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Do As Tokyo Does Tokyo in Miniature
(Entered Oct. 19, 2009)
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Are you one of those people who enjoy, or used to enjoy building miniature scale models? Sure most of us, guys especially, probably built a few model cars or planes when we were kids. The more enterprising ones took it to the next level and built sets and landscapes for their model trains and such, but how about building miniature scale models of some of Tokyo's most famous areas complete with buildings, cars and people? Truly a monumental undertaking as the below photos show....

Shibuya Station, Bus and Taxi Terminal
tilt shift tokyo shibuya

Ok ok, I'm pulling your leg, but you might have been fooled for a second or two. The effect you're seeing is known as 'tilt-shift photography' which creates an optical illusion of miniaturized scenery from a life sized image. There are two ways to accomplish this. The best way to go about it is to get yourself a tilt-shift lens. Tilt-shift lenses aren't cheap though, costing upwards of $2,500, so a cheaper option is to modify a regular photograph in Photoshop (assuming you have it), which can create a fairly good impression of said technique.

Yoyogi Park
tokyo tilt shift yoyogi park

For the best results you'll need to take the pictures from an elevated position, which enhances the effect of looking down on a miniature model.

Yoyogi Park
tokyo tilt shift yoyogi park

I tried this technique for the first time and my shots are definitely only so-so. When applying the tilt-shift effect in Photoshop, I quickly learned that to get the best result your shots shouldn't be too 'busy', meaning the immediate foreground and the background should be relatively uncluttered.

Harajuku, Meiji Shrine Entrance
tokyo tilt shift harajuku

You don't need to spend thousands of dollars on a tilt-shift lens, but at the least you'll need a lens that can shoot at a fairly wide angle.

Harajuku Station
tokyo tilt shift harajuku

To give your 'fake-miniatures' a more 'plastic' feel, it helps to oversaturate them a bit. I shot in RAW as you can more effectively accomplish this compared to jpeg.
To make your own tilt-shift images with Photoshop follow this very simple explantion here.

Shinjuku, Near Takashimaya
tokyo tilt shift shinjuku


Shinjuku Station, South Exit Area
tokyo tilt shift shinjuku


Shinjuku Station, South Exit Area
tokyo tilt shift shinjuku


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