How to Use a Tilt-Shift Lens

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What exactly is a tilt-shift lens and how might it help improve your landscape photographs? In this video, professional landscape photographer, Steve Kossack, shows you how to use a tilt-shift lens.

In the high Arizona desert, Steve sets up to photograph a wide shot of a fallen log, the sandstone mounds and sky in the background. The challenge is to get all the elements in perspective, background to foreground. To frame the photograph the way he wants, Steve has to tilt the camera body off its axis, pointing it up or down, causing the image to be distorted through a loss of perspective. This is a situation when how to use a tilt-shift lens becomes important.

Steve explains, “The best way to find out if there is a loss of perspective is to simply look at your camera when you are shooting. If the camera body is not level, then it’s time to grab the tilt-shift lens.” Using the tilt-shift lens, Steve shows you how to set up your frame. First, you level the tilt-shift lens, horizontal and vertical, frame the composition, and then you focus, straighten up the frame, refocus, and shoot. As a backup exposure, he adds a graduated neutral density filter to hold back the bright sky. As always, he checks the histogram to make sure all the highlights register.

In this video on how to use a tilt-shift lens, Steve explains, “It demands patience, and trial and error. Basically, you become a large format photographer. It’s not aperture dependent.” Through the viewfinder, you see what you get at any aperture. Therefore, you can employ fast shutter speeds at a low f-stop without parts of the image going soft.

Join pro shooter, Steve Kossack, for more landscape photography tips as he shows you how to use a tilt-shift lens.