The respawn of the diorama effect


The diorama effect, that some people abusively call “tilt-shift” (instead of “tilt-shift (simulation) for miniature faking”) has been quite popular on the Web for a few months and some people have made SaaS websites for it: or TiltShift Generator, for instance, this spawned this kind of group on flickr.

“Tilt-shift photography” in general refers to the use of perspective control (PC) lenses (that allow more control over perspective for architecture photography) movable on two axes, being able to tilt and shift when mounted on a camera. Simulating the effect achieved by using such lenses and narrow depth of field should be not be called “tilt-shift (photography)”, the correct name is “diorama effect”, or “miniature faking”.

I decided I wanted to learn how the illusion worked that well, and it seems it’s because of conditioning.

Depth of field is reduced as focusing distance decreases, this makes for very narrow depth of field for macrophotography, and this is were the conditioning comes from: the shallower the depth of field, the smaller it seems. There are other ways to make the miniature faking even more believable, such as using the right angle, indeed, if the picture is too level, it it only looks blurry, not small. Digital techniques allow for easy simulation of the optical tilt of a lens and selective blurring using depth mapping or not, is relatively easy.

Now that there are some “apps” for iOS and Android, the trend seems to be thriving.