I had a great time watching the Balloon Inflation for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade along with thousands of other New Yorkers. The Canon 7D makes it easy to deal with crowds. I just used the Live Preview while holding the camera over my head and composed the shot with the LCD screen. Normally, this technique produces great shots. However, when you are using an ultra-wide lens like the Canon 10-22mm EF-S, this will also create some weird distortions. In the Before shot above, you can see the lamppost and part of the tree leaning in and a slight bowing of the building in the background. If you think Photoshop like I do, it’s just a matter of dragging some Guides and using the Distort Tool in Free Transform to fix it. But, if you are now a Lightroom Purist, you might be temped to look for a better shot. Well, the good news is that you can fix a photo even this distorted using just Lightroom 3. Take a look.
1. Enable Profile Corrections within the Lens Corrections tab.
Adobe has lens profiles available for most Canon and Sigma lenses. If you are lucky, just enabling the Profile Corrections within the Lens Corrections tab could be enough to correct the distortion. However, since I was not hold the camera straight as well as tilting the camera down, the distortion is beyond the existing Profile. Manual adjustments are necessary.
2. Manual adjustments starting with the Rotate slider.
Clicking the Manual button within the Lens Corrections tab will reveal several additional controls. It helps if you studied X-Y-Z geometry because this photo needs to be manipulated in 3D space. But, don’t worry! You just need to follow my steps starting with the Rotate slider.
As soon as you hover over the slider, you will see the grid pop up. The first step is to make sure the center of the photo is properly aligned (either vertically or horizontally). In this case, the buildings behind the Energizer Bunny are slightly off. I used the Rotate slider to fix the vertical alignment at the center of the photo. Don’t worry about the rest of the photo just yet.
3. Look for Distortion at the center of the photo.
I am still focusing on the center of the photo. Just rotating the photo is not enough since there is also bowing of the buildings. With the Grid as my guide, I used the Distortion slider to make the buildings completely straight. With the photo correctly Rotated and Distortion free at the center, the rest of the photo falls into place with the next steps.
4. Fixing the Vertical alignment.
Since the vertical lines are so strong in the photo, they make the next step easy. I used the Vertical slider to straighten the lamppost and the rest of the buildings.
5. Fixing the Horizontal Alignment.
Almost there! I finished the Lens Correction by tweaking the Horizontal slider just a bit. (If your photo has stronger horizontal lines, than you would focus on the Horizontal slider first and finish with the Vertical slider.)
6. Cropping the revised photo.
The last step is to enable Constrain Crop. Lightroom will automatically crop the photo to eliminate the gray areas created by distorting the photo. (You may want to use Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop to fill in the gray areas instead.)
7. Final Results without Photoshop!
The final photo looks great! Remember, this is Lightroom, so none of these adjustments actually alter the underlying Raw file. If you are not happy with the results, you can always click the Reset and try it again. Getting the center of the photo correct is very important and everything else falls into place. But, don’t worry … you can always fix the photo the old way in Photoshop. 😉