Looking at the shift aspect of tilt-shift iPhone photography together with a style of photography dubbed ministract (part minimal and part abstract).

‘Shifting’ in mobile photography

The phrase ’tilt-shift’ in photography is well known. It is often associated with giving a real life environment a ‘toy town’ appearance. In actual fact, tilt and shift are both different processes.

Tilt the focal plane

I looked in more detail at the other aspect of tilt-shift photography ’tilting’ in my tutorials on simulating the effect of freelensing in iPhone photography.

In its purest form, ’tilt-shift’ is controlled at the point of capture using specialist lenses. Typically in iPhone photography we would look to simulate their effect using apps. This article looks in more detail at the ‘shift’ element.

The purpose of ‘shift’ is to correct perspective distortion – for example make the vertical lines of buildings run parallel rather than converge as they do when photographed from ground level.


‘Ministract’ in mobile photography

Ministract photography forces us to view the world in a different way.

Ministract definition

Sometimes minimal, sometimes abstract and sometimes somewhere in between. My big hope is that they reveal an unexpected and slightly idiosyncratic take on the world.

Tom McLaughlan on his site ministract.com.

They say a picture speaks a thousand words so please visit Tom McLaughlan’s site to view some of his images.

My personal view is that there is rarely a right or wrong interpretation. Definitions are there for guidance to help others who follow define their own style. It may totally fit that definition or it may be influenced by it.

I’m not necessarily saying that this example image and process is Ministract. What I am saying though is that it was certainly influenced by Tom’s great images which have also influenced how I view the world around me.

iPhone photography apps used:

shift and ministract in iPhone photography

{ shift and ministract }



Process and apps used

ProCamera7 ~ initial capture:

Note that I have lined myself up pretty much perfectly to keep the various horizontal lines parallel. I also held my iPhone quite high above my head to minimise the converging vertical lines but clearly they were always going to be an issue:

procamera7 - converging parallel lines

Filterstorm ~ initial crop to square with the width defined by the edges of the concrete:

Note that at this stage I was unsure whether I would need to use Filterstorm to resize following the crop to maintain my 2,000px square minimum resolution. This is why I used Filterstorm for the crop. In the event I didn’t need to resize:

filterstorm - crop

FrontView ~ this is the app that does the shifting – one of two apps I have that do the job:

frontview - shift

FrontView (screen grab) ~ FrontView works by distorting the image:

The beauty with FrontView is that you can position each of the 4 corners where you would like them independently. Therefore it is possible to correct both vertical and horizontal issues at the same time:

In this case the only issue was the vertical convergence. When I correct, I normally pull the top corners down a little bit to stretch the image at the same time and reduce the effect of foreshortening due to distance:

frontview - screengrab

Snapseed ~ final crop:

I realise the question here is why crop twice and why the second time with Snapseed? The initial crop got me to the correct ratio and also to roughly the correct crop. I used Filterstorm at the time in case I needed to resize. However, the final crop was all about accuracy. Filterstorm and Snapseed crop in opposite ways:

Using Filterstorm you drag the image within gridlines and accuracy can be a little tricky. Using Snapseed you drag the gridlines over the image and because you can move a single corner of a fixed ratio grid the crop can be totally accurate without compromising the ratio:

shift and ministract in iPhone photography


Alternative shift app

The other iPhone photography shifting app that I use is Perspective Correct. I guess it comes down to choice. I like the ability of FrontView to ‘distort’ the horizontal and vertical alignments in an image in almost limitless ways. I believe it offers more option for image manipulation. I would however say that Perspective Correct more easily gives more accurate real life results and is simpler and much more fun to use:


Get the iPhoneography shift apps mentioned in this article

Other iPhoneography apps mentioned in this article


All of the apps used in this workflow are included in my ‘iPhone photography – 10 must have iPhoneography apps‘ article. Other iPhone photography workflows featuring only these apps can be viewed at my ‘essential iPhoneography apps archive‘.


I hope you enjoyed my iPhone photography workflow. Thank you for reading and I hope to see you again.



Shortlink: http://wp.me/p31VpY-1td

Related articles

If this article was of interest then these articles may also prove helpful.


  1. Thanks so much for the name check, Paul, and the very kind words. I agree with you completely that definitions are there as a guide and no more but FWIW this is definitely a ministract :)

  2. Geri says:

    As always a great tutorial. I tweeted this as part of #photoappfriday!

  3. […] Tutorial looking at the shift aspect of tilt-shift iPhone photography together with a style of photography dubbed ministract (part minimal / part abstract).  […]

  4. […] Tutorial looking at the shift aspect of tilt-shift iPhone photography together with a style of photography dubbed ministract (part minimal and part abstract).  […]

  5. Great tutorial Paul. I have definitely wanted to do this with some of my images where I was taking the picture from much lower and as a result made the vertical lines some what distorted and diagonal. I will check it out and continue to enjoy your blog and images:)

  6. […] ~ I’ve talking about simulating the shifting effect to correct vertical distortion in other workflows. I repeat the process […]

  7. […] Tutorial looking at the shift aspect of tilt-shift iPhone photography together with a style of photography dubbed ministract (part minimal / part abstract).  […]

Leave a Comment