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Perspective Correction

House with perspective

Perspective Correction

We all have seen it: we took a picture of a building and we end up with a distortion of the image resp. the building. We experience that something that should be perpendicular becomes a weird angle. Building often look as if they were leaning backwards.

That happens when you have to tilt the camera slightly to capture the image, e.g. when you photograph an object like a building that is taller than you. Also when you take that photo just from an angle standing left or right to the object.
It’s called a keystone effect. Using wide-angle lenses makes it look even more distorted.

In Real Estate photography you mostly don’t like the effect and you can avoid it by trying not to tilt the camera and keeping vertical lines vertical. However, sometimes that is again not feasible. Then you make the adjustment in post-production with Photoshop.

In architectural photography same thing: it’s likely you do not want a keystone effect, but, on the other hand, sometimes you want that effect because it is part of your image composition, like pointing the camera upwards to take a photo of skyscrapers: They will appear as if they were coming from the sides into your photo and lines are running towards the vanishing point.

Often it comes down to personal preference

I believe you just look at a picture and you can quickly decide if a perspective correction is necessary and to what degree.
I don’t think it has to be 100% all the time, it depends so much on the particular scene and the only important thing to me is that they eye of the viewer is pleased.

Photoshop can help

There are a some techniques to make things perpendicular if you want or need to.

  • Lens Correction: automated or manual or both. And if you have a quality lens you will get better results from Photoshop
  • Perspective Warp: powerful perspective correction even in complex scenarios where Lens Correction doesn’t help anymore

Example of Perspective Correction

Before correction

Perspective Church and tall Building before with keystone effect
Perspective Church and tall Building before with keystone effect

After correction

Perspective Church and tall Building after correction
Perspective Church and tall Building after correction

Effect adds more drama

A TV tower with a bungee jumper

TV tower with bungee jumper
TV tower with bungee jumper

Do we need perspective correction in this photo?

House with perspective
House with perspective

The answer is NO

This is not a distortion, it is an actual building.

Resources & Reference of mentioned and/or used software for this article

Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop CC: Trial versions of Creative Cloud Apps



Comments (1)

[…] For exteriors you have to decide case by case, it depends on the purpose of the photo. Camera tilt-ups are mostly unavoidable unless you are very far away. The closer you are to the object the more you can embrace the keystone effect, but the farther you move away the more you need to decide if you want or need to eliminate the distortion. See also my article Perspective correction. […]

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