Correcting for Vertical Perspective Distortion

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I’m an all or nothing kind of guy when it comes to perspective distortion. Well, when it comes to a lot of things, but we won’t get into all that.

Here’s a shot I made on the same morning that I shot the James Buchanan Duke statue at Duke University. See, there’s Venus in the sky, just as it is above the statue. To get everything in the way I wanted, I had to tilt the 17-35mm lens upward, which caused horrible vertical perspective distortion. But no problem; I knew I could easily fix this in Photoshop.

Perspective distortion in photo

Before vertical perspective distortion removed.

Correcting for perspective distortion is a two-part process. First, you have to know you’re going to be doing it when you make the capture. That way, you can be sure to include enough real estate in the photo for the correction filter to work. See, when you make the correction in Photoshop, the filter chops off some of the top and sides, so if you don’t frame loosely, you’ll lose important parts of the photo.

The second step, in Photoshop, is a piece of cake. In CS6 (and recent prior versions, I believe) go to Filter>Lens Correction and check Auto Scale Image. This will automatically cause the filter to crop the blank space off the edges after making the correction. (Try it first without having this checked and you’ll see what I mean.) Now, click Custom and then move the Vertical Perspective slider under Transform until the photo looks right. Magic!

Duke Chapel

After correcting for vertical perspective distorion.

This is a 5-shot HDR. I know, I always talk about how when you shoot at twilight you can get both the sky and city lights properly exposed in a single frame, but it’s a little different when you’re up close and personal like this. In a wide-angle shot, some of the lights can be blown out and it doesn’t matter, but up close, it won’t work. The sconces here were very bright and blending multiple exposures was the only way to make it work.

You know, I had planned on doing some night shooting on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, but considering the current state of their basketball team, I might wait a while. I mean, they’re already upset enough as it is. I’d hate for them to see a Duke/NC State fan lurking around campus in the middle of the night, especially after Saturday’s game.

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