Mr. Roger’s Tilt Shift Neighborhood

Fred Rogers with the Neighborhood Seen on his show. ONE TIME USE
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By Denise Dougherty of Sunshine Spirit Photography

Are you old enough to remember the television show, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood? The opening scene was a model mock-up of the perfect little neighborhood. That is a fine example of tilt shift photography images, and perhaps nostalgia has something to do with why these types of photos are adored. They’re colorful, cute, and they tend to make this big world around us feel a bit cozier.

There are several methods to achieving this look in a photo. One is to purchase a lens. Lensbaby came out with a series of lenses in 2004, fairly inexpensive and compatible with all of the big name slr’s camera companies. A Nikon or Canon tilt shift can run you up to a couple of thousand dollars.

Toys Of Switzerland
Creative Commons License photo credit: VinothChandar

Another technique is to use Photoshop. Okay, so it’s not a look that you get sooc (straight out of the camera), but it can be decently achieved when using the right photo and Photoshop tools. Due to the nature of the shot needing to look like a model, an aerial view of something would help give it the right effect. So, photos from high places, such as a tall building, a rooftop, ferris wheel, helicopter, or a bridge would lend itself to a workable photo. It would also help to have clusters of the same subject type, such as people on a boardwalk, running a race or in a parade. Another idea that works well is to photograph large motor vehicles like busses, trucks, trains, airplanes or boats. A few simple steps in Photoshop, like pumping up the hue and blurring part of the image will give you a cute little tilt shift photo!

By blurring a large portion of the photo and leaving just a small slice, about 1/3-1/4 of the photo in focus, you create a shallow depth of field. There is also a site called that will help you transform your sooc images into tilt shift works of art.

Tilt-shift photography images are fun and are becoming pretty popular. I personally feel a bit like a kid in a toyshop when I view these photos because they look like a fun toy to play with. Tilt shifts are fun shots that would look great in a kids’ room. As kids’ room décor is becoming a bit more sophisticated, this still gives a child-like feel, but has a mature look to it as well. I also think they’d be a great addition to an office, as they are fun and can attract positive energy to the place you probably need to seek a little joy when you look up from your desk.

These shots can also make a great 365 project or 52-week project for photographers, because we love to challenge ourselves and look for inspiration. By purchasing a special lens, using your Photoshop techniques, or scanning for tilt shift software on the internet, the project is all about having fun and learning something new.

UPDATE:  I’ve found a Tilt Shift Photoshop plugin that can achieve this affect called:  FocalPoint 2  Try it out for free and don’t forget to use our exclusive 15% OFF coupon code: vizphotoguide 

3 Responses to Mr. Roger’s Tilt Shift Neighborhood

  1. Brian Kearney says:
    Great article with great tips!!!!
  2. Great article – and yes, I remember Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood ;)
  3. jim says:
    thanks Brian and Stephanie! Stay tuned for many articles to come on a more regular basis.

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