instead I started to look around and shifted my attention to other parts of the scenery and this is when I noticed people sitting and laying down on the grass on the sides, between the trees. Right away, noticing how small everything looked from up there, the Tilt Shift effect came to mind.
As you will find on Wikipedia, Tilt shift is defined as follow : " Tilt–shift photography is the use of camera movements on small- and medium-format cameras, and sometimes specifically refers to the use of tilt for selective focus, often for simulating a miniature scene."
Often, photographers who specialize in that type of photography, will use a special lens designed to create that effect. Unfortunately they are expensive and not worth the price if you just want to experiment for fun. But as always, there is a way around it and my favorite assistant, Photoshop, can help !
The first part, and probably the most important, is to select a picture that will work well for that effect. You will look to have some height from your subject and have something in the picture where you can apply that selective focus. In my case, I picked the following image:
My focus was on the people on the right side of the image, and I felt that the image was a bit too wide, so I cropped it before I applied the effect. In addition, In order to give me this feeling of looking at a scene you would expect to see in a miniature railway display, I had to accentuate the saturation, making it as bright and colorful as I could and at the same time lower the clarity to make everything appear like miniature toys. The final result is a picture where the viewer has to decide if the scene he is looking at is fake or real !