EDITING FOR WIDE- ANGLES
The biggest problem with wide- angle lenses is distortion. Thankfully, modern editing software is up To The Task…
There are two types of distortion that occur in photography: optical and perspective, and both are prevalent when using wide- angle lenses in particular. optical distortion is an inherent issue with wide- angle lenses, and manifests itself in three forms – barrel, pincushion and wavy distortion. Barrel distortion is the more common kind associated with wide- angles, and occurs when the image appears to fall back at the edges of the frame, and bulge forward in the centre. when it comes to more extreme ultra wide- angle and fish- eye lenses, curvilinear lenses tend to produce very pronounced barrel distortion, with rectilinear lenses less so. Pincushion distortion is more commonly associated with telephoto lenses, and looks the opposite – the image recedes in the centre and appears closer at the edges. wavy distortion is a combination of the two, and is the trickiest kinds of optical distortion to contend with. all three are a result of optical design and are almost unavoidable in lens manufacture, especially with wide- angles. while big, heavy and expensive prime lenses tend to handle optical distortion better than budget zooms, it’s an issue that can be easily corrected in post- processing.
Perspective distortion, on the other hand, isn’t unique to lenses, and is visible with our own eyes. this occurs when objects closer to us, or the lens, appear larger than objects further away – our brains automatically know to translate this information into depth. when photographing close- up objects with a wide- angle lens, the effect is the same, except the increased perspective of the lens exaggerates things. one common example is when you photograph a tall building from up close – the building will appear wider at the bottom than at the top, and the sides will converge towards each other the taller the building climbs away from you. this can also be corrected in processing, to a certain extent providing the effect isn’t too pronounced. there are also specialist wide- angle lenses available known as tilt- shift lenses, which alter the focal plane of the lens in relation to the subject, helping to correct the issue optically rather than digitally.
1 open your image load your raw file into your chosen editing software – we’re using adobe lightroom. most modern lenses and cameras embed data into the file, so the software knows what kit the image was shot with. some software, such as affinity photo, applies distortion correction by default. distortion correction can be applied to Jpegs too, but needs to be done manually.
2 APPLY PROFILE To apply the profile lens corrections, scroll down to the Lens Corrections tab and tick Enable Profile Corrections. The camera and lens profile should be displayed below in the menus, but if it isn’t, you can select it yourself from the lists. Either way, you can then use the Distortion and Vignetting sliders below to control how much correction is applied ( 100 is default).
3 MANUAL CORRECTION If your camera and/ or lens isn’t recognised or supported in the list, then you can still correct distortion manually. Tick the Constrain Crop box and then use the Distortion Amount slider to remove the barrel distortion – you’ll need to judge it by eye. Use the toggle switch on the Lens Corrections tab header bar to switch the effect on and off and see the difference easily.
4 FINAL TOUCHES Finally, use the Defringe and Vignette controls to fix any fringing and darkening of corners. The Defringe Color Selector is similar to the White Balance eyedropper – simply select the tool, zoom right in, and click on an area of colour fringing that you wish to remove. Easy as that. The Vignette controls can be used to remove darkened edges, or add a vignette for creative effect.
Corrected removing distortion here, we've corrected barrel distortion, colour fringing and vignetting in just a few steps.
original Above & right: notice how the trees seem to bow slightly above? That's a tell- tale sign of wide- angle lens distortion.