Keeping It In Perspective

Keeping it in Perspective.

This church at Hillsborough is popular with photographers. And why not? Look at the image!

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There’s a pretty scene in there, with lots of the elements of design. There’s colour and shape, there’s lines drawing the eyes into the church, the central focus of the image. But there’s one problem. In many photographs of the church the trees are seemingly angled inwards, a distortion of perspective. It’s a natural lens effect, because the lens is low (usually at eye level) and the trees are high…

In this shot though, I deliberately lowered the camera more, – I sat on the grass, to deliberately exaggerate the problem! So how are the trees standing straight and tall?

There’s two ways of doing this…
1. Buy a perspective shift lens! Great idea, if you’ve a thousand pounds or so laying spare… There’s another way.
2. Fix it in post capture processing. Take your shot, and import it into Lightroom, and use of of the programme’s amazing tools, the ‘TRANSFORM’ panel to adjust the perspective in the photo. Here’s how to do it.

To demonstrate I’ve gone to another church, Mountpottinger Presbyterian Church, and photographed it with the Fujifilm X-T2 and a wide angle lens. 1/124th sec at f/8 on ISO200. Focal length was 10mm on the X-T10’s sensor – the equivalent of around 18mm on a full frame 35mm film camera.
Here’s the raw image as made on the camera…

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Not great, is it?  But we can fix it in post capture processing.  I’m going to open the image in Lightroom.

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I’ll do the basic adjustments first, – any exposure corrections, for example, finding the white point and the black point, adjusting the clarity and sharpness.

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Now I open an adjustment panel called ‘TRANSFORM” on the right hand side of the screen.  It expands like this…

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Just click AUTO to see what result it gives.  It may be that the Lightroom magic will do its work and fix the perspective!

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You can see that the auto command has straightened up the vertical lines on the church, but it has also removed the pixels on the bottom corners.  That’s why when you are shooting a building like this you need to leave plenty of room for cropping!

But what if you dont like what the auto command has done?  No problem.  Click ‘off’ and now select ‘Guided’ in the transform panel.  Draw a ine along two of the vertical lines you want to correct and the programme will correct the image so that your two drawn lines are perfectly vertical.

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Decide which you prefer – auto or guided, and then crop the image to exclude the white pixels at the bottom corners.  You should now have an image with perfect perspective, and much cheaper than buying a perspective shift lens!

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Here’s my final image, cropped and rendered as monochrome, with the contrast adjusted slightly.

HOLD ON THERE…

‘That’s NOT fair!  You’re using Lightroom, and I only use Photoshop!’ –

Don’t panic!  You can do it in Photoshop too. Import your image to PS, and duplicate the layer. (Cmmd-J or CTR-J).  With the top layer seleted and and the bottom layer invisible, select transform (Cmmd-t or ctr-t) .  Right click on the layer, and ‘select PERSPECTIVE.

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Drag the layer handles until you’ve fixed the perspective.

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Adjust your black and white points, crop the image

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and you’re ready to go!

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