Quick Tip – How To Straighten Your Crooked Photos

Have you ever noticed a slight sideways lean to your images? Or perhaps that they are not perfectly aligned with the horizon or a vertical line in the frame?

Well, don't feel bad, that is a very common flaw in photography, and there are several ways of correcting it.

Getting It Right First Time

The best option is to get your photo straight inside the camera instead of adjusting it in post-production.

The number 1 reason why is because once you start tweaking the angle with the cropping tool, you lose some of the edges of the frame, and sometimes those edges are important for your overall composition.

The easiest way to achieve straight lines is with the aid of a tripod, or a bubble level (or both), the more the merrier.

What To Do When You Don't Get It Right The First Time

In my case, I have a big problem because my genre is street photography, and everything happens so fast that I regularly fail to achieve straight verticals or horizontal lines.

If this happens to you regularly, don't worry, there are a quick couple of post-production tools in Lightroom (and, of course, other RAW developing software as well) that will straighten out the lines in our compositions.

Putting Myself Out There… Here Is My Example

Original shot – Image by Federico Alegría

As you can see, the lines in my image above aren't straight. It removes impact from my image and it just feels wonky. Time to fix it…

Final developed image with high levels of angle and perspective correction – Image by Federico Alegría

That's better…the ladder and the horizontal edges of the building are all straight now!

Ok, So Here Are Two Quick Ways To Fix Your Lean

1. Angle Tool

The first tool is the easiest to use and the one with more natural results too. You can use the angle tool with your mouse, by introducing a numeric value or simply by dragging a line in the image.

This tool is part of the Crop tool, and so, it comes with a price. By twisting the image, you'll be cropping slightly as well, and the final frame will be smaller than the original one.

Use the angle tool if losing a small amount of your final image doesn't affect your composition!

2. Distortion Tools

If things get extremely odd in terms of lines and perspective, you can also use the transformation panel within the lens correction tools.

Here, in the Horizontal and Vertical sliders, you'll be able to adjust your image in order remove strange perspective known as the “keystone effect”.

Learning Note: the keystone effect most often happens when you take photos of tall buildings. The building can look as if it's leaning inwards or backward. This is because you have to angle your camera back to fit the entire building in and when that happens, the building and your lens are at different perspectives, and as such, the lines in the image seem to converge. 

Just remember, using this tool will come with massive crops in your images. Jason Row has a great post on using the transform tool in Lightroom CC Classic here

If you feel you need to use this tool, increase and decrease the sliders gradually until you find the sweet spot, otherwise you'll end up with a very strange looking photograph.

We hope this short editing tip was helpful. If there is anything else you'd like a quick tip on, then let us know in the comments below

Lightroom has a lot of great time savers and creative options from batch editing through to brushes and presets which offer a few creative opportunities for your photography.

One of our favourites is presets that allow you to instantly change the look of an image. Now, once you have used the preset you are still free to keep editing the photo as you normally would or leave it and move on. Here is an example of what we mean.

That outcome was achieved with one of the presets from our Pop Pack collection that you can check out here. Either way, presets are a great way to save time and open up those ideas for edits you may not have previously considered.

Grab the Pop Pack Presets Here.


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About the author

Federico Alegria

Federico is a one of our staff writers and has 8 years of experience in making documentary photography, he is currently working in long-term photo essays and you can watch more of his work here. He is also a photography educator at a design-focused University, and is currently pursuing his PhD (and of course, his thesis is around Photography). His work has been featured in museums, newspapers and magazines. He is currently based in El Salvador.

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