How to Correct Perspective in Lightroom
Often you will find yourself with a photo you took that looks like the objects in it are tilting over. It is a common lens distortion issue photographers have to deal with on regularly basis, especially in areas of architectural or interior photography. One solution is to buy a tilt-shift lens that usual cost well over $1000 or you could fix it in post production in a matter of minutes. This tutorial will teach you how to correct perspective in Lightroom.
To begin, open Lightroom and open the image that you need to have corrected. It is best to choose an image that has enough margin area around the object, because the image will crop during the correction process – keep that in mind when photographing an object or space that will need perspective correction. Also, the taller the object or the closer you are to it, the more of a tilt you will need to apply to the image, meaning that more headroom will be needed. Notice that in an example image used in this tutorial there is plenty of headroom left to correct the image above the building and under the building.
Once you open your image in Lightroom, navigate to Develop panel. Scroll down to the Lens Correction section, you can jump to it by using the shortcut Cmd + 6 (Ctrl + 6 for Windows). Lens Correction section is divided into 5 parts: basic, profile, color and manual. The color section is irrelevant to perspective correction. The profile section plays a small part and will correct the lens vignetting and distortion for the specific lens and camera combination you are using; however, it will not correct the perspective.
The basic section will attempt to do the correction for you and it does the job fairly well; however, does not correct it completely. Try it to see if it works for your image.
To correct it yourself, go the Manual section of the Lens Correction tool where you will find the sliders allowing you full perspective control. The first slider adjusts lens distortion, if earlier you selected a lens profile to apply to the image and it corrected lens distortion perfectly, this slider can be left alone. If you notice that the image is still either bending inwards or outwards, use the Distortion slider to fix it.
Further, use the Vertical slider to correct the vertical tilt of the image. This will likely have the biggest effect in correcting your image. Use this slider with the help of the grid to ensure the lines are as vertical as possible. Most probably it will be nearly impossible to correct all lines perfectly if you did not shoot your object centered and camera was not level at the time.
The Horizontal slider will change the horizontal tilt of the image. In a practical sense, this can come useful if you need to bring either side of the building forward to center it in the image.
The Rotation slider should be applied to level the image. After you correct the vertical and horizontal lines of the image, the image level will shift. With the Scale slider, you can scale the size of your image if needed, and the Aspect slider will stretch the image to fill the desired ratio. Most likely you will have to go back to all sliders a few times to find the right balance between them for the image to be corrected successfully.
Once you are happy with the results you will need to crop the image, so that the background canvas is not visible. To do this, click the crop tool and to make sure you crop within the image area select the Constrain to Image option. Once you are happy with the crop you have finished correcting perspective.
Did you find this tutorial useful? To expand your Lightroom skills further, have a look at our in-depth tutorial on lens correction.