A Guest post by Patrick Ashley from Introduction to Tilt-Shift Photography which is Part 1 of this series.. Check out his previous
It seems that about the only thing it can’t do is brew coffee; but there will be a new model out in a few months, and if it has a coffee brewer, I’ll marry it.
I’m talking of course, about the iPhone, Apple’s juggernaut in the the smart phone world, the electronic gadget I can’t live without. Pacemaker? I can live without it; iPhone, no. The reason is, because I’m a photographer, and thanks to the iPhone, I always have a decent camera with me where ever I go. Is it my Nikon? No; but in many ways, I have more fun with the iPhone camera than my Nikon.
At my blog,, I deal only in the photographic effect of tilt-shift, that is, making real world photos appear as though they are photos of miniature subjects (tilt shift lenses are also used for controlling perspective). When I first started tilt-shifting photos, they were done in Photoshop with some fairly horsepower-intensive filters, such as blurring on a gradient. Saturation levels are increased, and curves are curved, and sometimes the blur isn’t where you want it in the photo, which means you start over again. Jeez, too bad you can’t take a photo on the iPhone, and just tilt-shift it right there, but that would take too much horsepower, and that’s asking a lot of a phone.
Well, silly me.
Turns out there ARE apps out there – and good ones – that let you do just that. Even more mind-blowing is you can post-process videos into tilt shift movies! What’s next Apple, weather modeling?!
So let me give you a run down on the photo tilt-shift apps out there, and you can have even more phone on your phone.
TiltShift Generator – Fake Miniature
Well done, complete package – except perhaps for a more adjustable focus band.
Pros: Load photos from your camera roll (not available in free version), or take a new one with their camera. Adjust where the focus band is to be placed, set blur, contrast and saturation. Vignette feature. Export to Mail, Twitter, Facebook. Save to Camera Roll.
Cons: Focus band can’t be set to an angle, or tapered.
Primarily meant for video obviously, Tiltshift Video also does a great job with photos. The video portion of this app will be reviewed in my next article about Tilt Shift Video apps.
Pros: Very adjustable focus band – can tilt and taper, change shape from a bar to circle or elliptical. Control brightness, contrast, vignette, saturation, blur amount and smoothing (blur gradient).
Cons: Interface needs to be polished; lacks that professional look. Can’t export directly to Facebook, Mail, etc. Once the focus band is in place (the last step) you can’t go back to change it if you aren’t happy with it’s placement – it simply saves the image. Should present you with a preview image, then allow you to save, or go back. Focus band placement should be first.
Tilt Shift Focus
One trick pony – simply applies a graduated blur band. Saturation control is required for a tilt shift photo.
Pros: Different blur bands, which are easily adjusted.
Cons: No contrast, saturation or blur controls; can’t export to social media.
Simple app, no frills.
Pros: Adjustable focus band.
Cons: Can only load previously taken photos from the Camera Roll, not albums; No focus band guides; No contrast, saturation or blur controls. “Tilt” control should be re-named “blur”; can’t export to social networks.
Full-featured app, one of the top three.
Pros: Different blur bands, which are easily adjusted; different blur types; different aperture types, bloom control; in-app help; pre-loaded test photos.
Cons: A cropping tool would be a nice addition; can’t export to social media.
Tilt-shifting is really a simple concept – define a narrow band of focus, and apply a high-quality blur gradient to the remainder, add saturation and curves, and there you have it. Three apps do tilt-shift very well – TiltShift by Imimux, Tilt Shift Video by Fidel Lainez, and Tilt Shift Generator by Art & Mobile. There are many mediocre and just plain bad ones, which I didn’t include in this piece.
The one feature that I would have liked to have seen is a curves control. This is just like contrast, but you can control the contrast in defined tonal ranges – usually the very light portions of the photo. High contrast in that range really goes a long way in providing that miniature effect of tilt-shift.
All-in-all, it’s still amazing that we can do tilt-shift photography on a little gadget that supposed to just make phone calls.
In the next article, we’ll explore creating tilt-shift videos on the iPhone.
Patrick Ashley is the editor and founder of. He lives in Pittsford, New York.
Table of contents
- ADVANCED GUIDES
- Tilt-Shift Apps for the iPhone