Am I the only one who hates tilt shift use in portraits?

Syborg1211

Diamond Member
Jul 29, 2000
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I just saw an article on fstoppers about how the guy loves tilt shift lenses for portraits. I absolutely hate the use of tilt shift when photographing a person. It's just unnatural to me for a person's legs to be out of focus while their upper body is in focus.

A friend's wedding photographer exclusively used a tilt shift lens for her wedding, and I hated every picture. Why do you want everyone's dresses, legs, shoes, and bouquets out of focus for the bridesmaids shot? There's so much time spent on every detail of a wedding and often any portrait that blurring these details out is a disservice to everyone.

What is it that people like about this effect in portraits?
 

fralexandr

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Apr 26, 2007
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I always thought tilt shift was mostly for miniaturizing stuff or something?

It should in theory bring the focus to the "in focus" portion of the picture. Thus, maybe the person paying wants the people to be the focus, instead of the dress/formal wear.
I think lighting might be a less "obnoxious" way to achieve that, though it would normally require more control over the shooting environment.
 
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blastingcap

Diamond Member
Sep 16, 2010
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I hate ultra-thin DoF that doesn't need to be ultra-thin but is because the photographer just can't get over that gimmick. Tilt-shift would fall under a similar category for me. Don't gimme gimmicks. Everything in moderation.
 

Throckmorton

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Aug 23, 2007
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I've never heard of anybody using tilt shift for portraits... Your friend is just a bad photographer.
 

JohnnyRebel

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Feb 7, 2011
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I hate ultra-thin DoF that doesn't need to be ultra-thin but is because the photographer just can't get over that gimmick. Tilt-shift would fall under a similar category for me. Don't gimme gimmicks. Everything in moderation.

+1
 

JohnnyRebel

Senior member
Feb 7, 2011
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Example?!

Here is a video about using tilt-shift for wedding photography. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1hmmpVEtaA

Here is an example that is an interesting shot. I can see where shift-tilt can be cool for portraits, but not wth gay abandon...

3866493699_a0d2bb369b_o.jpg
 

randomrogue

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Jan 15, 2011
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That's terrible. I've shot some weddings and I would never go for that effect. Sometimes you can use a lens baby to get some neat pictures but a tilt shift?! Weird.
 

corkyg

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Mar 4, 2000
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Tilt shift is best suited for architectural photography. Maybe the portrait subject was built like a brick outhouse? :)
 

Fardringle

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Oct 23, 2000
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I can see using it for a few "stylized" shots, but never for an entire shoot/portfolio.
 

randomrogue

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Jan 15, 2011
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I couldn't imagine using that at all. A Fisheye and lensbaby produce far more pleasing images. I can't tell what's going on with the girl's legs above. It's very distracting and unattractive.
 

slashbinslashbash

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Feb 29, 2004
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I dunno, I found the article the OP mentioned and I think most of the photos in it are pretty tasteful:

http://fstoppers.com/my-new-favorite-lens-is-not-found-in-very-many-photographer-bags

I agree that it could be annoyingly overdone, but the same could be said for pretty much any photographic technique.

Old-school photographers such as Ansel Adams used view cameras with bellows which made every lens into a tilt-shift. This allowed things such as infinite DOF in landscape shots by tilting the focal plane so that the entire thing was in focus.

ansel-adams.jpg


This would be helpful for portraits where, for example, the camera is high or low relative to the subject, and angled up or down towards them; but the whole subject could still be in focus. Pretty much any studio portrait photographer from the pre-digital age used a bellows camera and would do slight corrections to achieve clear focus over the entire body.

This is not a portrait, but it shows the idea. This was shot at f/2.8 due to low lighting; the shot on the right is impossible without a tilt lens.

Focusing%20the%20tilt-shift%20lens-1_img_3.jpg


Basically all of this is actually just using the tilt function of a tilt/shift lens. Tilting changes the angle of the focal plane, and this can be used either to make only tiny slivers of the image be in focus (which is normally only possible in macro photography, which is how the "miniaturizing" effect works), or to make the entire image (near objects and far objects) be in focus without stopping down to f/32 or something crazy like that. Shifting, on the other hand, only changes the part of the image that hits the sensor/film. This is used most often for architectural photography in order to take photos of buildings without parallel lines converging.

Focusing%20the%20tilt-shift%20lens-1_img_1.jpg


Shift lenses can also be used to take a mild panorama (roughly 2x the width of a normal frame) without moving the camera body itself. So the images need only minimal processing in order to be stitched together.
 

Paladin3

Diamond Member
Mar 5, 2004
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This discussion could apply to any number of gimmicks bad photographers use to make bad images. If the most notable aspect of your image is the technique used to make it then maybe you need to rethink your subject.
 

cantholdanymore

Senior member
Mar 20, 2011
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It is just a technique to make your pictures "different"... Until everybody does the same. The OM-D includes a filter that does something similar

Old-school photographers such as Ansel Adams used view cameras with bellows which made every lens into a tilt-shift. This allowed things such as infinite DOF in landscape shots by tilting the focal plane so that the entire thing was in focus.

Not really, he (they) liked to use very small apertures so all the picture is in focus not only a particular plane.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Group_f/64
 

iGas

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Feb 7, 2009
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I dunno, I found the article the OP mentioned and I think most of the photos in it are pretty tasteful:

http://fstoppers.com/my-new-favorite-lens-is-not-found-in-very-many-photographer-bags
2013-03-14_0005.jpg

No wonder the photographer need a gimmicky effect, because he have terrible taste and God awful composition, such as elbow forward in this image. And, the face looked like it is Photoshop/graft onto the body.

2013-03-14_0004.jpg

The compositions in this photos are completely out of whack. The subject is no longer important, and is reduce to streak of grey/black that is compressed in a corner.

2013-03-14_0003.jpg

This image would work better if the subject is at the left 1/3~1/5 mark to show that the subject is walking into the frame, instead of at the 1/3~1/4 mark that indicates it is walking out of the frame leaving behind an uninteresting empty/dead space.

There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs. Ansel Adams

There is nothing worse than a brilliant image of a fuzzy concept. Ansel Adams
 
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elitejp

Golden Member
Jan 2, 2010
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Sometimes art is just plain stupid looking. For me I shoot what i like and and then i pp the way i like and then most likely I will have a pic that i like. If im shooting for someone else then I do it the way they like it done. No biggie.
 

_Rick_

Diamond Member
Apr 20, 2012
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2013-03-14_0005.jpg

No wonder the photographer need a gimmicky effect, because he have terrible taste and God awful composition, such as elbow forward in this image. And, the face looked like is is Photoshop/graft onto the body.

The worst (or best :awe:) part of this image, is where the background around the waist is suddenly and unexpectedly in focus.


I don't think I have an issue with using tilt/shift for portraits, as you can do many interesting things with it - but if your usage is reduced to "and now let's tilt it right to the limit", then you're probably not using it as a tool for your composition, but as a gimmick to distract from it.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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I have to say I agree with the OP. For the most part I like a shallow depth of field, but using tilt shift to blur even the body of the subject just looks distracting and ugly in most cases. Thanks but no thanks.
 

Syborg1211

Diamond Member
Jul 29, 2000
3,297
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I dunno, I found the article the OP mentioned and I think most of the photos in it are pretty tasteful:

http://fstoppers.com/my-new-favorite-lens-is-not-found-in-very-many-photographer-bags

I agree that it could be annoyingly overdone, but the same could be said for pretty much any photographic technique.

Old-school photographers such as Ansel Adams used view cameras with bellows which made every lens into a tilt-shift. This allowed things such as infinite DOF in landscape shots by tilting the focal plane so that the entire thing was in focus.

ansel-adams.jpg


This would be helpful for portraits where, for example, the camera is high or low relative to the subject, and angled up or down towards them; but the whole subject could still be in focus. Pretty much any studio portrait photographer from the pre-digital age used a bellows camera and would do slight corrections to achieve clear focus over the entire body.

This is not a portrait, but it shows the idea. This was shot at f/2.8 due to low lighting; the shot on the right is impossible without a tilt lens.

Focusing%20the%20tilt-shift%20lens-1_img_3.jpg


Basically all of this is actually just using the tilt function of a tilt/shift lens. Tilting changes the angle of the focal plane, and this can be used either to make only tiny slivers of the image be in focus (which is normally only possible in macro photography, which is how the "miniaturizing" effect works), or to make the entire image (near objects and far objects) be in focus without stopping down to f/32 or something crazy like that. Shifting, on the other hand, only changes the part of the image that hits the sensor/film. This is used most often for architectural photography in order to take photos of buildings without parallel lines converging.

Focusing%20the%20tilt-shift%20lens-1_img_1.jpg


Shift lenses can also be used to take a mild panorama (roughly 2x the width of a normal frame) without moving the camera body itself. So the images need only minimal processing in order to be stitched together.

I like those examples that you have shown, but I was specifically referencing the use of tilt shift for portraits as the reason for my dismay. Tilt shift definitely has its uses.

Here are some shots from that wedding photographer that just baffle me wondering how people like the effect:

screen-shot-2013-02-14-at-12-08-15-pm.png


554215_10151094586791603_1468306478_n.jpg


487382_10151092191876603_884222559_n.jpg
 

corkyg

Elite Member | Peripherals
Super Moderator
Mar 4, 2000
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I hear you. Hate is a strong word - I avoid using it, but, suffice it to say I dislike the current mod trends towards "cutsie" wedding pictures. There's no accounting for taste - and if the people buy them, more power to the photog. P.T. Barnum once said it - "There's a sucker born every day."
 

Throckmorton

Lifer
Aug 23, 2007
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Shift lenses can also be used to take a mild panorama (roughly 2x the width of a normal frame) without moving the camera body itself. So the images need only minimal processing in order to be stitched together.

Can you explain this mild panorama stuff you're talking about? Do you mean you move the lens, and then the edges of the two photos will match up geometrically?