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A World in Miniature: How to Create Tilt-Shift Photos with Your iPhone

Photo Credit Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

Wouldn’t it be fun to see the world in miniature?

Tilt-shift photography is a fun and creative technique that uses camera movements (i.e., tilt, shift, or both) to change or skew the image perspective. This technique is used for a number of applications: correcting converging verticals, sideways tilt, increasing the depth of field, panoramic photos, and the miniature effect.

The miniature effect, which is possibly the most popular application of all, is used to give the illusion that the scene you are taking a photo of is much smaller than it really is. It “miniaturizes” the contents of the image, as if you were taking a photo of a miniature scale model.

This technique is usually achieved with a special tilt-shift lens (which is extremely expensive) on a DSLR camera or by faking the tilt-shift effect using photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop.

But what if you wanted to achieve the tilt-shift effect using just your iPhone?

A smartphone is the only item people rarely ever leave home without, making it the most accessible and convenient camera anyone could ever have. And if you are ever presented with the opportunity to snap a beautiful, artistic photo while on your morning commute to work or even while running some errands, what would you most likely whip out? Your smartphone, right? It would most likely be the only photographic device you would have on hand. And with built-in access to social media, smartphones are sometimes even preferable to digital cameras, as they make it much easier to share your photos instantaneously.

Thanks to the abundance of mobile apps and special lens attachments, we can now easily replicate the cool photography effects that used to only be achievable with DSLR cameras and interchangeable lenses (e.g., fisheye, wide angle, macro lens, etc.) with nothing but our smartphones.

And yes, you can now mimic tilt-shift lenses, too.

If you are interested in creating tilt-shift photos with your smartphone, here’s how:

Download a Tilt-Shift App

The first step is to download a third-party mobile app that replicates the tilt-shift miniature effect. TiltShiftGen2 is a popular choice for iPhone users, but you can also try TiltShift Effect or TiltShift Generator. With the right tilt-shift app, you should be able to take a photo or choose a photo from your photo gallery to work with, apply and adjust the right amount of blur (the most important component of any tilt-shift masterpiece) to your photo, increase color saturation to enhance the surreal, toy-like appearance, and add a vignette or a filter to the finished product.

Choose Your Subject

When creating a tilt-shift photo, choose the right subject to achieve that miniature effect. Since you are trying to make the subject of your photo appear as if it were a small toy or part of a diorama, you may want to choose subjects that would make the most sense in that aspect. For instance, cars, trains, boats, trucks, houses, and city buildings make ideal subjects.

Find a High Vantage Point

When you are viewing something small like a miniature scale model or a toy, you are almost always looking down at it from a high vantage point. This is why shooting your tilt-shift photo from a higher vantage point than the subject will work best to help you achieve that miniature effect—it will help make the viewer feel as if they are really looking down at something small, which perpetuates the tilt-shift illusion.

Take the Photo

Once you’ve chosen your subject and located a good, elevated spot to shoot it from, open your tilt-shift app and snap the photo! Make sure that you have plenty of natural light to ensure that you get the sharpest image possible. Also, make sure to keep your composition simple to ensure your subject’s prominence in the resulting photo.

Photo Credit TiltShiftGen2 a

Image Source: TiltShiftGen2

If possible, try not to have any humans in the shot, as humans do not make for good tilt-shift subjects.

Adjust the Blur

Ideally, you’re going to want to use a linear blur on your photo, which you should be able to do on your tilt-shift app. This means only the top and bottom part of your photo will be blurred out, while the middle part (where your subject is) will remain in focus.

Using your chosen app’s controls (these will differ depending on what app you are using), adjust the blur until you are satisfied with the results.

Photo Credit TiltShiftGen2 b

Image Source: TiltShiftGen2

Your resulting photo should now look like a believable tilt-shift photo.

Color Adjustments

When you are happy with the blur on your tilt-shift photo, you can simply end it there, call it a day, and click “Save.” However, you may want to consider tweaking the color and saturation of your photo to make your tilt-shift creation even more believable. After all, you are trying to make your subjects look like toys or miniature models, so enhancing the colors and making them more vibrant will help add to the toy-like effect.

Photo Credit TiltShiftGen2 c

Image Source: TiltShiftGen2

If desired, you may also add a filter or a vignette (the subtle dark edges can really help draw more attention to the subject) to your photo.

And there you go. You’ve just created a tilt-shift masterpiece using just your iPhone!


  1. Mary Ambrosino says

    Very useful things to do with your iphone. we can always use photo tips.