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Author Topic: Tilt shift for dummies  (Read 4000 times)

Quasimodo

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Tilt shift for dummies
« on: January 13, 2014, 02:52:47 AM »
Hi.

I wondered if anyone of you had any good tips for how to use tilt shift in all its glory? It should be really introductory (fine if it goes much more advanced to, as long as the lower buildingblocks are present). I tried to go to wikipedia to learn about the Scheimpflug principle, but that explanation would make non-ingenieurs cry blood; and I am not an ingenieur :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scheimpflug_principle

A week ago I saw a great two hour presentation by the portrait photographer Gregory Heissler, featured on Petapixel. He uses quite a bit of tilt shift in his portraits, and there was this one particularly cool shot that was for the front page of Time Magazine (imho) of Rudy Guiliani on the top of a high building, where he selected focus to get at sharp focus on the Mayor and the Empire state building.

I find these environmental portrait intriguing, and would love to learn how I can use my tilt shift for this kind of photos. Right now my lens is collecting dust, but the reason that I bought it was because it has so many uses. However the learning curve is quite steep, so if anyone can point me in the right direction of a great book, it would be much appreciated.
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Tilt shift for dummies
« on: January 13, 2014, 02:52:47 AM »

Eldar

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 03:30:14 AM »
My experience has been to learn the basics and the rest is practice, practice, practice ... I have read articles, looked at videos, but when I get out in real shooting situations, every situation seems to be a one off. I have a few times decided to go out and do specific things, like the Guiliani shot you mention. Every time I come home with something entirly different :)

I can also recommend Nick Brandt's portraits of African animals. He is using a T&S on his Pentax 6X7 to create some pretty cool effects. There are especially some lion portraits that stand out, but some of the elephant shots are also quite amazing.
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Quasimodo

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2014, 03:45:54 AM »
My experience has been to learn the basics and the rest is practice, practice, practice ... I have read articles, looked at videos, but when I get out in real shooting situations, every situation seems to be a one off. I have a few times decided to go out and do specific things, like the Guiliani shot you mention. Every time I come home with something entirly different :)

I can also recommend Nick Brandt's portraits of African animals. He is using a T&S on his Pentax 6X7 to create some pretty cool effects. There are especially some lion portraits that stand out, but some of the elephant shots are also quite amazing.

His elephant walk was amazing. I am just sorry that I did not have the chance to go see his exhibit in Horten, due to me being alone with my two kids that weekend.

I also have watched videos and read blogs, instructions and so forth, but I hope that there is a comprehensive book out there  somewhere. I have used the lens on several occations (straightening lines on buildings and such is quite easy), but for the more advanced possibilities this lens offer I have a hard time. I have tried different things, gotten strange pictures, but I find it hard to learn this way :)
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m

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 05:46:51 AM »
Heisler mentions that he spent several evenings on that roof trying out different cameras with different lenses.

Neither the 24mm Canon lens nor the 4x5 Camera could compete with the 8x10, even though he wanted to avoid bringing a large camera.

The focus is very selective because of the large format. Keep that in mind when you tie your expectations to the look of that image while shooting with your 35mm camera.

Heisler further explains that he "turned the knob" and the empire state appeared sharp and clear.
You could do the math and calculate the angles (how far to turn the knob), but simply trying until it works seems to be appropriate, too. After all that's what Gregory did with a deadline that I assume to be a tiny bit more deadly than yours.  ;)

With the math out of the way, Scheimpflug simply says that the plane of focus is not parallel to your film.
To set it, turn the knob(s).

Quasimodo

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 06:25:44 AM »
Heisler mentions that he spent several evenings on that roof trying out different cameras with different lenses.

Neither the 24mm Canon lens nor the 4x5 Camera could compete with the 8x10, even though he wanted to avoid bringing a large camera.

The focus is very selective because of the large format. Keep that in mind when you tie your expectations to the look of that image while shooting with your 35mm camera.

Heisler further explains that he "turned the knob" and the empire state appeared sharp and clear.
You could do the math and calculate the angles (how far to turn the knob), but simply trying until it works seems to be appropriate, too. After all that's what Gregory did with a deadline that I assume to be a tiny bit more deadly than yours.  ;)

With the math out of the way, Scheimpflug simply says that the plane of focus is not parallel to your film.
To set it, turn the knob(s).

Thanks :) Maybe my 17TS will not yield a similar result (disregarding that I do not have such a location, subject to shoot, nor am I such skilled photographer:) but I would still like to experiment with it. I tried as mentioned to read and understand the principle of the Austrian, but I guess my intellectual capacity in such hard core science matters is not up to par. I was hoping that there would be a book out there that not only explains the principles of shooting TS in layman terms, but also had some sort of tutorials and/or assignments to test them for yourself. Unrelated to this topic, I am reading just now such a great book on lighting (Light, Magic and Science). While some of the principles involved in this book are a bit abstract and dense, they are immideately shown through a set of examples and illustrations, coupled with suggestions for assignments. That is a type of book I like :)
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surapon

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 08:05:45 AM »
« Last Edit: January 13, 2014, 09:32:09 AM by surapon »

privatebydesign

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 08:37:39 AM »
The Guiliani portrait is a simple matter of T/S use, funnily enough I have admired that image many times and got Heisler's book 50 Portraits for Christmas.

He just used tilt in the same angle as the Empire State Building and Guiliani. So rotate the tilt plane until it goes into the orientation you want. To picture this in your mind, float above your camera and the scene, look at the filter thread on your lens and tilt it to make it intersect the angle between your subject and the camera. It doesn't take much tilt, the further from the plane of focus you are, the less tilt you need, at infinity you don't need any.

A great resource for understanding T/S is here. Keith, the site owner, is a member here and occasional poster, there are several other good T/S bits on his site too.
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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 08:37:39 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 09:16:22 AM »
Use of shift to correct for perspective is straightforward.  Just have the camera level, then shift until the lines are parallel.

When using tilt, the short version is focus to distance, tilt to closest. So, focus on the most distant subject, tilt until the close subject is in focus.  It's usually iterative.

Live view is best.

Have fun!!
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surapon

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2014, 09:33:59 AM »
Another Sample of Tilt position for Side Blur.
Enjoy
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Eldar

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2014, 09:40:03 AM »
His elephant walk was amazing. I am just sorry that I did not have the chance to go see his exhibit in Horten, due to me being alone with my two kids that weekend.
The exhibition was Awesome! I had to see it twice. I highly recommend his books.
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Quasimodo

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2014, 11:56:15 AM »
Eldar, m, Surapon, Neuro, and Privatebydesign.

Thank you all for your valuable input. I am looking forward to reading the links, and also to peruse the Club TS :) First it is the matter of putting the kids to bed ;)
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Quasimodo

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2014, 12:03:00 PM »
The Guiliani portrait is a simple matter of T/S use, funnily enough I have admired that image many times and got Heisler's book 50 Portraits for Christmas.

Some fantastic shots, and I really appreciate how he reasons around portraits and light. I think the first hour of his presentation was great, afterward it was more war-stories :) I am still on the fence about buying the book, as there are so many to read, and I was uncertain of how much more there was to the book vs. the presentation :)
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m

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 12:52:58 PM »
Here is the link to the 2 hour presentation:
Gregory Heisler ILFORD Lecture: Companion to "50 Portraits" Book and Gallery Show February, 2013

And a little bts on the mentioned shot, which goes on more detail about the lighting than the camera gear, as it's from profoto:
MASTER SERIES: Gregory Heisler whiteboards his Rudy Giuliani Time Magazine cover


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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2014, 12:52:58 PM »

privatebydesign

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2014, 01:05:54 PM »
Thanks for the link M, I hadn't realised it was "out there".
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privatebydesign

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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 03:13:25 PM »
With a Schneider Super-Angulon 165mm f8, you are looking at a 135 format 24mm f1.4 via equivalence, interesting that Heisler puts so much importance on f1.4 instead of f3.5 (the actual 24 TS-E aperture) and a much easier shoot. He really does value that separation only possible through comparative lens speed, even in the T/S. That is a perfect demonstration from a master of the ever finer search for image quality, look, and attention to detail.

So no 135 format lens can match the specifics of the Guiliani portrait, close, but no banana. The 17 TS-E f4 is a comparative oaf for that specific look.
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Re: Tilt shift for dummies
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 03:13:25 PM »