Keep things in perspective
Controlling perspective has its challenges. Martin Evening reveals how to combat distortions in Adobe Photoshop
Martin evening tells us how to combat distortions in adobe Photoshop
When photographing architectural subjects it can be difficult to control the perspective unless you are using a tilt-and-shift lens and have the camera perfectly aligned vertically. Furthermore, whenever you edit architectural images in Photoshop, it is important to ensure that the perspective still looks correct and any elements you choose to combine with the original also correctly match the perspective. With this in mind, it can certainly help to enable Lens Profile corrections in Lightroom or Camera Raw. This is because a lens profile can correct any geometric distortion and ensure the straight edges appear straight. You can also make use of Upright adjustments in the Transform panel to auto-correct the perspective at the raw editing stage. However, there are some extra tools available in Photoshop that you can also use to manage the perspective.
The key to successful retouching is to make use of the perspective clues that are available in the picture to help determine the positioning of additional elements. For example, the main image here shows a view of Midtown New York shot from a hotel balcony. In this scene one can easily define the three main axis planes by tracking the lines of the streets and buildings. There are lots of clues here that can be referenced. Now, let’s say I wanted to replace the poster highlighted here with something more appealing, such as our favourite magazine. The simplest way to do this would be to use the Free Transform command. With the Free Transform active you can drag the corner handles to accurately align the corners, or hold down the Shift key as you drag a corner handle to scale the Transform. As I explain in the following steps, it may also help to first convert the layer to a Smart Object so that the original pixel image data is always preserved no
matter how many times you need to fine-tune the position and scaling. With other types of subjects it can be harder to match the perspective if there are no obvious clues in the image to work with, such as a landscape scene that’s devoid of straight lines. If you are shooting to intentionally combine elements together there are steps you can take which can help you achieve more realistic-looking results. For example, if you are able to place a 3D reference shape, such as a cube frame, in the scene that you are about to shoot, this can provide a useful guide to the perspective – plus it can also indicate the direction of the light. Professional photographers often do this when preparing a scene that is to be photographed for use in a CGI composite. Having done that you can use the Vanishing Point filter to calculate the planes in the captured scene and retouch the photograph and match the perspective. Or, you can use the Free Transform or Perspective Warp tools described in this article to get added layered elements to match the original scene’s perspective.
Another thing you can do is to ensure that the photos you wish to combine are shot from the same height and angle. I have done this on a number of shoots where the objective was to create a composite image. Basically I would carefully note down the tripod measurements and subject distances as I shot location and studio photographs. Merging the different elements together is a lot easier then.
Martin Evening Martin has a commercial background in beauty photography, and an in-depth knowledge of Photoshop and Lightroom. His books include Photoshop CC 2018 for Photographers and The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic CC Book. In 2008, he was inducted into the NAPP Photoshop Hall of Fame. Visit: www. photoshopforphotographers.com.