There are ‘N’ number of ways to make your pictures look one in a million. However this workshop is not about mastering all the aspects of photography but covers just a part of it that teaches you how to make a full blown picture look more or less like a miniature scale model. While DSLRs come with different lens attachments (such as Lensbaby) to make this possible, digital cameras don’t have the option of changing lenses. However there are always applications such as Adobe Photoshop to help us out of this rut. This workshop was carried out using Photoshop CS3. Newer versions such as CS4 and CS5 can also be used.
But before we step forward here is a little tip on making the whole process of miniaturization easier.
First and foremost make sure that you take the picture at an angle of 45 degrees (suggested). Secondly pictures taken from a height produce better results than the ones taken up-close. Reason being, when looking at a scale model the view is always a top down view. So clicking from a raised viewpoint always produces a much better shot. The main aspect of tilt-shift photography is to draw the viewer’s attention to a particular area of the picture while blurring out the rest.
Step 1: Quick mask
To being with, first choose the most appropriate picture that would be easy to work on and open it using Photoshop. Enable quick mask by navigating to 'Select | Edit in quick mask mode'. Once in quick mask mode choose the Gradient tool by either pressing 'G' on the keyboard or select it from the list of shortcuts placed on the left. Having done that, make sure to choose the 'Reflected
Gradient' option from the various options provided. By default it would be the fourth icon from the left. Now draw a vertical line from the area that needs focus to where you would want to lose focus in the image. Before proceeding to the next step inspect the position of the red layer that just got created. It basically displays the point of focus while gradually loses focus towards the edges.
Step 2: Applying lens blur
Press 'Q' once the focus area has been selected. The picture should now be highlighted by marching ants towards the selection area. Navigate to 'Filter | Blur | Lens blur'. You can either leave it at the default 'Radius' setting or adjust it to your liking. However try keeping the value below 35. Apply the desired settings and press 'Ctrl + D' to remove the marching ants. If in case the outcome isn’t too satisfactory you can always redo Step 1 with a different center of focus.
Step 3: Color and Saturation
To make it look more like a miniature scale model you will need to boost the overall color saturation of the picture. For this press 'Ctrl + U' or navigate to 'Image | Adjustments | Hue/Saturation'. Depending on the image adjust the saturation to a level that best suits the image and click on the 'OK' button.
If you find the need to crop the picture you can select the 'Crop tool' by pressing 'C' or simply select the tool from the list of shortcuts placed towards the left. Click and drag along the portion that needs to be cropped. Right click inside the chosen area and click 'Crop'. You can now save the image by navigating to 'File | Save as', change the format to 'JPEG' and click 'Save'. In the next pop up window change the Quality to Maximum, choose 'Progressive' and click 'OK'. That’s all that needs to be done to make large objects in your image look like toys. Vehicles and busy locations look great.