Articles, Blog

Architectural Photography and Fixing Distortion in Lightroom

October 21, 2019

although I’m a landscape photographer I
do like to take pictures of the things including architecture I’m not very good
at it and to be honest a lot of the things I shoot tend to be grab shots as
on passing something this example is case in point I shot it
in San Francisco probably about five or six years ago now and I captured it with
an infrared camera which is why you’re seeing the funny colors on screen at the
moment and this example has been already converted using DxO into a tiff file now
I’m not in DxO at the moment I’m actually in Lightroom and the reason for
this is that I’d started playing about with something called DxO viewpoint
which tries to correct architectural problems like converging verticals it is
a very good piece of software but I thought what does Lightroom actually
offer me because I know there are some things in the transform panel which will
help you actually correct some perspective problems so I thought well
let’s experiment and see what we can do now if you look at this image it’s
typical of a grab shot initially on first appearance it looks okay but if
you look at the verticals they’re converging and another problem what’s
this center part for the building appears to be central it’s not really
because if you count the number of windows we’ve got one two three on this
side and one two three four on that side so although I may have it in the center
of the frame I’ve not got the camera turned directly Square onto the building
and so because of that I’m seeing more of one side than I am of the other now
I’m never going to be able to correct something so severe in just software but
let’s see it just what is possible with this now the first thing I want to say
is that there’s two areas that often get confused in Lightroom which is lens
Corrections and Transform. lens Corrections are just
trying to take out the distortion that your lens creates or things like pin
cushioning and barreling if you go to the manual section you can see using the
distortion what that does now I’m just going to reset that because I’ve already
taken out the lens distortion using DxO and the reason I did this in DxO is that
the lens profiles in there to my mind are actually a lot more powerful than
the ones in Lightroom and they seem to make a much better job of correcting
this with this particular lens Lightroom still leaves a bit of barrel distortion
whereas DxO is eradicated it now what I’m going to do is use this
transform tool which is further down and I’m gonna use this to square up the
building and try and remove the converging verticals I could use the
auto option but it’s being a little bit lazy and you’ll never get quite as good
a result as if you do this manually the tool I’m going to use in here is this
guided version now as soon as I click guided this little tool here becomes
enabled you can click it to pick it up and you can also click it again to put
it down what this allows me to do when it’s enabled is I can pick a section of
the building and click on it so as I’m moving my cursor around you
should be able to see that there’s a square magnified section of the image so
I’ll put my first point there and I’ll drag down to another point in line with
it or which should be in line now the line I’ve just drawn should actually be
vertical because all the windows aligned in this building and now I’m gonna do
the same on the other side so again I’ll just click once to put my mark in and
then I’ll drag down and position it now once I’ve added two of these lines
Lightroom is already taken care of removing the converging verticals next
thing I want to do is actually line up some of these windows so I’m going to
pick first off a window over on this side again I’ll pick him to the corner
and I’m gonna line that up with the corresponding window on this side and
now I’m gonna do the same with another window here and that should go into the
window here which is slightly out of frame what I’ve been able to do there is
actually square up the building quite well but it’s still not quite right
let’s go and drop the tool down and now although we square we can actually make
further adjustments using these options here now one of the things when we
actually added the Corrections was that the image gets distorted and we can
change that again by using this aspect ratio here and that allows us to see
more of the image at the top and also at the bottom once you’ve done that you can
actually move the image around within the frame that really is on the right
side of the image about as far as I can go but on the left side I could go
further one of the things we can do now is we can actually rotate the image a
bit further and know what we’re seeing is that the image rather than having
four windows on this side has now got three although it’s still not quite
perfect I’m also starting to see the edge of the frame coming in here now I
could use this constrain crop option but I’m not going to instead I’m going to
maneuver the image around a little bit further and gain I’m gonna reach for my
guides here and you can already see how these have started to be moved out of
shape what I’m going to do is now pick new points on here and move them around
again and as I do that the building starts to square up again and again I can change the aspect ratio
and I can also move the offset and I can move the vertical offset as well and I
can scale further now let’s try and move these around a little bit further so
we’ll leave that one there and we’ll pick this option here and although the
image doesn’t square up perfectly yet it’s actually improving it every time
and now I’m starting to get some of the image more or less lined up it’s not
perfect yet but it’s no looking a lot better than it was I’ll just improve the
scale again and although the image isn’t perfectly
in the middle yet we’re actually starting to see three windows in roughly
a symmetrical shape on the image and we can distort that a little bit further to
improve things and now although we haven’t got a perfectly square image
we’re actually seeing a lot better result so this is rather a bit of an
iterative process here but ultimately you can actually achieve an awful lot
now if I compare this to the viewpoint software that I’ve been using actually
it’s almost as powerful and in some ways it’s possibly even more powerful because
it seems to give a lot more freedom when I come to actually adjust the images and
certainly by moving around on the image you can actually create some rather
weird and wacky distortions but overall you can achieve a good symmetrical image
although as I said at the beginning I’m never going to be able to correct
something that says completely skewed as this building but it created more
symmetry when was there in the initial image and it’s certainly a lot better so
if I just show you the previous image on this will reset it and we undo that now
and you can see the difference as a substantial difference there between
what we had in the beginning and what we had at the end again you can see that so
overall I’m probably not going to upgrade to the viewpoint software from
DxO a rather expensive compared to the tools I’ve already got available in
Lightroom I hope you found that useful I’m Robin Whalley you’ve been watching Lenscraft I’ll see you next time for another


  • Reply usedg February 22, 2019 at 7:10 pm

    Thanks for the information . You mention DXO ….why didn’t you complete the task in Viewpoint please ? Thank you

  • Reply John Wright February 23, 2019 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Robin,
    Another excellent tutorial video. I thought I had mastered the guided edit for transforming distortion in architectural shots but you have included elements, particularly the loupe feature, that I had missed.

  • Reply Howard Pearson March 16, 2019 at 8:05 am

    Another fab video

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