Tilt-shifted astrophotography makes a huge universe feel tiny
posted Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 12:57 PM EST
Artificially applying a tilt-shift effect to a photo is a quick and dirty way of creating an intimate sense of scale — of making a scene feel like it's been shot in miniature with a very shallow depth of field. Its popularity with aerial photography and cityscapes has lead to it being a widespread digital tool, and one that has even found its way down to free apps like Instagram. But one person decided to make the biggest subjects you can imagine seem tiny — by tilt-shifting galaxies.
Reddit/imgur user ScienceLlama put together a gallery of eight different NASA astrophotography images, edited in Photoshop to create a tilt-shit effect. He took images of stellar objects that are unfathomably large, and by fooling our brain with a tilt-shift, made them look like tiny recreations. We've included a few below, but for the whole set click through to that link above.
If you're entranced by these edits, he posted some higher resolution ones on Reddit, suitable for desktop backgrounds and the like.
Of course, these images aren't even close to what an actual limited DOF would look like in an astronomical setting. These treat the scene as if it were on a simple plane, with just the middle area in focus, and things both closer and further away blurred. In reality, you'd have to map out where each star in the image is, its distance from the Earth, and then blur each one an appropriate amount to properly simulate distance and depth of field.
But we still think these photos are pretty neat anyway.