Here is a Method that is Helping Photographers With Perspective Control

Ask any architectural photographer and he’ll tell you that nobody likes perspective projection distortion in their images. But you don’t have to be an architectural photographer to feel this way. Distortion in photography can ruin a perfectly lit and composed image. However, there are quick methods for perspective control you can try right now without spending money on new equipment.

Software used in this tutorial: Photoshop CC and Adobe Lightroom 5.
If you wish to follow along, you can use your own image or download the DNG file used in this tutorial. The zip file is about 28MB. Download speeds may vary. Download now.

The Upright Feature in Camera Raw 8 and Lightroom 5

In Camera Raw 8 and Lightoom 5 we now have the Upright feature for perspective control. A small adjustment in perspective can drastically improve an image that you otherwise may have wanted to delete. With tools under the Lens Corrections panel, in Camera Raw 8 or Lightroom 5, you can apply perspective correction to your images.

The options we are about to discuss give you powerful perspective control you can start using today. The results may surprise you.  We’ll start working in Photoshop Camera Raw and then move to Adobe Lightroom 5.

1. Go to the Lens Corrections Panel for Upright Options

If you’ve downloaded my original Raw file, go ahead and open it in Photoshop Camera Raw. Otherwise use your own. Once in Camera Raw, go to the Lens Corrections panel and ensure that the Manual tab is selected. Tools in the Lens Corrections panel allow you to apply a perspective correction to single or multiple images.

Camera Raw Perspective Corrections

The Five Upright Options for a Perspective Correction

Do you see five options (icons) under the Upright section? Place your cursor over each icon to find out what it does. The very first one is called Off. It cancels any Upright adjustments. The A, or Auto, icon automatically straightens an image. The next icon is Level. It allows you to apply only level corrections. The Vertical icon applies level and vertical perspective corrections. Last but not least is the Full icon which I’ll explain in the next step.

2. Select the Full Icon For Level, Full, Horizontal & Vertical Corrections

The Full icon lets us apply level, horizontal and vertical perspective corrections. If you’re making corrections to my Raw file, the perspective of the building will change as soon as you select the Full icon. Notice how the image comes forward, while some areas are cropped. We’ll recover the cropped areas with the Transform options in the next step.

Camera Raw Perspective Corrections

Transform Sliders and What They Do

Under the Transform section you’ll see six different options for correcting perspective. Give all of them a try to see what they do. Distortion will push and pull the image in and out. Vertical and Horizontal sliders change the vertical and horizontal perspective. Use the Rotate slider to straighten out the image. Scale helps out with the cropped areas, which we’ll discuss next, while the Aspect slider squeezes an image vertically or horizontally.

3. Adjust the Vertical, Horizontal, Rotate and Scale Sliders

To make the same perspective corrections I did, input the following values for the next four sliders:
Vertical: +3 | Horizontal: -1 | Rotate: -0.5 | Scale: 85
The next two steps include cropping the image in Camera Raw and bringing it into Photoshop for final touches, a step that’s optional.

Camera Raw Perspective Corrections

4. Crop the Image With the 2 to 3 Ratio

Now it’s time to crop the image. Hit the C key on your keyboard to access the Crop tool in Camera Raw 8, or simply click on the Crop icon as demonstrated in the image below. Click and hold the Crop tool icon until the drop-down menu appears. From the menu select the 2 to 3 image aspect ratio. Once you do that, hit Enter to apply the crop and open the image in Photoshop.


4. Final Touches in Photoshop

Now, with the image in Photoshop, make any changes you think are necessary. For example, I added the white sky and removed the antenna from the roof. I also filled in some foliage that was missing at the bottom. To see the before and after, compare the image below to the original at the beginning of this post. What do you think?

Camera Raw Perspective Corrections

Getting it Straight in Adobe Lightroom 5

The process of applying a perspective correction in Camera Raw 8 and Lightroom 5 is almost identical. To achieve the same perspective in Lightroom 5, open the image and go to the Develop module. From the Lens Corrections tab select the Basic. Select the check-box to Enable Profile Corrections. Next, select the Full tab. This will straighten the image, just like in Camera Raw 8.

Perspective Corrections in Lightroom 5

Now we need to finish it manually. Select the Manual tab and input the values from Step #3 that we did in Camera Raw. They are: Vertical: +3 | Horizontal: -1 | Rotate: -0.5 | Scale: 85.
Now you’re ready to crop the image and bring it into Photoshop if you think it’s necessary.

Lightroom 5 Upright Correction

What the Newbie Photographers Don’t Know

Mention perspective control to a newbie and most likely they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about. With so many point and shoot cameras on the market, and with the surge of amateur photographers, distorted photos seem to have become a norm. Many shooters have accepted distortion in their images, perhaps because they don’t realize it’s there, while others don’t know how to fix it. But the solution isn’t very hard, and it starts with awareness.

How effective do you think this process is? Did you find it easy or hard? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments area below. See you next week. Cheers.

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