We Are Lilliputians in a Bathtub

I’ve been shooting sports and action images with a tilt/shift lens for about 5 years. It’s a fun look for certain applications. Not long after, my buddy Vincent got really excited about shooting the ol’ t/s from the air. Another cool look. Now you’ve seen us both shooting video through dSLRs with them – mine on the Nikon D90 and his on the Canon 5D MKII. We’ve been having fun goofing off with these things. But, that said, I haven’t seen many time lapse vids shot t/s. That’s why this here time-lapse video of the Sydney Harbor, shot by Keith Loutit, caught my eye. (I love the bit where the sailboats are all wiggling in the wind/waves, and when the ferry comes through…). Thanks Savan, via Gizmodo.

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This is great! Reminds me of a video a friend sent a while back of traffic in Viet Nam:

Now what I'd like to see is a slow shutterspeed time-lapse tilt-shifted infrared video. I might have to make that one myself.

Ian Mckenzie says:

Some times photography is just way too much fun!!!

And I was just going to break out my claymation tools…No Sport…

Now I just have to get in line for one of those cameras. Sweet Chase. I can see the apps are endless for this one.


Chris says:

That was amazing!

Cool. Reminds me of this video I edited called Dancing Boats.

Raymond says:

Great idea — now I know what time laps is for! I was kicking around writing an intervalometer script as an extension of my tethered shooting script but had no idea really what to do with it. I just wanted to write the script coz it would be a geeky sort of thing to do — running a Nikon dSLR from VBscript is just so fun/weird — but now I’d actually have something to use it for!

steph says:

Nice vide, and I love the music, I can’t find an album anywhere though, anyone know any more about ” Sonido Lasser Drakar” ?

WOw, this is hilarious,
What a fun way to start your day :)

Keith, great job !
Chase, thanks for sharing

Kyle says:

Can this sort of effect be achieved with lens babies? At least for still images I mean…

Terence says:

What I’ve found is that shooting from an elevated position, with a hard light (bright sunlight in the sky) to cast long shadows, gives a very good tilt-shift miniature effect.


It replicates the relatively shallow DOF of a macro shot and the long shadows suggests the scene is lit by a single light bulb – which is often how model train sets are lit.

The use of T/S lens allows you to change the DOF via the Schemipflug principle:


but you can use photoshop to achieve the same effect too. Obviously when you’re processing a time lapse video it’s a lot less computational work to get it right optically.

You also don’t need a video capture SLR to shoot time lapse. I shot this video on a 40D:


Just shoot a series of pics and open ‘em in your video editing software of choice as a sequentially numbered list of JPGs. :-)

That’s seriously an awesome vid.
You’re right, the ferry was cool with the 180 turn.

Elias Woo says:

i really am in love with tilt shift lenses! to bad i cant afford any. ha! but i cant wait to get the new lensbabys.

That is fantastic! Think I’m gonna rent me a Shift/Tilt for the weekend and have a play around with it

Cormac O’Kelly
Dublin, Ireland

To those thinking you need a video capture dSLR or even a tilt shit lens, you don’t, though it’d make the process much easier! you can still achieve this same effect with time lapse photography and that awesome lens blur tool in photoshop CS(3?). Just google “miniature photography” and read through the first hit.

garyallard says:

Too cool! I love it when technology meets whimsy.

Chase Jarvis says:

I’m happy about the manual focus on video – can control my own focus points and it’s really not a big deal, especially shooting f8. And since the sensor is so good with hi ISO if you don’t wanna worry about focus, you can keep the iso hiked and shoot wide depth of field (shooting kids and such). On the flipside, shooting short (1.4 or 1.8 or t/s) is a freakin’ blast with the D90.

Jin says:

I love my D90. what do you think about the lack of autofocus in video mode? I find it a bit annoying when shooting family video. But it’s not a big deal if I want to shoot more staged scenes.

Pete. says:

what, the knight rider theme gets no love? hahaha that’s a cool vid. can’t wait to pick up my 5D!

Guillaume Poulin says:

Wow! Very nice use of the T/S.

To answer Thiago’s question, I think that not only our brain links this kind of image to the shallow DOF of macro images, but that this replicates the actual way we see objects from very close.

Thiago Silva says:

I was listening to some Pink Floyd – Animals while watching the video. Definitely enhances the experience :-D

Any one know why exactly our brains are fooled to think of miniatures when looking at selective focus like this? Just being trained since birth to see macro photos with very shallow D.O.F.?

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