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Removing lens distortions

From: Digital Painting: Street Scene

Video: Removing lens distortions

When the shutter release is pressed, a camera records exactly what it is pointed at. How the geometry of the captured image is portrayed is dictated by the optics of the particular lens in use. For example, a wide-angle lens tends to distort perspective. The result is buildings and phone poles that lean inward towards the center of the image. An artist, on the other hand, painting the same scene, will tend to render the same buildings with vertical elements perpendicular to the ground.

Removing lens distortions

When the shutter release is pressed, a camera records exactly what it is pointed at. How the geometry of the captured image is portrayed is dictated by the optics of the particular lens in use. For example, a wide-angle lens tends to distort perspective. The result is buildings and phone poles that lean inward towards the center of the image. An artist, on the other hand, painting the same scene, will tend to render the same buildings with vertical elements perpendicular to the ground.

This is simply our brain and visual system at work to see things from a common-sense point of view. Let's go ahead and take a look at what I'm talking about. Now here's a shot where a wide-angle lens was used to take this photograph. As we look at this, it looks funny, because all the verticals are converging on an imaginary vanishing point, which is somewhere way above the building, and this is how the lens is constructed. This is what it sees. So the lens has no mind about what it sees.

It just merely records the way the light passes through it and bends it in whatever fashion the lens was designed to do. Our eye, however, can look at this and in the context of the photograph, we may not notice this so much, but the more I talk about it, hopefully you're looking at this image and thinking, this looks kind of funny, the building just looks odd to me. And if we think about all these lines that make up this vertical perspective that is converging, it makes sense that a lens may be designed to do that. However, through a variety of techniques in Photoshop, which we will be looking at in the next few videos, we can take that grid and actually straighten it out.

So what we end up with is an image that looks much more natural to the eye, and this is what I call sometimes the painter or the illustrator's point of view. When someone is standing in front of that building and painting or rendering it, drawing it, illustrating it, however, they are not going to typically draw it with those converging lines like we saw. They are going to draw more like we see here. So one of the things that is the telltale sign of a photograph are these kinds of distortions that wind up in the image due to the optics of the lens.

The illustrator, on the other hand, is not going to think that way. So when you're prepping an image for interpretation, you want to think like a painter, not a camera. Removing lens distortions from the source photograph goes a long ways towards achieving this goal.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Street Scene
Digital Painting: Street Scene

45 video lessons · 14952 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 8m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files
      39s
    3. Installing custom brushes
      7m 0s
  2. 22m 3s
    1. Understanding the visual vocabulary
      4m 46s
    2. Using the vocabulary of photography
      6m 41s
    3. Using the vocabulary of painting
      7m 1s
    4. Looking at reality through a mental painting filter
      3m 35s
  3. 10m 22s
    1. Understanding that resolution is in the brush strokes
      3m 6s
    2. Understanding the subject
      7m 16s
  4. 16m 1s
    1. Removing lens distortions
      2m 33s
    2. Using the Free Transform tool
      4m 42s
    3. Using the Lens Correction filter
      4m 36s
    4. Understanding the ACR lens correction profiles
      4m 10s
  5. 12m 23s
    1. Working with Vibrance
      3m 14s
    2. Using the Match Color command
      2m 59s
    3. Understanding the traditional paint color swatch set
      6m 10s
  6. 16m 6s
    1. The eye has a bettor sensor than a camera
      3m 16s
    2. Using the Shadow/Highlight filter
      3m 17s
    3. Using the HDR Toning filter
      5m 23s
    4. Understanding how RAW files provide malleability
      4m 10s
  7. 14m 42s
    1. Working with the Reduce Noise filter
      2m 50s
    2. Working with the Surface Blur filter
      3m 6s
    3. Using Smart Blur for simplification
      2m 51s
    4. Working with the Topaz Simplify plug-in
      5m 55s
  8. 31m 10s
    1. NDLP: A creative safety net
      5m 1s
    2. Using custom actions
      9m 41s
    3. Using the reference layer
      5m 29s
    4. Cloning layers
      6m 5s
    5. Working with the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer
      4m 54s
  9. 17m 28s
    1. Brush categorization
      10m 1s
    2. Working with canvas texture
      3m 41s
    3. Using Sample All Layers
      3m 46s
  10. 12m 48s
    1. Being willing to destroy detail
      7m 21s
    2. Establishing the painting style
      5m 27s
  11. 25m 1s
    1. Simplified indication
      9m 3s
    2. Understanding color
      4m 10s
    3. Introducing texture
      11m 48s
  12. 17m 36s
    1. Providing rest areas for the eye
      6m 55s
    2. Focusing on the subject through detail
      10m 41s
  13. 24m 20s
    1. Being willing to depart from the original
      6m 48s
    2. Creating detail to enhance the artwork
      8m 36s
    3. Creating physical surface texture effects
      8m 56s
  14. 10m 33s
    1. Waiting a day
      4m 14s
    2. Examining your importance hierarchy
      6m 19s
  15. 57s
    1. Goodbye
      57s

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