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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.
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