This is a large format camera:
Unlike your digital camera (which most likely doesn't even need you to focus), or an old-school SLR film camera (which only needs focus, shutter speed, and aperture), a large format camera has a lot of controls. Check out how each piece moves in 3 dimensions in the picture below:
2 of the adjustments you can make are called tilt and shift. Without getting TOO technical, what you're doing is moving different focus planes to interact with each other in a way that you can't really do with other cameras, thus selecting a certain region of the film to be in focus. There are modern tools that can do this on modern cameras (even digital!) - for example, lensbaby.com offers a lens that can make those adjustments. What will this do for you? You may remember this picture from a previous blog entry:
So, if you don't have an extra $350 to spend on a lens (ok, let's face it, you're going to use it to buy video games and Mt. Dew), you can still acheive this same effect with a Gaussian Blur. It's a great effect. You take a picture of normal sized people and magically they become miniatures!
Select a round (circular or oval-shaped) selection around the center, in focus, portion of your photo. Invert your selection and feather it by a lot. 100 pixels isn't too many. Select Gaussian Blur from the filters section and experiment with settings. Can you make a photo look like these?
Email me *your* contributions at justin(at)internaldrive.com (@ symbol left out intentionally to prevent robotic spam crawling!) and I'll post the best ones in a future entry.