Conversations about life & privacy in the digital age

GIMP : Quick Tilt Shift Effect

We would like to introduce Ronnie Tucker – a prolific editor for Full Circle Magazine – who graciously agreed to contribute to the SpiderOak blog. Ronnie’s true passion is graphic design; as such, today he’ll talk a little about GIMP.

In the first of several GIMP posts, which I’ll be doing for SpiderOak, I’m going to show you some beginner to intermediate techniques. Things that people may think are only possible with Photoshop. If you’d like to read more about the absolute basics of GIMP then I’ll refer you to Full Circle magazine [FCM#12-19]. While I used an older version of GIMP in those issues the layout of GIMP has changed little in the passing years.

So, what is ‘tilt shift’? It’s the process whereby you take a photo and make it look like it’s actually a model. Some people can do it using cameras with tight depth of fields, but most apply a digital blur. Here’s how I do it.

Here’s the source image I’m going to use:

To achieve a tilt-shift, we need to apply a heavy blue to the foreground, and to the background. Enough to fool your brain into thinking that the photo can’t possibly be of something as large as an actual landscape.

First, click the rectangle select tool. Before doing anything else make sure you tick the box for ‘Feather Edges’ and move its slider up to about 50. If you don’t feather the edges you’ll get a sharp line where the blur ends and the unblurred image meet.

Now, left click on the far left, level with the road and then drag down to the bottom right of the picture:

Don’t worry if you over/undershoot the selection as you can move your pointer to the sides of the selection where you’ll see a bar, click and drag to resize your selection if you need to. The main thing here is to have the top of the selection just below where the road goes over the hill.

Now go to the menu and choose Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur. In the window that shows, make the horizontal value about 10, and click OK.

If you can see a little chain link icon between the horizontal and vertical then they are linked so changing one should change the other. If not, click the broken chain link icon and it should link the two values.

Now we need to select the background. This may seem a bit of a daunting task, but we don’t need to be too specific here.

Click the ‘Free Select Tool’ and loosely draw around the outline of the treeline then out of the image around the edge of the image and back to where you started. If the start point and end points aren’t exactly the same press the Enter key and it’ll connect them automatically and complete the selection.

Again, back to Filters > Blur > Gaussian Blur and use a value of about 10. Click OK to apply the blur.

Click Select > None in the menu to see the resulting image.

Now that wasn’t difficult was it?

Play around with the blur values. Choose lower values and the tilt-shift effect won’t work as it doesn’t fool your brain. Higher values will work, but too much and it’ll spoil the effect.

Remember to back up your work! If you would like to read more of Ronnie’s work as well as ask him any question, he’d love to hear from you!

A Little About Our Freedom Photo Contest Winner

We had a fantastic number of contestants. The photographic interpretation of freedom was interestingly wide. As suspected, it means something slightly different to all of us. The freedom photo contest allowed the important creative talent to shine and we appreciate all the entries and votes. Expressing freedom is important to all and it certainly has shown.

We caught up with contest winner, Terry Jones, to learn a little more about the winning photo:

“The reason I chose this picture, was in no small part due to the ‘relief’ and ‘Freedom’ a parent feels when their children are sleeping. Usually at the age of my daughter (6 months old, at the time), getting your child to sleep is a hard thought and demanding process. Once they are asleep, only then are you released, and set free for that small window of time, thus allowing me to further enjoy using my cloud storage at SpiderOAK.”

As our grand prize winner, Jones will receive $100 and 100 GBs.

When we asked Jones how he will use the winnings, he replied:

“I plan on taking my two kids to Chipmunks Playland which is a childrens indoor activity center, as well as get them some new clothes I guess.”

We encourage you to post your congratulations in the comments section below. You can see all the stunning entries on our Freedom Photo Contest Album on our Facebook or Flickr page.

What Does Freedom Mean To You As A Cloud User?

There’s been plenty of talk surrounding The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This bill had the consequence of allowing the US Government to ‘police’ the Internet and restrict peoples freedom to share content with others. We at SpiderOak – like many of our colleagues – found this simply unacceptable. And as all the voices rose up to combat the bill, thankfully it has currently been removed from consideration. At SpiderOak we believe in providing a FREE, innovative and private online backup, synchronization, and flexible sharing solution. So we’d like to get you involved in something special.

What does freedom mean to you?

Personally – freedom occupies the number one position on my values list. Nothing is more important. I neither take it for granted nor do I ever allow myself to be complacent about the many freedoms I enjoy personally. Others are of course free to agree or disagree. With this in mind and in the spirit of self expression, we would like you to show us how you feel.

Show us what freedom means to you!

First – Post your best photo interpretation of FREEDOM to the Facebook fan page wall. Your entry will be moved to the “Freedom Photo Contest Album” on the Facebook fan page from now until February 29, 2012.

Second – Each participant is only allowed one entry. Submit your best photo interpretation of freedom.

Third – Ask your friends to ‘Like,’ and/or follow SpiderOak on Facebook, Twitter. On Facebook, visit the designated album on Facebook and ‘like’ your entry. 50% of your rating will be based on the number of likes your photo received.

Fourth – The winning 3 photos by midnight CST on February, 29 2012 will be awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. Details of how these are judged are listed below.

Fifth – Participant grants SpiderOak perpetual license to use photos submitted for advertising and collateral.

Instructions for Twitter::
Follow @SpiderOak on twitter.
Simply tweet: “Just entered to win money in the #FreedomPhotoContest! Follow @SpiderOak and retweet my picture if you like it. Thanks!”

The grand prize winner will have his/her photo published on our blog and a little about yourself.

  • Grand prize: $100 and a 100 GB SpiderOak Account
  • 1st runner up: $50 and a 50 GB SpiderOak Account
  • 2nd runner up: $25 and a 25 GB SpiderOak Account
  • Winners will be informed via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. NOTE: Sorry everyone – due to restrictions, Google+ entries will not be a consideration for this contest.

    Judging Guidelines:

  • 50% – number of ‘likes’
  • 25% – picture quality
  • 25% – Idea Content. Originality.
  • There you have it! Be creative and have fun. Share your passion with the world and remind yourself and others how important freedom is to you and us all.