Digital tilt-shift effect tools are popular because they give images a retro ‘old-camera’ look and, in the right circumstances, can make a real-life subject look like a miniature model. But first some physics. Digital tilt-shift effects are rarely accurate. They only work if your whole subject is on a single flat, receding plane. If you have any objects sticking up vertically, the top and bottom will be blurred along with the near and far parts of the picture, and that’s not right. However, if the subject is suitable, and the effect is otherwise convincing, then other people might not notice.

Tilt-shift effect MacPhun Focus CK

This is the perfect scene. We’re looking down at an angle from a high vantage point on to a city scene which is receding into the distance. With a carefully-placed linear, or tilt-shift gadget and well-chosen blur and blend settings, this looks half-way convincing as a little model – well, more than half-way convincing, we hope.

It’s been done using MacPhun Focus CK. Like other ‘bokeh’ plug-ins, this one offers both linear (tilt-shift) and elliptical bokeh tools. An elliptical bokeh shape is going to work better on a portrait, for example.