How to correct distortions

How to correct distortions

The question “How to correct distortions” arises pretty quickly in digital photography, especially when taking photos of architecture and interiors.

Here the latest ADOBE Photoshop CC comes with an excellent new filter: Camera Raw, as already mentioned in my article on the Ycademy Seminar July 2013.

How to correct distortions with Camera Raw

How to correct distortions

Before looking into how to correct distortions in the new Photoshop CC, let’s contemplate what we’re actually dealing with.

Who has not tried to take a picture of a monument without the possibility of standing straight in front of it and, ideally, at middle height, so the lens includes the top and the bottom at about equal lengths?¬†The problem becomes even bigger in those old little towns with narrow streets that offer such beautiful scenery – and often we do the odd snapshot and we remember it all – but at the PC, when we look at it: oh no! We had to probably tilt the camera upward or downward and the vertical lines fell apart. And not only those…

As to interiors, they are a challenge in itself – just experiment with different lenses in small rooms and you know what I mean.

It is very irritating, however, to be presented with a building with distorted lines. Something is out of balance; it influences the way the viewer is guided and the quality of the picture is lost. Lines have to be naturally straight – unless we want to make a totally different statement, in which case we should exaggerate to show our intention.

Here however, we want to look into what possibilities we have to ‘rescue’ pictures taken without the professional garb but a normal camera – by using the tools and filters Photoshop CC offers.

Filter Lens Correction

What we had before already and it’s still there, is the Filter Lens Correction, where we could possibly find our camera make, camera model and lens model. Tick Preview and Show Grid bottom left. See zoom and other tools top left.

We want to look at Custom Correction (not auto correction). Under Transform, play with the vertical and horizontal sliders and the scale, and see what it does to your picture. Check the results also by unticking auto-scale (under Auto Correction).

Seeing what often ‘disappears’ from the picture itself once it is cropped after these corrections, teaches us to always leave sufficient space around the picture when we are out there in the field and take it – for exactly this reason.

It’s the big game of perspective!

Camera Raw

Photoshop CC has come up with an amazing additional filter under Camera Raw.

Messy picture with rainbow

This is how I corrected my snapshot here, which was really messy as it was done on the fly, pulling a door open for a second with rain and icy cold coming in, and the rainbow being visible literally for seconds only! I caught that magic moment, so I wanted this messy picture to look… acceptable!

Don’t we all know these situations?

So here I had some serious line issues – horizontal as well as vertical – and to get the above result I did a few simple steps that gave amazing results:

First, I converted my JPG into a Smart Object. Then I chose the Camera Raw filter, where I went to Manual tab (we don’t focus on colours and chromatic aberations this time). Here I selected the Lens Correction Icon from the list of icons top right under the histogram. What we find are various ways of transforming Distortions vertically and horizontally, Rotations, Scale and Aspect, besides Lens Vignetting.

Note the little tick to show the grid, which I find very helpful.

Play around with all this and experiment, observing the results.

Then however, do just one tick on A for automatic at the top… that’s exactly what I did… and WOW! The result was just awesome – talking normal photos here. Of course, one can spend hours for perfection… but for a fast good result this tool is just amazing! Try the others as well and you will find that Adobe has come up with a smashing tool!

Use the aspect tool for windows, for example; it’s very helpful, too.

I played a bit with vignetting, the interesting point being here that one can rotate along a midpoint.

Brief: a fantastic tool to correct distortions – try it! Good luck!