For those of my readers who are getting into architectural photography, here’s a great video from AdobeCommunityHelp that demonstrates how to correct wide angle distortion in Photoshop.
If you’re unable to see the embeded video, click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFsAxkcjFEM
Let me start off by saying, that I’m actually a big fan of ultra wide angle lenses when shooting landscape and cityscape photography (I personally use a Sigma 10-20mm). Not only are you able to fit much more info into the image, but creatively, I find that playing around with the distortion that occurs on the wider end (10-15mm) can actually add an interesting element, as well as some new-life to famous locales that have already been shot a million times by others.
Though this added creative element can be useful when shooting for your own portfolio, I knew that the distortion would have to be corrected on photos that I recently shot for a friend who wants to build up his architectural business portfolio. The photos required correction as these images were going to be used for both his portfolio and on real estate listing sites. Below, you’ll find a sample of how much of a difference distortion correction can have on an image.
At first glance, you may not notice as much distortion if you’re only focusing on the center of the image, but it quickly becomes increasingly prominent as you move further towards the edges. If you look at my shot below (RAW file with no corrections that was directly exported as jpeg), you’ll notice that there is a severe angling that draws all vertical lines towards the top-right edge of the image. If you focus on the vertical lines (the window, picture frame and bookshelf) while looking at the right edge of the photo, the distorted lines become so prominent that you feel like you’re looking at a set piece in a Tim Burton movie.
While this may not bother you as much at a quick glance, there is something that seems “off” the longer you look at the image, and that is definitely not a feeling that I wanted prospective buyers or renters to be feeling when going over the image. Using the techniques shown in the above video, I was able to get the following result.
Though you do lose a bit of the overall width of the image (you can see that the bottom-right corner of the sofa is no longer visible), I think the benefit of having straight lines and a more professional looking image is well worth it. I highly recommend that anyone that is getting into architectural photography practice the techniques in the videos, and make them a mandatory part of your editing workflow (especially if you’re going to be working with clients who are using your photos for their listings).