Have a look at the images below and tell me why all these landscapes are so blurred? What can be the motive behind doing that? The blurred part is mostly at the top half of the images.

Image 1 Image 2 Image 3


3 Answers 3


BCdotWEB's answer does an excellent job of explaining how this effect is done, and I just wanted to chime in a little about a possible why.

Tilt-shift is used to make real life, full-sized landscapes look like miniature models: people appear as dolls, massive buildings become nothing more than toys. A major theme throughout the Sherlock BBC series is how Sherlock's incredible analytical mind leaves him struggling to relate to others as fellow humans rather than puzzles to be solved, and his analytical skills often takes him into conflict with larger-than-life villains (such as Moriarty) who openly view other humans as nothing more than toys to play with and discard.

Looking at the series through this lens, the tilt shift effect turning London into a model set filled with living dolls can be interpreted as a way to metaphorically show the city through the perspective of the geniuses, good and evil, who the series revolves around.

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    If this is the real reason behind using Tilt-shift photography in the shots, then I must say it's pure genius. Your answer to "why" sounds very plausible. Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 7:56
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    I used to consider this effect a bit over-used in Sherlock; for me the novelty wore off quickly. This explanation of how it re-enforces the themes within Sherlock's personality is brilliant insight. Thank you!
    – CCTO
    Commented Apr 1, 2020 at 16:57
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    Sherlock was made during that time tilt-shift was vogue and used in everything - ads, music videos, title sequences. Like shaky-cam a decade earlier.
    – Alan B
    Commented Apr 2, 2020 at 12:07
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    I would suggest a simpler explanation: the tilt-shift effect suggests looking through a magnifying glass, which Holmes is famous for doing
    – binaryfunt
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 11:15

This is due to the tilt-shift photography:

Tilt-shift photography is a creative and unique type of photography in which the camera is manipulated so that a life-sized location or subject looks like a miniature-scale model. Essentially, it’s taking a photograph of a real-world scene and making it look like a miniature scene, such as you’d find in a model railroader’s setup. This, as shown above, was used in the opening credits of Sherlock, along with other shots of London. Tilt shift photography can be done with the help of a lens which is capable of tilting and shifting or, more usually, it can easily be processed in Photoshop almost under a minute by people who are experienced with this process.

An explanation:

Tilt shift lenses allow the lens to be tilted at an angle tho the focal plane – normal lenses are parallel to the focal plane. This creates the unusual effect of an apparent shallow depth of field where there wouldn’t normally be one. In practical terms – tilt shift images look like miniatures or models. This happens because we are conditioned by our familiarity with miniature macro photography and its inherent shallow depth of field.

Here is someone who recreated it using stock footage:

  • The video was quite informative but doesn't making the shots a little blurry look very odd. I mean the final aim is always to make the shot soothing to an eye but in this case, it looked kinda odd. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 14:24
  • Also, these are shots of the real objects, right? Then why not show them as they're. It's just that I don't know much about photography. They must have done it for a purpose but I fail to understand it. Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 14:41
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    I'd thought the first one looked like tilt-shift, but the pics were all a bit unclear so I didn't investigate further. Nice find on the making of vid :)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Mar 31, 2020 at 15:11
  • "This happens because we are conditioned by our familiarity with miniature macro photography and its inherent shallow depth of field." I theorize that this effect would even work if macro photography hadn't been invented: looking closely at small things with our own eyes creates a similar depth of field effect!
    – smcs
    Commented Apr 3, 2020 at 12:10

It's definitely on purpose. Being an artistic choice, I can only speculate on the "why," but I do have a guess.

Tilt-shift creates a miniature effect, an interesting way to represent how Sherlock stands over the petty concerns of mere mortals. We scurry about, our boring lives as monotonous to him as the spinning of a hamster wheel, and he captures it all with his godlike intellect.


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