Straighten Leaning Buildings
with Photoshop Elements

Do you wish you could straighten leaning buildings in your photos of cities? It's frustrating when you're traveling and you want to capture some of the local architecture. You take the shot and maybe don't even realize it until you look at it later that the buildings appear to be leaning.

There's various reasons why this happens. Sometimes you need to tilt your camera back to get the top of the structure in your picture. That tilt can be enough to distort your photo. Other times it happens if your using a wide-angle lens. Either way there's not a lot the photographer can do to prevent it.

But once again, since you were smart enough to buy Photoshop Elements you can make it look better. Just follow the easy steps in the tutorial below.



STEP 1
Open the photo with the distorted buildings. My example is of the Sears Tower that we took on a trip to Chicago. The Sears Tower itself looks pretty straight, but the buildings on the sides of the picture appear to be tilting in.
Correct Camera Distortion in Photoshop Elements

STEP 2

Go under the Filter menu and choose Correct Camera Distortion…

A dialog box will open that shows your image with a grid superimposed over it. There's also some slide adjustments and a couple check boxes. Don't be intimidated, I'll break it down to just the parts you need to focus on to straighten leaning buildings.

Notice the three areas I have circled in the image below. Look in the upper left corner of the dialog box. I want you to know you have a Zoom tool at your disposal so you can zoom in or out (to zoom out hold the Alt key [Mac: Option key]). You also have a Move tool so you can line up the edge of your buildings to a grid line to check straightness. The other 2 circles show boxes you should have checked. They are the Preview and Show Grid boxes.




STEP 3

The only adjustments we're going to look at is the Vertical Perspective and the Scale sliders located on the right side of the dialog box.


You can see how much the buildings on either side of the image are leaning in relationship to the vertical lines of the grid. Start moving the Vertical Perspective slider to the left and you will see the image become more parallel to the vertical grid lines.

It's usually impossible to get every building perfectly straight, but you can straighten leaning buildings significantly. Once I get past -25 on the slider the buildings furthest out from the center are a lot straighter. If I go further I begin to sacrifice the straightness of the buildings in the center so I'll back off to -25 and call it good.




STEP 4

Notice the empty space at the bottom of your photo in the preview window represented by the checkerboard pattern. That part of the image was lost as a result of our correction. You can use the Scale slider in the Dialog box to fill in that empty area, but it will crop your image and interpolate the pixels to keep the pixel dimension the same as you had originally. The scale method works ok if you don't have to scale too much. If you scale up too far your photo will degrade.

A better option might be to just press the OK button to apply your adjustment. Now select the Crop tool from the Toolbox and manually crop your image. I chose the second option mostly because I didn't care about the parts I had to crop out. It also allowed me to keep the top of my photo, whereas the Scale option would have cropped all four sides of my image.



Here's the side-by-side before-and-after.
Not perfect, but much better.



That wraps up this Photoshop Elements tutorial on how to straighten leaning buildings. See more Photoshop Elements tutorials by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.

If you have comments, questions or requests please don't hesitate to use the Contact form to let me know.

Until next time,
Rick


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