Tiltshift lenses provide so much more than the selective focus-look we all know so well.
Photo: IAN PLANT
Plant used shift (to keep the trees vertical) and tilt (to keep all the trilliums in focus) on his 24mm f/3.5L Canon TS-E lens on a Canon EOS 5D. Exposure, 2.5 sec at f/16. For more on this technique, go to PopPhoto.com/tiltshift.
This funny though real term refers to the apparent near-infinite depth of field achieved by tilting a T/S lens in a certain way relative to the subject. Besides the great depth, it has another advantage: You can achieve the effect with fairly moderate apertures, and hence use faster shutter speeds. That’s why nature photographers like T/S lenses—they allow a fast enough shutter speed to keep wildflowers from blurring on a breezy day.
How it works: By tilting the plane of focus in the same direction as the plane of the subject, you get much more of that subject plane in focus, near to far. Technically this isn’t increased depth of field, which is simply the zone of “acceptable” sharpness for a lens focused conventionally. With Scheimpflug, the image is actually in focus at various points along the subject plane.
How to do it: Trial and error. To start, zero the lens tilt, and focus about one-third into the zone you want to keep sharp. Then tilt or swing the lens toward the subject plane: For the flower in the foreground and tree midground, you’d tilt downward; for a picket fence at an angle to you, you’d swing the lens sideways toward the fence. Then fiddle with focus again. Then fiddle with tilt again—and repeat. Check depth of field by stopping down the lens to shooting aperture. A tripod, of course, is mandatory.