How to Correct Perspective with Photoshop and Lightroom 5


Empress Hotel Carved Wood-Victoria B.C.

Empress Hotel Carved Wood-Victoria B.C.

Easy Perspective Correction for those Crooked Lines

It happens to us all the time.  Our photos have distortion and converging lines.  Sometimes the cause is wide angle lens distortion and other times it’s convergence from the focal plane of our camera not being parallel to the lines in our scene.

The most common example of convergence is shooting a building from the ground and having to tilt your camera upwards to capture the entire building.  The resulting image has converging lines making the building look like it’s leaning backwards.  This effect can be eliminated by using an expensive tilt-shift lens or by doing a simple perspective correction in Photoshop.

Most of the time I’m not too bothered by converging lines like this. It depends on the image but usually I don’t correct it.  Actually, when you look at a tall building from the ground, the lines you see actually do this so it’s not unrealistic to leave some convergence on your photos.

If you do architectural photography, then you will probably want to correct the perspective to render all the lines nice and straight and tidy.

There are other occasions when you just don’t or can’t get your camera setup right to keep the important lines heading the right direction and end up with a terribly warped image like the one I had to deal with for this post.

The last common cause of distortion that we want to correct is the result of using a very wide-angle lens.  Objects at the sides of the frame can get terribly out of whack. This happens to me a lot because I use my 11-16mm wide-angle about 95% of the time.

We can correct all of these distortions very easily using Photoshop’s perspective distortion correction tool.  This short video shows you how.

News flash! Lightroom 5 Beta has Automatic Perspective Correction built-in!

As I’m writing this post, Adobe is announcing its new Lightroom 5 Beta to the public. According to the information I’m seeing, this newest version of Lightroom has automatic perspective correction built into it.  This is, of course, terrific news for beginning HDR photographers who don’t want to spend the big bucks for Photoshop. In fact, this news is most delightful because the HDR workflow I use and recommend for beginning HDR photographers uses only Lightroom for image processing.  So as soon as Lightroom 5 is released, the distortion correction in this post will be available even to my beginning HDR photographers!  Pretty cool.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Reply

    I wish people would spend more time straightening their lines! So frustrating looking at something that’s crooked!

  • Layerform

    I think Photoshop CS6 deals a lot better with perspective correction than CS5 and this is actually what made me upgrade to be honest. I’ve never used Lightroom because of working as a digital artist, i do all my post-processing in Photoshop so i’m a bit stubborn that way.

    That being said, great article and i’m really considering downloading lightroom.

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