Get It Straight – It’s easy

Have you noticed that buildings seem to be leaning backward in your photos? This is usually the result of the camera angle in relation to the building. In the past, there were special camera lens as well as darkroom techniques to correct this. Now, in the digital age, fixing this is quite easy with the current photo editing software. In this article, I will explain the steps which can help you create more pleasing and natural looking architectural photos whether inside or outside.

The following examples were done using Photoshop Elements 8, but similar functionality should be available with most photo editing software.  To really see what the issue is, please notice how the building seems to be leaning backward in the following photo:

To correct this, I will be using the transform tool of the software as shown here:

Notice that the transform tool is an option from the “Image” menu. Also, notice that there are several choices. The “Perspective” choice is useful if the image is symmetrical. This photo is also a little lopsided. So, I chose the “Distort” option. This puts a thin line around the image with little circles at the corners. To start fixing the image, use the mouse to click and hold on one of the corners. Then, drag it in a manner to correct part of the image. In the following example, I  chose to work on the left corner first:

Next, I did the right corner, but I also dragged the corner down a little to fix the asymmetrical leaning as shown here:

The little box in the lower right with the check mark allows you to make the changes to the actual image.  Now, while the image looks better, it has some blank space. Thus, I use the cropping tool to mark  off the blank space as shown here:

Before committing the crop, please notice that some of the building will be lost. At this point, it’s up to you to decide what you want in the photo as well as what you want from the photo. To me, a little loss is fine if I can have a more natural looking photo as shown here:

Please compare this to the original photo. While it may not be perfect, it is much more pleasing to my mind. Also, in using the tool, adjusting one side also affects the other side somewhat. So, you have to play with it a little to get what you want. Of course, as with all tools, the more you practice with a tool, the better you become in using it.

As stated above, you can also fix inside photos which have been distorted usually because of shooting with a wide angle lens. Here’s an inside example of a somewhat distorted photo:

Here’s the repaired photo where I made the walls look more parallel:

Now that you know about this tool, please try it out. I think you will find it easy to use and you will certainly like the results.


  1. rsheedy says

    This is a great tutorial. These are the kinds of details I tend to notice but ignore when editing my photos, because it seemed like a lot of work to fix these. After reading your article, I’m gonna have to give this a go!

  2. Earl J says

    Great information, Henry, with good detail. I use Paint Shop Pro and as you suggest, it has similar capabilities.

  3. conniee4 says

    Thanks so much! I always mess this up. I will know where to find instructions in the future! Thanks again and great article!

  4. Joey says

    As usual Henry, your explainations are brilliant and oh so helpful! It was nice seeing your screenshots of pjhotoshop and to see how it works as it isn’t cooperative for me!!
    Great article and just that little adjustment does make a difference.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us

  5. says

    Ohhhhh! Earl, thank you so much for this fix it tip. I would love is see more of these fix it tips using PSE 8. Your explanation is clear matched with the visual example was terrific. Thanks again.

  6. says

    I think straighting photos really is a great idea and as your tutorial shows, a simple one! I’d love to see more quick fix tips like this from you, Henry.
    Thank you!

  7. scrapsage says

    Wonderful tutorial, Henry. I had actually used this technique some years ago, but as is so often the case, when you don’t use it regularly, you forget. I had forgotten how well it worked. Thanks for the reminder that I need to dip into my tool box more often. This was a very clear explanation and I’m sure it will help a lot of users perfect their photos.

  8. says

    Henry this is something that I get so irritated at myself about, I take pictures like I’m leaning on one leg or something. Now that I’m aware that I do it I think twice when taking my pictures but I love having the editing tools to correct it if I need too. Thanks for the great article!!

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