Lightroom Tutorial: How to Correct Perspective
In a great photo, everything is important: the subject, the composition, the colours, the light, the perspective. Speaking of the latter, if the horizon or vertical lines in the photo are slightly off, this will affect the overall impact of the image. Luckily, Lightroom has some great tools for easy removal of distortions caused by the lens and correction of perspective distortion in the photo. In this tutorial we will show how to easily correct any distortions in your photos and make them shine.
For this tutorial, I will use an image taken in the Fall in one of the courtyards of the Marais area in Paris: brightly coloured leaves frame the windows of a traditional Parisian building. To get all the lines straight, the best spot for taking this photo would have been from a window of an opposite building. Since I do not always have access to such privileged spots, I took it while standing in the courtyard and looking upwards. As a result, some perspective distortion appears in the image. You will notice that it is also a little crooked and definitely needs some correction.
1. Check with a grid
After importing the image to Lightroom, open it in Develop module and evaluate the corrections to be made with the help of a grid. To display the grid, press Command + Option + O (Mac) or Control + Alt + O (PC) on your keyboard (you may need to turn this option on in the menu by clicking on View -> Loupe Overlay and making sure that "Grid" is checked). You can also hold down the Command key to change the size and opacity of the grid.
2. Profile correction
Th next step is to correct the slight distortion and vignetting caused by the lens. This is particularly important for images of architecture and interiors with many straight lines as they may appear slightly curved, especially at the edges of the image. In the Lens Corrections tab on the left, tick Enable Profile Corrections box. Lightroom provides multiple default profile corrections for a variety of commonly used lenses: the software will determine the type of lens used and make the corrections automatically. If you are using some fancy lens not on the list, you may also make some adjustments manually in the Profile tab.
See how Profile Correction works in the image below (the changes are very slight, yet visible):
3. Try automatic perspective correction modes
One of the greatest thing about Lightroom is the possibility to quickly correct the perspective with just one click! The smart software evaluates the lines in the image and automatically uprights any building based on the perspective from which it was taken. For the best results, check all of the available options in the Lens Corrections tab and choose the one that looks the most natural.
Level option straightens horizontal lines only, but does not have any impact on vertical ones.
Auto option automatically applies a combination of the correction options and usually works well for the majority of images.
Vertical option makes all the vertical lines upright.
Full perspective correction option applies all of the above and is usually more drastic than Auto option.
In this particular case it looks like the Full option works best by correcting both vertical and horizontal lines (displaying the grid again helps seeing the result). If there are people in the photo, you may however refer to a softer Auto option, or even manual correction, as an automatic correction often makes them look unnatural.
4. Constrain crop
To get rid of white background after the correction is done, tick the Constrain Crop box in Lens Corrections tab. Lightroom will automatically crop the image based on the available area. If you are not happy with the composition of the image after cropping, go to Crop & Straighten tool to choose your own version of the crop.
If the standard aspect ratio of the image does not work, you may also click on a small lock sign in the same tab and adjust the aspect ratio to your liking.
In the final version of the image, both vertical and horizontal lines are straight and the building is upright. Of course, the amount of perspective corrections highly depends on the image and will vary greatly from case to case.
Let us know how this works for you and share your results with us!
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About the Author
Nadia is passionate about the visual aspect of life and the personalities she meets along the way. Living in the heart of Paris, Nadia never stops exploring the City of Light through her camera and readily shares her knowledge and love for photography.