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Perspective is a powerful compositional tool. You can create strong receding lines and an intense sense of depth in your image when you take advantage of perspective. There are times though, especially with architecture, when you don't want perspective, when you want vertical lines to be straight rather than receding into the distance. If you're shooting with a wide-angle lens, this can be especially problematic. Fortunately, Photoshop has a great tool for correcting and altering the perspective in an image. Here is a building with a perspective problem.
Actually the building was fine; the problem is that I stood too close to it and shot with a very short focal length, that is, a wide-angle lens. So what I've got now are these lines all receding upwards to a point, a vanishing point way above the top of my screen, and I would prefer the building to look square. That's how it looked in real life. There are a number of ways that I could have dealt with this. If I owned a tilt-shift lens, I could have tried shooting with that, but they are expensive and heavy, and I don't do that much architectural photography. A simpler solution would have been to move further back and zoom in.
Well, there are times when you may not be able to do that. If there is a lot of traffic out on the street or if it would have changed the relationship between the building and the tree behind it, because the depth in the scene would have been compressed, then maybe this was the only way to get that relationship that you wanted. Either way, it doesn't matter. I can fix it now by going to the Filter menu and choosing Lens Correction. Lens Correction is a very powerful Photoshop feature that gives me a lot of handy correction tools. When you come into the Lens Correction filter you will be in the Auto Correction pane.
I would recommend turning off all of this stuff. These features work by reading profile information for your lens, profile information that's built into Photoshop, and trying to automatically correct some problems. Instead, come over here to the Custom tab, and here we get a lot of different things. I can correct barrel and pincushion distortion, if my lens has that trouble. I can correct chromatic aberration, which are purple or red fringes that you might see on high-contrast lines. As we'll see later, I can manipulate vignettes. What I want to do is Transform. These two sliders effectively map the image onto a three-dimensional plane and then allow me to rotate that plane.
And if I take here the Vertical Perspective slider and slide it to the left, you can see that I am able to rotate the image up until the perspective is correct. Now what I am watching here are these lines on the edge of the building. I want them to be vertical. If I am having trouble eyeballing that, I can turn on this grid here, which will serve as a nice reference. And that's pretty close. I think that may be about all that I am going to do to this. I might be able to get a little bit of leeway on my vertical perspective correction by altering the horizontal perspective correction.
But in general, just eyeballing it and simply getting it to look closer to true is going to be good enough. No one is probably going to sit around and actually start measuring things in your image. I think actually that might be a little aggressive. I am going to back off on that a little bit. We are of course used to seeing buildings recede a little bit. Now, I am going to hit OK, and it's going to process. Again, as we saw in the cropping tutorial, I have been asking you to shoot in black and white, and yet here I have a color image. That's because perspective correction requires a crop when you're done.
You can see that after tilting the image, I have got this extra space in my scene. So, I am going to take my Crop tool. Right now, it's set to crop to a square. I want to clear that out by pressing the Clear button right here. And I am just going to crop out this extra space. So again, this is why I am working on a color image, because correcting the perspective is going to involve a crop and I always want to do cropping before any other edits, because if this perspective correction and crop doesn't work out, then I am not going to bother doing any black-and-white conversion or any other adjustments.
So take the crop and there we go. Let's take a look at a before and after. I am going to use Photoshop's History palette to go back to the image's original state and after adjustment and cropping. So the building is squared up and I have--I haven't recomposed the image, but I have changed the composition of this scene, and what I mean by that--or the reason I feel that--is because before these lines, these diagonal lines, were guiding my eye in a particular direction. They were affecting the way that I was reading the image.
By cropping it to a square, my eye stays more in the frame, right here in the center. So this can be a handy tool for any time you need to alter perspective to keep the viewer's eye under control.
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