Por­trai­ture with a twist

Dis­cover how a tilt-shift lens can give your por­traits a new creative twist

NPhoto - - Contents -

Tilt-shift lenses are usu­ally thought of in terms of ar­chi­tec­tural and land­scape pho­tos, as the abil­ity they give you to cor­rect col­laps­ing ver­ti­cals comes in use­ful for pho­tograph­ing build­ings, interiors or wide scenes. How­ever, these spe­cial­ist lenses can also have an equally in­ter­est­ing im­pact on other types of pho­tog­ra­phy, such as por­trai­ture. When we turn a tilt-shift lens on a per­son, we can use the tilt fea­ture to change the an­gle of the plane of fo­cus, ei­ther to in­ten­tion­ally blur parts of the frame, or to ex­tend sharp­ness across the sub­ject.

A tilt-shift lens (or Per­spec­tive-Con­trol lens, as Nikon calls the 24mm PC-E used here) gives you two di­als that let you change the an­gle of the lens in re­la­tion to the cam­era’s sen­sor. The tilt con­trol ef­fec­tively lets you ro­tate the lens el­e­ments to the left or right, thereby shift­ing the plane of fo­cus. The shift con­trol off­sets the lens up or down, giv­ing the ef­fect of chang­ing the cam­era po­si­tion along the ver­ti­cal plane. We can also ro­tate the ori­en­ta­tion of the lens body, so that we can tilt on the ver­ti­cal axis and shift on the hor­i­zon­tal.

When we let this pair of con­trols loose on a por­trait shoot, we can get some weird and won­der­ful re­sults…

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