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Old Dec 11, 2009, 8:28 AM   #1
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Default That building is falling over backwards!

I learned photography using a view camera. My instructors insisted that architectural subjects be shot so that the vertical lines in the subject were indeed vertical and parallel, eliminating vertical convergence. In those days the Linhof company, maker of the Technika, the best view camera, put out a magazine called Applied Photography, featuring amazing photography, all done with their cameras, of course. Each issue had a page called the "hall of shame", which usually included photos of buildings which appeared to be falling over backward, because of converging vertical lines. Making such corrections was easy with a view camera, but when the profession evolved to medium, and then small format cameras, it became a problem. Seems that eventually many photographers simply accepted distorted architectural photos as "normal".

Vertical convergence could be minimized (and still can), by shooting from further back with a longer lens, or from a higher vantage point, but it could only be eliminated by using special shift lenses, or by a difficult procedure in the darkroom. Enter the digital age and Photoshop. There is no need to leave converging vertical lines in buildings uncorrected.

A tip: While shooting your photo, step back a bit, because the correction will involve cropping.

If you have a recent version of Photoshop or PSE, vertical convergence is easily fixed. In the Filter menu, near the top, pick Correct Camera Distortion. Your photo appears behind a tile-like grid of guidelines. On the centre right of the screen, select Perspective Control. Slide the Vertical Perspective Control to the left until the vertical lines are parallel to one another. Then at the bottom of the window, move the Edge Extension slider to the right until the blank areas on the bottom of the photo are cropped out. Then hit OK.

In older PS versions, without the Distortion filter, the problem can still be fixed Edit > Transform > Perspective. In Elements, it's Image > etc. Increase the canvas size about 25%, and select the image area with the Rectangular Marquee before using the perspective tool. Pull in a couple of guidelines from the side ruler for a visual reference, then pull the top outward until the convergence is gone. Then crop off the "wedges" and left-over canvas area.

If you do a lot of correction, the building may look stubby, although that can be fixed, too Edit > Transform > Distort.

Not all vertical convergence should be repaired. If you're trying to emphasize the height of a building, tower, etc., then converging verticals will do it. However, I've seen many examples of this problem, including on this forum, and I'm tempted to paraphrase my old instructors "Congratulations on catching a photo of this building at the very moment it fell over. Please reshoot, so that it looks like it might possibly have been done by a professional."
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Last edited by neilcrichton; Dec 11, 2009 at 10:35 AM.
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Old Dec 11, 2009, 10:16 AM   #2
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I'm puzzled at how the "corrected" image is so out of focus. This shouldn't happen...at least I haven't experienced it to such an extreme.
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Old Dec 11, 2009, 10:18 AM   #3
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It wasn't before I uploaded it. Looks okay on my screen. However I have edited my post and tried again.

Last edited by neilcrichton; Dec 11, 2009 at 10:37 AM.
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Old Dec 15, 2009, 3:12 PM   #4
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Neil,

Yes, distorsion is no good for architecture. I've read your text with interest and will do so again

Never took any courses but found a way, I hope. Yes, verticals are essential. I try to find a vertical in the middle and make that vertical parallell to the sides of the image. That's a minimum

Then Photoshop; two ways

Lens correction / distorsion / to correct bent lines and tilt to get a good perspective

Select / all / transform / skew if I don't want to loose too much of the image

What do you say?

Torgny
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Old Dec 15, 2009, 8:09 PM   #5
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Very nice job...beats getting a PC lens!
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Old Dec 16, 2009, 12:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Torgny View Post
Neil,

Yes, distorsion is no good for architecture. I've read your text with interest and will do so again

Never took any courses but found a way, I hope. Yes, verticals are essential. I try to find a vertical in the middle and make that vertical parallell to the sides of the image. That's a minimum

Then Photoshop; two ways

Lens correction / distorsion / to correct bent lines and tilt to get a good perspective

Select / all / transform / skew if I don't want to loose too much of the image

What do you say?

Torgny
I'll try it and get back to you, Torgny.
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