Today on The Slanted Lens, we are shooting out at the Yanks Air Museum in Chino, California. Here we will look at the process of using a Tilt-Shift lens for focus control.
Before we break into the lighting lesson, we will talk about how the Tilt-Shift lens works and how we will use it as a creative focus tool for our shoot today. I have a 45mm 2.8 Tilt-Shift lens. I like the focal length because it gives me a great focus effect, and I can use it in smaller spaces without distortion when shooting people.
For the lighting lesson, we are going to set up inside the C47 with the 82nd Airborne. The door will be open, and we will direct smoke to ﬂow into the door from the Rosco 1700. We will not ﬁght the sun but set the color balance to tungsten and let the sunlight go blue.
I will be shooting at 200th of a second shutter speed and f5.0. The ISO is set at 160. This will allow us to shoot strobes inside the airplane and balance them with the sunlight streaming in the door. We will be using Dynalite strobes today to light our scene.
#1 If I stand straight on to my subject and point my camera straight at the subject, then the background will fall out of focus equally on both sides.
#2 Here is an example of that.
#3 If I swing the lens to the right, the subject and the left side of the background will come into focus, and the right side of the background will fall out of focus.
#4 Here is a close-up image. The subject and the front nose of the Airplane are in focus as we swing right
#5 When I swing the lens to the left, my subject and the right side of the background will be in focus.
#6 We see the left side of the background is very out of focus, and the right side over his shoulder is sharper.
#7 Here is another image representing this principle, where the lens is swinging to the right. In these last few shots, the lens is only swinging right or left, not up or down. Let’s now look at tilting the lens up and down. On the side of the lens, we can rotate the lens 90 degrees and now the swing from right to left becomes an up and down tilt.
#8 Again, if I stand straight on to my subject and point my camera straight at the subject, then the background will fall out of focus equally on both sides.
#9 Here is an example of that principle.
#10 As I tilt the lens up, the background above the head will go out of focus and the foreground in the front will come into focus.
#11 If I stay in a waist up shot, the foreground will not be seen in the camera view, and it looks like the only thing in focus is the person’s face.
#12 Now as I tilt the lens down, the background behind the person will be in focus and the foreground will be out of focus.
#13 Here is an example of that. Let’s see how we applied these principles in our shoot today, seen below.
#14 Here is our first shot with just the door sunlight. We will now add an OctoDome bouncing into a 39-inch LitePanel. The soft light of the box even becomes softer as we bounce the light out of the reflector. The area is very tight and space is a consideration. We were able to push the reflector against the wall of the airplane and keep the OctoDome out of the way.
#15 Here is the shot with the soft key light. The light is just behind the talent, so it lets shadow fall toward the camera and looks like the light is coming from the door. We now added a Dynalite travel head shooting through two layers of diffusion material that we taped in the airplane doorway.
#16 This becomes a nice fill light to open up the shadows. The Rosco smoker created a look of clouds out the door and hid the fact that we were on the ground. The tilt swing lens was swung to the right making the background out of focus on both sides. The door is very out of focus. The other soldiers are out of focus as well. Here are some of the final images.
#17 With the lens swung to the right, I can walk the focus along the row of men and only focus on a single person.
#18 I love the focus singling out the person up front.
#19 We finished the shoot off with shots at the door using the natural light coming through the door. I moved the color balance back to daylight and allowed the sun to stream into the plane through the smoke. The lens is swung to the right, and the two on the right are in focus.
#20 Here the lens is swung to the left, and the man on the right is out of focus. This keeps the emphasis on the man at the door.
I do love the Tilt-Shift lenses. There are, however, a few things to consider. It’s hard to focus and takes a lot of concentration. The auto features do not work. Auto focus does not work and getting an exposure is a bit tough. It’s best to set the exposure when the lens is not swung and keep the exposure as you swing or tilt shoot. They look great for weddings and portraits and give you such a great look. They are a bit expensive but are a great rent from a place like LensProToGo. If you have a project, renting is a great option.
We had a great time at the Yanks Air Museum. They were wonderful to us. Thanks go out to them for allowing us to work there with the 82nd Airborne.
Keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!