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Fixing Tilted, Slanted, and Skewed Photos With Upright In Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

June 09, 2013 | | Comments 14

Slanted skyline repaired with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Vertical Upright commandAdobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 brings a new set of Upright tools to the Lens Correction windowpane. The Upright repair tools utilize a new technology that attempts to automatically straighten out images that are tilted, slanted, or distorted. These new tools are an amazing time saver when correcting images with weird horizon lines, slanted buildings, or the dreaded keystone effect.

Photoshop Lightroom 5 users will discover four new image repair options–Auto, Level, Vertical, and Full–within this panel. Each of these options actually analyzes the image and attempts to perform a different type of rotation or perspective correction. Upright’s main advantage over previous image repair methods is its ease. Literally all that you need to do is to click the appropriate button and let Photoshop Lightroom 5 go to work straightening out the image!

Working with the new Upright tools is a huge timesaver. For best results use the Upright tools before you apply any cropping or manual transformation adjustments to your image. Enabling the Lens Correction > Profile Correction before using the Upright algorithms also improves the tool’s performance. Although I can explain what each tool does I find that experimenting with each option is often the easiest way to find the best solution.

Straightening A Tilted Horizon Using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5

Images shot with a tilted horizon line usually look odd. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5’s new Upright Level feature tries to automatically correct these tilted horizons using image rotation and cropping. We have been able to make this kind of repair for many years, but the measure-rotate-crop process is slow and tedious.

The new Upright Level command now offers us a great way to fix a slanted horizon with a single mouse click, when it works properly. The Level command will not work on every image, but in my testing it produced fantastic results on almost every image as long as the photo contained a clear horizon line. The Level command only applies horizontal axis rotation so, if your image requires stronger repairs, try the Vertical, Auto, or Full Upright repair options.

When Level works properly, it is amazing. That said, repairing a tilted image in post-processing still requires cropping. If you really want to get your money’s worth out of your images, then it pays to get the camera nice and level when you are photographing so that you do not have to crop anything away when you get home.

Fixing A Slanted Cityscape Photograph With Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5’s Vertical Command

I love shooting pictures of tall buildings and city skylines. If I take the time to level out my camera when I am shooting cityscapes, then I get images with nice, straight buildings. If I am working fast or if I am sloppy, then I often produce images where the horizon is tilted and the buildings look slanted.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5’s new Upright Vertical command tries to automatically correct tilted horizons and straighten up slanted buildings. Correcting for slanted buildings in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom requires both a vertical image transformation and horizontal rotation. After these transformations, the image must be cropped so that it remains rectangular. Although we have been able to manually perform this kind of repair for many years the measure, rotate, vertical swing, and crop process is cumbersome and time-consuming.

With Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5’s new Upright Vertical repair feature, it is now possible to fix a slanted skyline with just a single mouse click! This command will not work properly every time but, when it works properly, the results are stunning. If your image requires stronger geometric repairs, try the new Auto or Full Upright repair options. Again, this new tool is amazing but it pays to get the camera nice and level before you start photographing so that you do not have to crop anything away when you get home.

Fixing Geometric Distortion With Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5’s Auto Upright Command

One of the drawbacks to shooting with a wide angle lens is the illusion of converging vertical lines. This geometric illusion is often referred to as the keystone effect and it presents a real challenge when photographing architectural interiors. Professional architecture photographers fight against the keystone effect by using tilt-shift lenses, but these tools are expensive and not available in all focal lengths.

Correcting an image with keystoned lines requires three dimensional transformations. Until now, we have been able to perform this kind of image repair using Adobe Photoshop and, to a limited degree, in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, but it is not always quick or easy.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 brings a marvelous new tool to the table. Using the Auto, or Full Upright, commands in Lightroom 5’s Lens Correction panel allows the software to analyze your image and automatically apply the appropriate transformations. Both commands–Auto and Full–attempt to fix geometric distortion and straighten slanted lines.

Although both commands attempt to do the same thing the Auto option is gentler. Auto will perform a more conservative repair whereas Full Upright completely remaps the image’s geometry. Neither command is guaranteed to work on every image but, when they work, the results are truly amazing.

Thank you, Adobe, for giving us these amazing new tools. The new Upright algorithms are incredible. Absolutely incredible tools but no substitute for shooting with a level camera and a good tilt-shift lens. Still all of us photographers owe your brilliant engineers a big thank you for making it so much faster and easier to repair slanted landscapes and skewed architectural shots!

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About the Author: David Marx teaches digital photography workshops and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom training classes. David is an Adobe Certified Expert in Photoshop Lightroom and in Adobe Photoshop. David has lead workshops and seminars for the Rocky Mountain School of Photography, the American Society of Media Photographers, FirstLight Photography Workshops, and he teaches annually at the world-famous Blackberry Farm Resort. For more information on his Photoshop Lightroom training seminars and digital photography field workshops please visit davidmarx.com. You can also follow daily updates and see new images from David on Google+.