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Tilt Shift Manual Method for Photoshop Elements (Any Version)


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Tilt Shift Overview
Tilt Shift Effect
Text and screen shots © Liz Masoner. Source photo via Creative Commons.

Tilt shift is a very old photographic effect that has found new life through technology. Tilt shift results in a real life scene looking like a miniature model. There is a small horizontal band of sharp focus with the rest of the image thrown out of focus and colors are exaggerated. The original bellows cameras (the ones with the pleated fabric connecting the lens to the camera body) were the original tilt shift. The lens literally tilted and shifted to find focus and perspective on the subject. Now, you either buy very expensive specialty lenses to recreate this effect or work in digital editing.

For this tutorial, I'll show you how to manually produce the tilt shift effect in Photoshop Elements. What's nice about this manual method is that you can use it no matter what version of Photoshop Elements you have. However, if you have Photoshop Elements 11 or higher, you may want to skip to our tutorial about the guided method of creating the tilt shift effect.

Please note: The layer masks feature used in this tutorial was introduced in Photoshop Elements 9, but if you have an older version, you can add the layer masks feature using the Free Layer Mask Tool for Photoshop Elements.

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