The Weekly Photo – June 6 – Tilt Shift Magic

©Darwin Wiggett

The photo above was taken on the Spring Photo Tour in the Canadian Rockies. I shot this image at sunset at the Kootenay Plains Reflecting Pools (my unofficial name for the place – click on the photo to see it larger). I used a Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens for three distinct advantages:


First, I used the shift feature to correct the perspective in the scene. With a normal 24mm lens the camera would be pointed down to take in the foreground deer skeleton and the trees in the background would distort and look like they are falling into the frame – yech! With the shift feature on the 24 TS-E lens, I simply leveled the camera back so that it was parallel to the trees and then shifted the lens down to take in the deer skeleton. The result are straight trees in the background with no distortion.

Second,  I  also used the shift feature to give me a wider field of view than a 24mm lens can give. In a single frame I could just get the skeleton and the tops of the mountain in the scene, nothing more. I wanted more sky than the 24mm lens could take in, so I shifted the lens up and took a second photo which was easily merged into a wider rectangle using Photo Merge in Photoshop CS5.

Finally, I used the tilt feature for enhanced depth-of-field. With tilt I got everything sharply focused from near to far by tilting into the plane of focus (see scheimpflug rule). Tilt can give you depth-of-filed from inches from the lens to infinity – very cool!

If you don’t know the advantages and creative power of Tilt Shift lenses for landscape photography and if you want to try out and learn how to use Tilt Shift lenses (Canon or Nikon) then be sure to come out to a seminar and field workshop by Samantha and I entitled: The Tilt-Shift Lens Advantage for Outdoor and Nature Photographers where we will demystify these powerful tools and show how they can be used in an easy to understand way. This hands on session is limited to 15 spots and we’ll have lenses on hand or bring your own lenses. The session is held in Calgary, June 11 1-4PM – see this link or email or call 403-234-9935 for more information.

Speaking of Samantha, she has just published an article for those unsure of using Social Media in photography – To Tweet or not to Tweet – check it out to see if you are a tweeter or not. So far I haven’t taken the plunge into the the twittery world….

And those of you who are fans of eBooks and like to promote the ones you find useful to friends and colleagues we are happy to announce that both Visual Wilderness (VW) and How to Photograph the Canadian Rockies (HTPTCR) websites now offer affiliate programs so that you get a percentage of any referrals you make. Help us spread the word and get paid and buy new camera goodies!

VW Affliate Program

HTPTCR Affliate Program

Finally, Here is one more sample of how to use the shift feature on Tilt Shift lenses to create megapixel wide scenes:

I took these three photos below with the lens shifted up, in the center position and then shifted down. In Photoshop all three images overlapped perfectly and Photo Merge in Photoshop CS5 aligned them perfectly into the final image (the fourth one below – from the Kootenay Plains Reflecting Pool – click to see the photo larger).

Lens shifted up

Center image - no shift

Lens shifted down

Final Image


21 Responses to “The Weekly Photo – June 6 – Tilt Shift Magic”

  1. I’ve never used a Tilt Shift lens, but I’ve been impressed by the results that others have. Someday….

  2. Yes, superb lenses, and something sadly lacking from my bag. $2K for the Nikon 24mm would be a nice Christmas present. (beautiful images)

  3. Just 2 words, Outstanding image! If I were a SLR camera user, TS lenses would be the one to play with all the time. Someone said to me it could be done on photoshop, but they do not know how fun it is working on a actual camera at field. I know it is really fun. But Schimpflug rule…that is the one I have avoided to read, giving me headache.

  4. Those are two great photographs Darwin. After your little demo on the winter tour, I had to go buy a tilt shift lens. I love it! I just wish Nikon’s live view was as good as Canon’s for focusing.

    • Samantha learned a great trick about live view with Nikon’s. Nikon’s stop the lens down to the shooting aperture, so if you are using f11, the LCD will be dark and also will be showing you the DOF at f11 so it is hard to get precise focus. Open up your lens to f2.8 to focus and set the tilt on your lens. Then go to your chosen aperture to shoot.

  5. Good Stuff. I’ve never looked into these lenses before. Thanks 🙂

  6. Very impressive! I would love to have session with you guys, maybe some day…

  7. I have rented a 24mm TS lens for my 5DMkII few times so far. One thing I noticed is that when I shift it all the way I get a good portion of the frame dark. Maybe 15 % of it.

  8. Wow, thanks for the tip on opening up the aperture for focusing with the nikon! It worked great, even when it was getting dark. I was finally able to make an image with sharp focus front to back. It’s up on my blog if you want to see. Thanks again Darwin. And thank Sam for figuring it out too.

  9. Hi Darwin

    Just wondering if you might do an e-book for tilt and shift lenses for those of us that can’t just hop on a plane to get to your lectures?


  10. These are superb images, Darwin. it is exciting that this type of lens allows you to do much of what the old view cameras did. It raises the bar and has the potential to take digital landscape photography to a whole new level again.

  11. Tim Ball Says:

    I’m getting interested in acquiring a TS-E 24mm. How about ND Grad filtration and exposure with those merge shots though? Do you keep it constant for each shot or vary it! There’s so little about this anywhere else. That’s a beauty by the way, thanks for sharing.

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