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Create a Tilt Shift Effect in Lightroom 4

By Pye Jirsa on August 6th 2012

In this Episode – Creating the Tilt Shift/Lens Baby Effect

In this Lightroom 4 tutorial and Preset episode, we are going to show you how to use Lightroom 4 and our Preset System to create a tilt-shift look. When used correctly, this creates a look that mimics a miniature world.

It is a very distinctive look that can be considered trendy, so even though it may be popular now, it may not be timeless. It also only works on certain types of images.

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Before and After Examples

Before
Tilt-Shift with LR4 Preset System Before

After
Tilt-Shift with LR4 Preset System After

Video Tutorial and Lightroom 4 Preset System

In order to create a super convincing tilt-shift effect, you want to create one small plane of focus across the frame. Everything above and below that plane will be out of focus. This typically works best when the main subject or subjects are also on a single plane and the image is shot wide.

To create the effect with the Lightroom 4 Preset System, you first select the Gradient tool (Shortcut key M) and choose the effect #43 Heavy Desharpener.

With the gradient tool, the effect is at 100% strength at the start the gradient and fades to 0% towards the end of the gradient. Start by dragging down from the top and end it right at the subject’s head. Then, start another gradient from the bottom and end it at the subject’s feet. If you want a stronger blur effect, you can blend multiple gradients.

You also want to be careful when applying the gradients and make sure that your subject does not become too unfocused.

Additionally, the tilt-shift effect does not work convincingly when there are multiple in-focus objects on different focal planes. Below is an example where applying the effect on the trees and the bushes creates an image that looks like it has been poorly processed in the computer. You may be able to achieve the tilt-shift effect if you use an adjustment brush to selectively desharpen the individual bushes and branches, but it is time-consuming.

Tilt-Shift-with-LR4-Preset-System-Wrong

So to recap, be sure that you shoot the image wide and have your subject or subjects on the same plane. Then, use Heavy Desharperner gradient brush to blur from above and below the subject.

That’s pretty much it. It doesn’t take very long to create the tilt-shift effect.

The SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 Preset System

Purchase or Learn More About the Lightroom 4 Preset System

For those that may not have seen the SLR Lounge Lightroom 4 Preset System. The Lightroom 4 Preset System has been designed from the ground up to be able to help you achieve any effect you desire. From vivid color correct images, to HDRs, to faded vintage images, to antiqued images, the sky is the limit!

Included are nearly 130 Develop Presets and 26 Brush Presets that are not only incredibly powerful, but also surprisingly simple and intuitive. Best of all, while other companies would charge $300, $400 or $500+ for a system like this, we are making the entire system available for only $99. Oh yeah, and the accompanying tutorials and mixologies, those are all free! So enjoy peeps. Below are all of the initial tutorials to get you guys started.

Purchase or Learn More About the Lightroom 4 Preset System

About

Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

Follow my updates on Facebook and my latest work on Instagram both under username @pyejirsa.

2 Comments

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  1. Joseph Prusa

    Thanks for posting

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  2. Jules

    “It’s all about how you like your tilt shift baby.” Love that. Haha. Great tutorial and I agree, it should be used judiciously.

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