Using Transform To Correct Perspective

When we look at a building we are almost always stood on the ground. Looking up, the top of the building is further away than the bottom, making the top appear smaller.

The best viewpoint is to be on align with the middle of the building. Making sure the camera is perfectly horizontal. From this ideal position the distance to the top of the building is the same as the distance to the bottom. Making the vertical parts of the building parallel and perfectly vertical.

There is another way to avoid the unwanted perspective, that is to get as far away from the building as possible. But in most cases not very practical.

In this example – Rheinmain Conference Center in Wiesbaden, Germany – I couldn’t get back any further so had no choice but to angle the camera up to capture the whole building in this shot.

Wiesbaden before transform

1 Start by rotating the image

Lightroom can fix both horizontal and vertical perspective. I usually use the rotate setting first though, so that the vertical in the middle is vertical.

Turning on the Loupe Overlay displays a useful grid pattern. Go to View > Loupe Overlay > Show.

Wiesbaden transform showing area that needs to be removed

2 Correcting the verticals using transform

Once the centre is vertical, I go back to the transform palette, putting the cursor in the vertical field it is easier to use the up and down keys until the sides look perfectly vertical. Sometimes the rotate needs to be re-adjusted. Sometimes the horizontal setting needs to be adjusted too. It isn’t an exact science. If you are unsure, create a clone of the image and work on that so that you can go back to the original if necessary.

Wiesbaden transform being scaled up

3 Remove unwanted white areas

Drastic transforming like this often creates vast white areas that are off the canvas. The obvious solution is to crop the white areas out. But this has the downside of making the image smaller. It is better to use the scaling setting in the Transform palette. Here I have increased the size of the image to 108%. I then used the Y-Offset setting to move the image area down – making the most of the sky which would have been cropped out.

Wiesbaden transform being cropped

4 Cropping image

The final job is to crop the image to remove the last of the white canvas areas. Resist the temptation to check Constrain Crop as this setting will lose more pixels.

Wiesbaden completed