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One of my favorite things about digital photography is being able to manipulate old photographs and turn them into something completely different. This photo is pretty boring in it's original form (left) so I decided to play with something called the Tilt Shift effect which makes everything look like it's in miniature (right).

There are special lenses out there that create this look organically. However, I'm still struggling to save up for this big girl camera with all the whistles and bells. That will be a very, very long time from now at this rate. So for now I use my fave editor the GIMP!

I do have an old copy of Photoshop and also PSP, but I prefer the GIMP because it provides just about everything Photoshop does and it's free! I'm a big supporter of programs like this and Open Office who make their products accessible to the every day user. Go grab yourself a copy!

Anyhow, why don't you give it a try, it's really easy! Here's how you get this look in GIMP:

1. This really works best with a photo looking down on the subject, Particularly well if it's at an interesting angle as opposed to a direct bird's eye view.

2. After you open your photo, you'll want to toggle the Quick Mask. You can do so by either clicking the little dotted box at the bottom left of the photo tray, using the Select menu and choosing Toggle Quick Mask or hitting Shift+Q.

3. Choose the gradient tool which can be found in the Gimp bar and looks like a little black square fading to white. Once selected, go to the drop down menu below and set the gradient to Bi-Linear.

4. Choose your focal point of the photo. In my example I chose the woman in black at the center of the shot. Click and drag away from that point and you'll see the red mask turn into a smaller red, blurry line. Adjust this until you get the size you want.

5. Toggle Quick Mask again and the mask with disappear, leaving behind a bunch of marching ants (selection) where your gradient was. Now go up to Filters>Blur>Gaussian Blur. I prefer to set my blur to somewhere around 10 but you can play with this setting as you like.

6. Once the blur is set, go to Select>All. This clears your current selection and now you can see the photo without the marching ants running through the middle of it.

7. Go to Color>Curves and play with it until you get the desired look. Brightness/Contrast control can also get you similar effects. That's what made the image darker and more crisp.

So! Give it a try and show me your results! It's such a simple little effect and I've applied it to half a dozen images now.

Also, check out this fun Tilt Shift video:


Beached from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

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