When shooting buildings with a wide angle lens, you may be confronted with lens foreshortening. This is distortion that occurs when you have to shoot from too-close with the lens pointing up: maybe you don’t have room to back up ( a common occurrence). The result is a photo in which the top of the building is distorted, appearing too small, as if it’s falling backwards.
The traditional fix for this problem was to shoot the photograph with a view camera. By keeping the camera level and raising the front lens standard, you were able to shift the photograph vertically, accommodating the height of the object in front of you. Tilt/shift lenses for 35 mm cameras accomplished the same thing on a more limited scale by allowing you to shift the front element. (But pricey! Ouch!)
Fortunately, there’s a really great way to accomplish this right in Photoshop. Here I’ve shot a simple building from down too low, with my 16-35mm lens pointed up at the subject. The result gets the whole building in, but the result is distorted.
Using the Rectangular Marquee Selection tool, draw a box around the distorted object, making sure to leave some room around the edges.
Now go to Edit>Transform>Perspective.
Click and drag from one of the top corners of the image left or right. You’ll see the top of your selected area begin to resize itself. Stop when your vertical lines look vertical. Hit Enter.
The top of your photo may now look likes it’s ‘squished’ down. If so, go immediately (before you lose your ‘crawling ants’ selection) to Edit>Transform>Scale.
Click on the top line of your selected area and pull it straight up. You’ll see your selected area resize again, but this time it’s contents will start to regain their proper perspective. Stop dragging when things look right. Hit Enter.
Now select your Crop Tool. Carefully crop your image from inside your selected, transformed area. Hit Enter.
Ta-dahh! You’ve fixed it, without spending thousands on view camera equipment.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog
Related articles on the web:
Avoiding and Correcting Linear Distortion in Buildings at Phototuts+
9 Architectural Photography Tips at Digital Photography School
Perspective Adjustment in Photoshop at Luminous Landscape