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Correcting perspective

From: Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

Video: Correcting perspective

So I'm in the Financial District here in San Francisco, standing in front of this really nice building with this colonnade in front of it, and I want to get a shot of it. As I look at it here with my naked eye, I see a little bit of perspective distortion, but not a lot. However, to get the shot framed, I'm having to use a pretty wide-angle lens. I'm using a 24-millimeter wide angle, and I cannot get any further back from it to use a longer focal length, so I'm pretty much stuck here with this framing. And when I shoot with this framing, here's what I get: I get a pretty wildly distorted building.

Correcting perspective

So I'm in the Financial District here in San Francisco, standing in front of this really nice building with this colonnade in front of it, and I want to get a shot of it. As I look at it here with my naked eye, I see a little bit of perspective distortion, but not a lot. However, to get the shot framed, I'm having to use a pretty wide-angle lens. I'm using a 24-millimeter wide angle, and I cannot get any further back from it to use a longer focal length, so I'm pretty much stuck here with this framing. And when I shoot with this framing, here's what I get: I get a pretty wildly distorted building.

I'm getting--I mean, okay maybe not wildly distorted, but I get a lot of distortion. I get a lot of perspective shift going up the columns. That's not really what it looks like to my eye. I would really like to square it off more. So this is where I'm going to go to work with my tilt-shift lens. This is a 24-millimeter Canon tilt-shift. So what I'm going to do is shift the lens upward, which is going to correct this perspective distortion, but as I do that, it's also going to change the composition of my shot because as I shift upward, I'm going to crop the bottom of the building. So as I'm shifting upward, I'm also going to need to tilt my camera down.

Now, we're rolling video on the camera, so you're going to be able to see this whole process. The first thing going on here is that I need to adjust how the shift on my lens is working. The last shot that I took with it was a portrait orientation, so right now that shift is set to go from side to side. That's not what I need. So I'm going to flip a release here on the side of the lens and that lets me rotate the entire mechanism around until--there we go-- now my shift is back to going vertical.

Lots of locks on this lens to keep things from accidentally shifting or tilting. So I've got to loosen those. Once I do, I have two options for controlling the shift. I can use this little knob here or I can actually just grab the lens and push it up and down. The knob is nice for really fine control. So what I'm going to do--and you can see this changing here--I'm shifting the lens up and as I do, it's a little hard to tell because of the way the crop is changing, but the building is squaring up. So now I need to do that second motion I was talking about and tilt the lens down.

Sorry, that wasn't smoother, but this is a ballhead on my tripod so that is making--it makes it difficult to just do a straight tilt. So now look at the difference. The columns are very, very straight. And in fact, they may have been corrected too much. They might now be tilting forward, so I'm going to back off on this a little bit. Now then, you are seeing that the bottom of the building is cropped off. That's because as we're shooting video, I'm stuck with a 16:9 aspect ratio, so the way that I'm actually framed for stills is going to still show the top and bottom of the frame.

So that looks much better. I'm going to take my shot. I'm going to wait for some traffic to go by so I get a clear shot. There's one right now. I take my shot. Oh, okay, this is all wrong. My exposure is way off. And the exposure is off because the camera cannot actually, or accurately, meter through the lens when it's shifted. So I've got to back up and start this process over now. I'm going to put my lens back to normal, and I'm going to frame my shot the way that I want it, and I'm going to meter.

I'm in Aperture Priority mode. I want pretty deep depth of field, so I'm metering at f/10. So that meter is in at a shutter speed of a 30th of a second. So I'm going to go over here to Manual mode and just dial those settings in. Now my exposure is locked correctly. Now, I can do my shift again. I'm going to shift this down. No, that's wrong. I'm going to shift this up. Going down is going to shift it the wrong direction and make the perspective worse. And then I'm going to tilt this down, and that's looking much better.

Now, I can take my shot and I get accurate exposure. So this is the process that I'm going through all the time with my tilt-shift lens. Again, it's manual focus so I'm manually focusing ahead of time, then setting my exposure, locking my exposure in, and then I can do my adjustments to the lens to correct my perspective. I don't use tilt for this. All I need to get this working is shifting up and down. And I can go in either direction. I can either pull the perspective in or push it back out again.

That's how you square up a building when you need to get that wide-angle shot.

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This video is part of

Image for Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

50 video lessons · 17154 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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